Bicycle Lessons

After a long break, I managed to drag my kids out to the East Coast cycling park to go for a nice long cycle.

This was the first time my daughter was trying her bigger bike so I was naturally more careful with her, staying close and watching out for her.

My son, I thought, being older and more experienced, should have been able to more or less go by himself.

However, as the journey wore on, I became increasingly irritated by what I perceived to be his lack of regard for road safety. He would constantly drift to the centre of the lane, sometimes even cutting into the other side, even when people were coming towards us.

When my daughter kept having to come to a stop to scratch her nose, claiming she couldn’t cycle with one hand, he proceeded to show how he could do it… and proceeded to the drift-across-both-lanes-without-looking and forced traffic on both sides to slow down warily until he regained control.

Furthermore, when it came to the uphill stretches, he would refuse to heed my wise advice to build up speed leading up to it and instead cruise into the slope then struggle going upwards.

I was fuming at him towards the end, but to my credit, I didn’t say anything specific about his riding, except to reiterate general road safety to both my children.

Boy, am I glad I didn’t take it out on him.

The next day, as he was getting wholesome exercise playing outdoors with a neighbour, I took my daughter alone for a quick cycle along a nearby route that runs by a canal.

After setting her up, I got on my bike and stopped.

Why did it feel so small and cramped?

So I got off, quickly adjusted the seat and handlebars and went off again.

Then I stopped again.

Why did it feel so wobbly?

I checked the clips and catches for the folding portions – all in order.

In the end, as my daughter was getting impatient, I just went without stopping anymore.

Nearly died I did.

At the next lamppost, we were navigating past, I oversteered and almost went into it.

At the sharp turn into the canal track, I almost lost control and went into the canal.

Even on the simple straight part, my daughter was cycling almost faster than I could keep up with.

Mistakenly feeling proud that she was coming to her own, I decided to switch the high gear so I could travel at speed.

It was then when I tried to change non-existent gears with a non-existent gear lever that I realised my mistake.

I thought I was riding this…

My 7-speed 20-inch folding bike….

Instead, I was riding this…

His single-speed 16-inch folding bike.

In my haste to get going, I accidentally took my son’s smaller bike instead of my larger one.

Hey, they’re both white. Easy to make a mistake!

In any case, despite my best efforts, I was cycling exactly the same way as my son was the day before.

By the time my daughter and I got back from a far shorter jaunt than the one the three of us went on the day before, I was exhausted, shaken and my nerves were shot, trying to control a bike that was not fit to ride.

If you needed to turn the wheel 30 degrees to the left, it would go anywhere from 27 to 33 degrees. It’s not much as angles go, but any cyclist or driver would know, as far as steering is concerned, “roughly that way” is just not good enough.

I apologized to my son as soon as we got back for the nasty thoughts I was thinking about him the day before but thankfully didn’t articulate.

The next day, we took it to the local bike repair shop and gave it to the owner for parts. As we wheeled it there (it wasn’t safe for either of us to ride it), the stem came loose and some ball bearings slipped out. It was basically falling apart as we took it in.

Talk about no judging until you walked a mile in another’s shoes.

Or cycled on their bike.

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