Rid­ing a bike the hard way


Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Mi­randa Mur­phy Mi­randa Mur­phy is a mother of three and a jour­nal­ist at The Aus­tralian. Fol­low her on Twit­ter @mur­phymi­randa

TOP of our parental to-do list th­ese sum­mer hol­i­days has been to teach the kids to ride bikes.

Cor­rec­tion: to teach our old­est and youngest kids to ride bikes – the middle child, who’s six, picked up bike rid­ing af­ter about an hour’s in­struc­tion from a friend last year and has been zoom­ing around taunt­ing her stranded sib­lings.

We’ve left it a bit late with our old­est daugh­ter, who at nine now is both pet­ri­fied of fall­ing off and quar­rel­some with any­one who tries to teach her any­thing.

As we popped her on to her Christ­mas bike, she protested: “I just don’t think I’m ready yet.”

To be fair, bal­ance isn’t her strong point. This is a kid who once broke her el­bow by tripping over air and fall­ing into a gut­ter.

Mean­while, our four-yearold son re­cently de­manded that the train­ing wheels be taken off his bi­cy­cle as they were to­tally not cool.

How­ever, he can’t ride the damn thing with­out them and iron­i­cally fails to see that what’s se­ri­ously not cool is be­ing pushed around the play­ground on your deadly treadly by a huff­ing and puff­ing 41-year-old woman.

One thing we’ve learned from this so-far fu­tile ex­er­cise is that we are cat­a­stroph­i­cally out of shape. It is quite tax­ing to run along, bent dou­ble, hold­ing steady

MUR­PHY’S LORE the back of a bike that is car­ry­ing 20kg of pan­ick­ing child. I bet Cadel Evans’ mum never had to do that.

As an aside, it may be un­fash­ion­able to say but I firmly be­lieve that teach­ing bike rid­ing is a Dad Job, like emp­ty­ing camper­van toi­lets and re­mov­ing spi­ders.

How­ever, de­spite our con­certed dual ef­forts, it’s not go­ing at all well. As we stood in the park last week, next to two dis­carded bikes and be­ing cy­cle-cir­cled by a gloat­ing “look, no hands!” six-year-old, we won­dered why we even both­ered.

We live in a heavy-traf­fic ur­ban area, on a crip­pling hill. The chances of us let­ting our kids go on to the streets on their bikes any time soon are close to zip. So what’s the point?

Yes, yes: it’s a rite of pas­sage; a life skill.

But I fear bike rid­ing is in dan­ger of join­ing one of those hand-wring­ing lists of stuff we did as young kids that seem less pos­si­ble now, like walk­ing to the shops alone or be­ing al­lowed to fall out of trees.

Poor old child­hood – the wheels are fall­ing off.

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