Learning to climb back on the horse (bike)
This weekend Hubs, L and I were lucky enough to be invited along to the Lee Valley VeloPark for L to do a BMX taster session. The invitation was just for children, but somehow some of the dads wangled their way in (maybe as a Fathers’ Day treat?), and before we knew it Hubs was kitted up with a helmet and gloves too, and was in his element.
It was fairly daunting for L as, although she loves riding her bike, the BMXs were all pretty big, and she was one of the smallest and youngest there.
They started off by learning how to take corners, and I could see that L was nervous. She was wobbly, she didn’t smile much, was really concentrating and I wondered if she’d last the hour.
Every time I looked at her she seemed anxious and wasn’t her usual smiley, bubbly self. She was totally out of her comfort zone.
Once everyone had mastered corners, the coach explained how to go over bumps (keep your pedals level so you don’t have one lower than the other that could hit the ground). I smiled to myself, thinking there’s no way she’ll remember that for the next time she goes on a BMX, certain there was no way she’d be doing that on this first session.
But in no time the groups were split into two: those who went on the massive bumps and jumps of the Olympic Park (including Hubs), and those who went on the more reasonable sized bumps.
When I saw the size of L next to the “hill” she was expected to get over on her big BMX I had a rare moment of Mummy panic. I just couldn’t see L managing it. After a few practice sessions, yes. But not after just 40 minutes of trying out a BMX.
The first ones in her group (the older children) had a go, and I just assumed that L would be watching.
Then before I knew it she was off, cycling down the tarmac, heading towards the first little hill.
And disaster struck. She didn’t get up enough speed, got to almost the top of the hill and didn’t have enough momentum to get over. She came off the bike, slid partway down the slope, with the bike half on her. The coach helped her up and back onto flat ground, and she cycled back towards the others.
I knew she was embarrassed but I wasn’t sure if she was hurt, or if she’d even want to carry on.
As I approached her I could see she was holding back tears. I felt awful. Was this too much for her? I’m always keen for her to try new things out, and to test herself, but had I pushed her too far. I couldn’t ask Hubs what he thought as he was trying out his own BMX hills a way away.
I asked her in French how she was and if she wanted to continue, so she could talk to me without the other children understanding. She replied firmly that she was fine and was going to try it again. I explained to her that she would need to get more speed up to get over the hill, and then I stepped back to watch.
I couldn’t have been prouder, she pedalled down the tarmac, as fast as she could, she managed to get to the top of the hill and over it, with no problem. She stalled at another part, but didn’t come off and completed the whole course (as you can see in the video below). She subsequently did the whole course in one go, without coming off, but I was too busy watching her to film it!
Hubs has done a little video montage of the snippets that I filmed of the two of them here (Hubs is in a white top and L is the little one in a white cardigan), and yes that is L at the end, going over those bumps like a pro 🙂
When she finished L was absolutely buzzing. And I knew that setting her this challenge, that she overcame on her own, was actually a really good thing. She hasn’t been able to stop talking about it since.
(I think Hubs had just as much/more fun than L did, so not a bad Fathers’ Day activity!)
We were kindly invited along to this BMX taster session by Indespension, who specialise in towbars and trailers for combining cars and sports – a must if you’re going to go cycling en famille.
It was a great day out for everyone – Hubs loved returning to his youth on the BMX, L discovered the sheer joy of overcoming your fears and achieving something, I felt so proud watching L and loved seeing Hubs having so much fun. As for C, she had a ball with my cousin, who kindly came over to babysit to make our outing a bit easier. All in all a great Fathers’ Day for Hubs 🙂
Disclosure: We were offered this BMX taster session for Hubs and L free of charge, in exchange for a write-up on the blog. As ever all words and opinions are my own.