Ed­i­tor’s Let­ter

Fos­ter­ing a love of cy­cling, like rid­ing it­self, re­quires bal­ance

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - Matthew Pioro Ed­i­tor

Dur­ing a fan­tas­tic pe­riod this past spring, my four-year-old daugh­ter asked to go to Joyride 150, an in­door bike park. There was no prompt­ing from me, which is of­ten the case. Then we had a fun day at a lo­cal out­door bike park. She was also rid­ing her bal­ance bike al­most ev­ery day to day­care. Oh man, was I ever pleased. Pre­vi­ously, she had been am­biva­lent about her bike, but she was re­ally en­joy­ing rid­ing. And then, she stopped. “You want to ride your bike to day­care to­day?” “No.” “Huh. OK,” I would say. I found it per­plex­ing, maybe even a bit ag­o­niz­ing, but I kept my cool. She would in­stead stand on the pedal of my com­muter bike as we’d talk dur­ing the walk to day­care, which I thor­oughly en­joyed, but…

Years ago, bmx coach Bren­dan Arnold ad­vised me not to push cy­cling too hard on my kid. It was some­thing I knew in­tu­itively, but it of­ten helps to hear such things re­in­forced by an ex­pert. Arnold – who gets many kids rid­ing at Stouf­fville bmx, about 30 km north of Toronto – ap­pears in Molly Hur­ford’s stel­lar fea­ture, ‘ In­spir­ing Girls to Ride,’ (p.50). It’s a story I read with keen, keen in­ter­est.

Hur­ford was def­i­nitely the right writer for a story about en­cour­ag­ing girls to take to two wheels. I’m a fan of her novel for young read­ers, en­ti­tled Shred Girls. An ad­vance copy sits on my shelf as I wait for my daugh­ter to hit the right age for the story. Also, Hur­ford has been fea­tur­ing real-life shred girls on her web­site of the same name for al­most two years. The site is just one of the many projects she has that can pique a girl’s in­ter­est in cy­cling. As Hur­ford writes in these pages, ex­am­ples of women rid­ing bikes can help girls to em­brace the ac­tiv­ity. When I watch World Cup cy­clocross races at home, my daugh­ter will ask the gen­der of the rid­ers on the tele­vi­sion. She’s al­ways a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed if it’s the men’s race. But if it’s the women’s, she’ll ask, “Is that one So­phie?” or “Is that Sanne?” won­der­ing if de Boer or Cant is in the race.

At the risk of giv­ing too much away, I’ll tell you about one point that Hur­ford makes in her story that re­ally gave me an “ah-ha” mo­ment. A love of cy­cling doesn’t just come from par­ent/daugh­ter time. It also comes from rid­ing with friends. I’ve been so keen to ride with my girl that I didn’t re­ally con­sider this part of cy­cling. I do have some fond mem­o­ries of rid­ing with my par­ents and sis­ter back when I was a kid. But, I prob­a­bly spent more time on a bike rid­ing with the other kids on our dead-end street. As a teenager, I still got around a lot by bike with my friends, even with fresh driver’s li­cences in our pock­ets.

I re­mem­ber one ride date my daugh­ter had with a friend at the lo­cal bike park. They rode the pump track a bit. Then, they put their bikes down and col­lected pine cones. And ar­ranged pine cones. I think they might have even made stick houses for the pine cones. I now con­sider this off-bike ac­tiv­ity as a four-year-old’s ver­sion of a long mid-ride espresso break.

As I write this, my daugh­ter has re­cently started in­sist­ing on rid­ing her pedal bike in­stead of the bal­ance bike. If I help her get up to speed, she can pedal, and you can imag­ine how happy that makes me. But get­ting the bike go­ing is still a chal­lenge. She gets frus­trated, gets off the bike and re­fuses to get back on. (Geez, I won­der where she gets this stub­born­ness from?) I want to say to her, for the hun­dredth time, that she just needs to push down on a pedal and push off from the ground. But I keep my cool. I know she’ll come back to the bike, when she’s ready.

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