As a child I was very active, playing either football or rugby, cycling or digging big holes in the garden. One of my earliest memories is the day I finally learnt to ride a bike. I was riding the bike all three year old’s dream of - a Rayleigh Streetwolf with built in sound box, black with red trim. I was in my back garden and I can remember my Uncle Ian’s dulcet Romford tone, “Ger un, Ger un, I got ya.” We must have completed a hundred laps of the badminton court sized patio garden. Then, as I circled around the washing line in front of me, I could see him, which meant he wasn’t behind me, nor was he holding me up. I was riding on my own! I was so excited I rode straight over the steps falling over the handlebars. I couldn’t believe I had learnt to ride and had my first crash. “Brilliant!”
When I reflected on this memory I wondered why it was my Uncle and not my parents or even my grandparents who I remember helping me to learn to cycle. When I quizzed my Mum about this, she was bemused and laughed out loud, saying, “We spent hours at Bedford park running behind you, don’t you remember?” To be honest I didn’t, but to save her feelings I said “Yeah, I do actually.” As a natural born detective, she could tell I was lying. This awkward situation sparked my imagination and has helped develop my new business idea.
As the Manager of an Olympic standard cycling venue I must have seen thousands of children learn to ride, but it was only as a result of that conversation with my own Mum that I started to take a closer look at the sessions we deliver and how the adults interacted with the children they brought along. One particular session we deliver works like magic. In just 30 minutes children who have been completely in tears, reluctantly pushing their bike with stabilisers, now confidently weave in and out of cones at full speed totally unaided (stabilisers or human).
The question is, how will the children remember the experience?