Thanks to par­ent­hood, my car now dou­bles

Manchester Evening News - - FAMILY MATTERS -

THERE can’t be many peo­ple who know more about rid­ing bikes than 11-time world cham­pion and six-time Olympic gold medal-win­ning cy­clist Sir Chris Hoy.

The 43-year-old is pass­ing some of his in­valu­able knowl­edge on to his own kids. Five-year-old son Cal­lum re­cently learned to ride a bike, and daugh­ter Chloe, aged two, is just start­ing to learn – at a much younger age than her dad did.

“I was six when I learned to ride a bike, which was rel­a­tively late com­pared to most of my friends,” he says. “It wasn’t un­til I watched the film E.T. and saw a BMX bike for the first time that I knew I wanted to give it a go...once I started rid­ing I was hooked!

“I was so ex­cited when we got Cal­lum his first bal­ance bike, but he didn’t im­me­di­ately share that ex­cite­ment. Ini­tially he took no in­ter­est in it so, fight­ing ev­ery urge I had, we left it in the cor­ner of the room. Before long, he had a go and it wasn’t long before I was strug­gling to keep up with him.”

He says chil­dren will learn in their own time. “The im­por­tant thing to re­mem­ber is it needs to be fun, they need to feel safe and com­fort­able and al­low their con­fi­dence to grow,” he adds.

“There’s no stop­ping Cal­lum now – he got his first pedal bike at four, and has been fly­ing ever since! It’s great fun be­ing able to ride with him and see how much plea­sure he gets from the free­dom it brings.

“Chloe has started on her bal­ance bike, and she loved it straight away – I think watch­ing Cal­lum on his bike whet­ted her ap­petite.

“Hope­fully it won’t be long before we can all go out to­gether as a fam­ily – that will be a spe­cial mo­ment. I love see­ing how much plea­sure it brings them scoot­ing around on two wheels.”

In fact, Sir Chris loved the plea­sure bikes can bring so much that he cre­ated his own range, called HOY Bikes (evan­scy­ hoy-kids-bikes).

“I al­ways felt there were so few de­cent bikes for chil­dren, most were way too heavy with poorly thoughtout ge­om­e­try and equipped with brakes and gears that were al­most im­pos­si­ble for lit­tle hands to op­er­ate,” he says.

“We put a lot of work into the HOY kids’ bikes range, and it makes me so happy to see other kids out hav­ing fun on bikes that I helped de­sign and cre­ate.”

Here, Sir Chris gives tips on how to help chil­dren learn to ride a bike.

THE problem with sta­bilis­ers is as soon as you take them off the child has to re-learn how to bal­ance and their con­fi­dence can take a hit.

With­out doubt the best op­tion is a bal­ance bike, it al­lows your lit­tle one to have com­plete con­trol with their feet act­ing as the sta­bilis­ers.

They start by sim­ply walk­ing, then strid­ing, then even­tu­ally scoot­ing.

It’s a nat­u­ral process, and they do it at their own pace. It’s im­por­tant to keep it fun and let them lead you.

You can al­ways cre­ate a bal­ance bike with a reg­u­lar pedal bike by sim­ply tak­ing off the ped­als and low­er­ing the sad­dle to a height that the child’s feet can reach the ground from. Once they’ve mas­tered scoot­ing around, just pop the ped­als back on and they’re off!

FIT is al­ways the most im­por­tant as­pect when it comes to any bike.

THE lack of space, time and money are the ob­vi­ous changes in life, when you’ve got young chil­dren. Although there have been other sur­pris­ing trends to emerge over the last two years.

One is the trans­for­ma­tion of my car into a mul­ti­func­tional space. It may be just a 2007 Volk­swa­gen Golf, but it serves as so much more than I’d imag­ined.

For ex­am­ple, it was Sun­day and I wanted some crois­sants, as a treat for us all, so I drove to the pâtissier/bread shop. I parked out­side, took a glance

in the in­te­rior mir­ror and de­cided I looked un­kempt, so I got the elec­tric shaver out of the glove­box.

Freshly shorn, I walked con­fi­dently into the shop for my bounty. There was an un­easy si­lence, then an as­sis­tant asked me if I was shav­ing in my car.

‘Yes’, I replied, pos­si­bly not ac­knowl­edg­ing the fact I wasn’t look­ing my best and the sneak­ing sus­pi­cion she thought I was home­less.

Although, if I was liv­ing in my

With kids’ bikes, fit is even more cru­cial be­cause if a child’s bike doesn’t fit well, the ex­pe­ri­ence could po­ten­tially put them off cy­cling.

Light­weight bikes with child-friendly com­po­nents will make learn­ing an eas­ier process for chil­dren.

Set the sad­dle at a height where they can rest the balls of their feet on the ground.

Mak­ing the tran­si­tion from hav­ing their feet flat on the ground to the balls of their feet may feel daunt­ing to them to be­gin with but will pro­vide an op­ti­mum po­si­tion for them once they be­gin ped­alling and steer­ing with more con­fi­dence.

RATHER than hold­ing your child’s sad­dle or han­dle­bars, hold them un­der­neath their armpits so you can gen­tly lean them from one side to the other to show how steer­ing and bal­ance are re­lated.

This will give you more con­trol over any po­ten­tial crashes, while let­ting your child un­der­stand how the bike nat­u­rally moves un­der­neath them.

LET your kids get to grips with where the brakes are and get used to squeez­ing them while you’re guid­ing them. car, I wouldn’t be spend­ing a fiver on some crois­sants and a pain au cho­co­lat. Any­way, I de­cided to ex­plain that I have twin chil­dren, and this was the only mo­ment of soli­tude I’d had to beau­tify my­self. Ex­pla­na­tion de­liv­ered, I climbed back into my mo­bile beauty sa­lon, equipped with my ridicu­lously priced crois­sants and drove off with my

Would a home­less man waste money on fancy pas­tries?

Sir Chris Hoy with his gold for the Men’s Keirin at London 2012

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