Yesterday I picked up my daughter’s new bike from my LBS and I was glad to find that my wife was pleased with the choice. Maria turns 6 on Wednesday and has outgrown her first bike which she still rides about once a month.
I’m proud to say I won her first bike over a game of poker with my mates, I’m a little less proud to say that’s the last time I won (I’m on tilt). Four or five of us play once every couple of month for £10 each per game and we can squeeze in a couple of games over a few beers, cakes and packets of Monster Munch (it’s a hard life eh?). The night I won, our host Andy offered me first refusal on a bike and scooter that has daughter was clearing out of her shed. Claudia is 2 years older than Maria and so the pink 12″ wheeled model resplendent with doll’s bike seat was perfect.
Maria is a control freak, she’s most probably going to be a film director, dictator or teacher when she grows up, so I should have realised that suggesting she put her trust in gravity was going to cause her issues. It took some nudging to get her on the bike but after a few sessions I noted that she would attack hills with a verve and energy that filled me with pride but on the slightest down hill she would be all over the brakes. The brakes weren’t the strongest feature of this particular bike, they do work, but in a rather binary on or off sense.
The new bike has 16″ wheels and front and rear brakes that have some feel to them – she’ll be very happy. The only thing the bike lacks is mudguards as it has a funky BMX style to it. She is a fair weather cyclist anyway and I’m sure some guards can be added over time. White tyres will show up the mud but then might encourage her (or me I suppose) to wash it regularly.
So the inevitable stabaliser question. Yes, it has them. No, there are no immenent plans to remove them. Yes, I know about the trick of removing the pedals first. She will learn in the summer, as will my 4 year old son once he has grown into his 14″ wheeler. If you knew my daughter (and some of you will) you would know you cannot force her to do anything and I certainly don’t want to turn her off cycling. She knows her own mind and once it is set she can do anything (wonder where she gets that from?). I would like her to be braver but maybe with her brother setting an example and a couple of more confident peers around her she will go for it. It might be worth buying or borrowing a balance bike. I have seen one with a rear brake for £40 but the seat looks very low on it and not sure if it might confuse them.
Musically Maria is far more advanced. As I write I am ripping ‘Dark side of the Moon’ to put on her MP3 player. This term she has been studying space and was explaining to me about Saturn 5. This has fired the whole family into a season of spacey stuff; the other morning I work her up to show her Venus through the velux windows of her loft bedroom and we had a bit of an arguement on the planetary status (or otherwise) of Pluto. She was right I was wrong (get used to that feeling father!). I went looking for Air’s Moon Safari which has a retro spacey feel to it as well as the lunar title couldn’t find it so put Pink Floyd’s dark side on instead. As I hoped she connected with the whole album, warbling through the Great Gig in the Sky and trying to dance to Money (despite the 7/4 time signature). We are also looking forward to introducing her to Apollo 13 and the Star Wars trilogy (the first 3 (which are the last 3 if you know what I mean)). We could have played these films to her earlier but sometimes holding back a bit pays dividends, I hope that is the case with 2 wheeled cycling.
I am also re-syncing my son‘s i-pod Nano to remove all the Arctic Monkey’s songs that contain swearwords in them.