I started cycling after the 2012 Olympics and watching Bradley Wiggins ride to victory in the Tour de France. My husband’s initial excitement at me sharing his passion for cycling quickly turned to him trying to reign me in.
And now there’s one more rider in the house to compete with …
… our son, Samuel. Samuel turned 10 at the beginning of February and he felt he was ready to take part in his first sportive.
The Starley short route on beautiful, quiet country roads is a perfect introduction to riding an event either for beginners or confident young riders. 28 miles but with lovely rolling roads. There were no big hills to contend with and plenty of safe spots to stop for re-fuelling from the stash of jelly babies he’s come to associate with riding a bike.
The initial plan was to let him stop every five miles to rest and have something to eat, but he was so excited about taking part in such a big event and seeing so many other riders on the road that he pushed on and only stopped once. It was an incredibly supportive event – every rider that passed issued some words of encouragement and cheered him on. For a while he also rode with a group of Breeze ladies and enjoyed being made a fuss of and adopted him as a token male member of their all female group.
Riding through the finish line and getting an official time was thrilling for him, never mind all the cakes that were waiting at the end. In Samuel’s words ‘The ride was awesome and I definitely want to take part again next year. There was a group of riders who crossed a big road ahead of us and one of the nice Breeze ladies waited to make sure we weren’t left behind. I loved the cake at the end but can you ask them to have some jelly babies next year too?’
Riding with parents on quiet country roads is a brilliant fun, healthy and a great way to build children’s confidence with cycling. It’s not just helping to teach the rules of the road but how to communicate with other riders and road users.
By Emma Woodward