Cautionary Tales - Cycling with Kids


Obviously, like any pushy parent, I want to instil a love of cycling in my two sons and fulfil my dream of following the Tour de France by bike when they are old enough. And by old enough I mean that perfect time when they are fit and getting fitter but I am still able to physically cycle.

Part of this push meant that I wanted to get a child seat for the bike so they could experience the freedom of cycling and the joy of speed without the effort of actually having to pedal.

Every kid remembers those days sitting behind their dad as he perspired through the park. Actually that reminds me of a couple of great stories if you will allow me a tangent…

The story of how my dad got his bike

My dad was looking for a utilitarian bike so that he could put the child carrier on. As luck would have it my uncle happened to be selling a bike at that exact time. Despite never having cycled much in his life no one thought it curious that my uncle should have a bike in the first place to sell but the deal was done; my dad has his cheap new bike and my uncle had fifty quid in his back pocket.

Years of joyous cycling ensued but this story has a dark twists that goes right to the heart of the Glasgow underworld…

…It was another typically day at the college where my uncle taught joinery to local kids. The one thing that made this day different was the mysterious flying bike. As my uncle looked out the window, no doubt on his seventh cup of tea for the morning, a bike was flying through the air and over the shrubby wall in a secluded corner of the college campus. He instructed the class to continue whilst he investigated.

It was obvious what had happened. Some local youths had decided to half-inch a bike and upon getting chased by the local constabulary they decided to hide the bike and come back for it later. It was great plan but for the fact my uncle happened to be daydreaming at the time and looking out the window.

So my uncle claimed the bike as his own and made the easiest fifty quid had ever made.

He only told my dad this part of the story years later when said bike was gathering dust in our garage and they had had a few pints in them. It was essentially a victimless crime. Except for the person whose bike it was. And for my dad who spent fifty quid on stolen goods.

The story of why my sister doesn’t cycle

After I had graduated from child seat to small bike of my own, it was time for my sister to graduate and take the bike throne.

One balmy summer night we all went to the local park for a cycle. I was speeding down a hill on my small yellow bike when I grabbed a firstful of front brake to slow me down. I did slow down but only after flying over the handlebars and sliding along the tarmac. By all accounts it looked spectacular and some say that I even had the presence of mind to adopt the superman pose as I flew through the air. It was so spectacular that my dad immediately stopped and dismounted.

In his haste to dismount, my dad obviously forgot that my sister was sitting behind him, oblivious to the carnage ahead of her. The first indication that my sister got that something was wrong was a size nine boot in her face as my dad ungracefully swung his leg over the bike as if she was not there.

To rub salt into the (face) wound my dad dumped the bike in a heap so my sister was just lying there prostrate and stuck in the seat.

Although my crash looked epic I was completely unharmed in the way that small children are essentially indestructible. Ironically my sister was much worse off and from that moment I am struggling to remember a time that she has since taken to two wheels.


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