Freewheeling through town - or not

>> Saturday, 14 June 2008

We've been cycling through our part of London today. This is always a bit of an adrenaline rush for me; not when I'm cycling on my own as even I am capable of managing that, but if I have one of the boys riding pillion behind me it becomes, well, rather more exciting.

Normally it would be Boy #2 - crucially, around 3 kilos lighter of the two - who would be strapped in, helmeted up, and looking somewhat nervous. For the moment, however, it is Boy #1 who has drawn the short straw and is riding pillion with me, due to the fact that whilst we were on holiday some kind soul decided to help themself to the baby seat on the back of Husband's bike. As a result, we have been forced into role reversal, and Boy #2 rides with Husband on the type of babyseat you only ever see in Holland. It sits in front of the saddle, hanging off the handlebars in a most disconcerting manner, and I want nothing to do with it on my bike - see this post here to find out why.

Consequently, it's been Boy #1 who accompanied me today on my white knuckle ride to Holland Park Avenue via the Peter Pan playground in Kensington Gardens and home again. I like to think that I use twice as many calories as normal when either of the Boys are on the bike with me, mainly due to the fear factor (and perhaps a little bit due to the extra 20 kilos or so that I'm pedalling around). It's not true, of course, but I need some kind of incentive to ditch the car...

To give you a flavour of our journey, by the time we reached the park - only to find out that handily the Pirate Ship was closed for maintenance - the following comments had been uttered by one or other of myself and Boy #1. I will let you work out who said what...

"Faster faster faster! Speed, I am Speed. Hurray, Mama! He's getting away!"

"It's not a race, Boy #1. (under breath) Shoot, the lights are changing. Fasterfasterfaster!"

Pause whilst I peg it over a busy junction, thinking that it probably wasn't the smartest move to let Husband go in front. Like I had a choice.
Suddenly I notice some movement behind me in my field of peripheral vision...

"What's that? Put your hand down Boy #1! What are you doing?"

"Signalling, Mama."

"Please don't, it's dangerous."

"Dangerous to signal?"

"Well, it is for you. Until you're on your own bike."

"When I'm a hundred?"

"Probably. If I have anything to do with it."

Further pause whilst I pant embarrassingly up the hill in Kensington Gardens and then, even more embarrassingly, have to get off and push the bike for the last few feet. Boy #1 wisely holds his own council until we reach the playground. Then;

"It's hard work, cycling. I'm ex-haaaaauuuuusted, Mama."


Nora 15 June 2008 at 08:36  

Ha, ha, kids are so funny, he probably put a lot of mental effort into making sure you did it right, watching you like a hawk while you maneuvered through the dangerous traffic. Poor critter was at your complete mercy, wasn't he?

Potty Mummy 15 June 2008 at 11:26  

You said it Nora! To be honest, I would be exhausted if I was riding behind me on a bike too...

Samurai Beetle 15 June 2008 at 16:53  

Well the added weight may not burn double the calories but it certainly burns more then riding solo! I used to have a bike instead of a car and hubs & I would haul groceries and water home on the bikes. Sounds like kids are significantly more amusing.

aims 15 June 2008 at 19:33  

My question is why? Why do you torture yourself like this on a daily basis?

My answer to my own question - it all comes out as lots of fun and embarrassment for PM - so keep it up!

What a bummer tho that the pirate ship was closed. Grrrrr and Yar!

Grit 15 June 2008 at 21:17  

i am so impressed that you cycle in london at all! the very thought terrifies me!

Pig in the Kitchen 15 June 2008 at 23:23  

you see what i hate about the cycling is the sweaty nether regions. You can turn up looking like yummy Mum crossed with Chris - gold medal something - can't remember his name, but sit down on a plastic chair and it all goes tits up.

You are not longer fit yummy mum looking like Victoria Pendleton (google it), you are 'woman with a sweaty arse'. Not a good look.

But well done you for trying! ;-)

Tracey 16 June 2008 at 01:26  

Our youngest used to occasionally freak at riding in the bike child seat, and would urge us to go slower! I'll never forget the time I turned up on the bike to pick her up from preschool. She never liked surprises, so she screamed half the way home, particularly down the hill from the preschool! Guess we didn't do it enough, so (as you can imagine, as you know how much we ride now) I am thinking 'go PM!!' I am very VERY impressed that you are riding around London on bikes with your kids!

Next step a tag-a-long/trail-a-bike for Boy #1??!! At some point they get much too heavy for the seat! (If you do consider it, I can give you some tips - we upgraded ours, from a standard one to a geared one!)

(Your story also reminds me of a woman who did one of the 'Big Rides' (multi-day bike expedition) we went on, with her 2 year old in one of those seats. One time the little darling kicked her mum in the rear end whilst urging her to go faster up a hill! (She caught her in a very painful spot, so the mum was in tears and close to saying and doing things she knew she'd regret!!)

Potty Mummy 16 June 2008 at 14:14  

SB, no doubt they are, but I imagine that once you put a bag of shopping in place, it stays put, rather than twisting and turning every time it sees a police car, motorbike, or large dog...

Aarrr, Aims, a bummerrrr, fer sure, garn. As for why I do it - probably if I weren't married to a Dutchman it would never cross my mind, but as you may or may not know, they were born on bicycles.

Grit, unless you go on the main roads it's not as scary as you think, really.

Lovely imagery Pig, thankyou for that. I will make sure to tie a jumper round my waste when i get off the bike from now on...(not that I suffer from the complaint you mentioned, of course).

Hi Tracey, I have thought about the tag-alongs, but am still mulling that one over. I think it would probably have to have a plethora of very tall flags attached to make sure the doltish 4x4 drives couldn't miss it - but am not sure that they would take enough notice even then. But thanks for letting me know I can come to you for advice if we decide to go for it!

Expatmum 16 June 2008 at 18:55  

We used to have a great seat (from Canada) that sat in front rather than behind, and our little one loved it. He is now 5 and far too heavy for even my husband. Besides, I am terrified to cycle with these crazy Americans on the roads!

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong 16 June 2008 at 21:23  

Hi PM, have been catching up with all your news - and your trip to OZ. As for the cycling in Town, I remember doing that very route twenty-odd years ago, before the advent of Son or Daughter. When we were in Cambridge, Daughter used to ride on a cushion on the back of my bike, holding on round my waist!! Dangerous or what?
M ;-)

Frog in the Field 17 June 2008 at 06:26  

Crikey you're seriously super dooper lovely bike has pride of place in the barn, and staying there!
very funny, glad you're home.

Frog in the Field 17 June 2008 at 06:28  

ps. Have you thought of banning Pig? I'm sure she's on her third and final warning....

Potty Mummy 17 June 2008 at 12:51  

Thankyou Pig.

EPM - I thought all those crazy Americans on the roads had moved to South Kensington? Don't tell me there are more?

Hi M, I think the roads were a little quieter 20 years ago - which is something I pointed out to Husband when he said that he had always rode on the back of his mother's bike and it never did him any harm. I countered by reminding him that the traffic in South Ken now and in a little village in South Holland 35 years ago were rather different animals...

Hi Frog, thanks, and I can recommend cycling - but only on the flat and only in good weather. In other words, unless it's easy I'm not interested. And I can't ban Pig - or who would do the cooking at our virtual dinner parties? (Now there's an idea for a post if anyone wants it...)

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