Pedalling fear

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It’s been interesting to see the debate in the press over the last few days on whether children should be allowed to cycle to school. The catalyst for this, outrage on one side and support on the other, has been the Schonrock family and specifically their 5 and 8 year old ‘being allowed’ to cycle a mile to school in Dulwich. The Telegraph article is here but there are plenty of others, e.g the BBC
What’s very interesting is the school threatening to report the matter to Social Services (I’d be surprised if Social services felt this was worthy of taking further given the very real demands on their resources and time).
As a parent and a Youth Worker I experience a tension sometimes. As a Youth worker I know my children need to grow, learn, risk and gain confidence, something they cannot do by being controlled, ferried and inoculated from embracing life. As a parent though I do get nervous but I do know that’s about my anxiety and shouldn’t be the driver of what my children do and don’t do.
My youngest cycles a busy couple of miles to school or walks (and gets lifts sometimes instead) and has done since he was 9. It’s been a real boost to his confidence and sense of self. It also seems to have reduced his anxiety about facing new challenges.
I’ve heard some sort of story or parable about a particular moth that endures an enormous struggle to emerge from it’s chrysalis. The story also details that an attempt to help it emerge by cutting the edges of the chrysalis will result in the Moth never being able to fly. The battling to emerge from the chrysalis being an essential component in the animating of it’s wings. I also seem to recall it had some relevance to this but I forget why now.
Captains Log Supplemental:
I’m also always interested in the debate often enters the arena of the roads not being safe for cyclists therefore they shouldn’t be on them, rather than, our roads are dangerous; maybe we should re-think the pre-eminence and dominance of motor vehicles.

Low and fast

My son H has inherited a love of cycling from me, either through nature or nuture, but most probably both. He is unable to ride a conventional bike but for the last few years the good folk at KMX have supplied urban assault vehicles for him that are a million miles from some of the truly awful special-needs bikes we have encountered (thankfully there are now also some great ones too).
hase shot alu.jpgH has outgrown his KMX though and we have been searching for an adult bike for him. The one that stood out as THE one was the German Kettwiesel built by Hase, a delta trike that handles and rides brilliantly. The BIG shock though was just how expensive they are and the quote we were given was eye wateringly large. So I started to hunt for a second hand one although they are rarer that hens false teeth. Incredibly though one came up for sale in North East Scotland even having the ‘mountain drive‘ H would need to be able to get up and out of our estate. Despite the fact that the North East of Scotland is a long long long way away, it was too good a chance to miss it and I enquired excitedly ….. but sadly it had just been promised to someone else. I posted my details up on the Forum though and said I was still interested if the deal fell through.
In half term I got an e-mail from a really nice guy in Norfolk who’d bought the trike but decided that it wasn’t right for him, asking if I was still interested. How cool is that? H and I only had to drive 150 miles each way to fetch it rather that the 1100 mile round trip to where it had been previously.
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The bike is the wasps-nipples* and H loves it with a passion. Inevitably (for those who know H) there have been a couple of crashes. My favourite was the one where he lost it at speed flipped himself off and into a fence allowing the bike to both crash into him and ride over him. But we’ve been for some rides as a family and are thoroughly enjoying how much he is enjoying it. Fab. I actually like riding it too BUT H is very clear that I have my own bike! There is a cool trick you can do with a Kettwiesel though if you get more than one, you can convert them to a tandem or even multi-tandem SO watch this space 🙂

* better than the bees knees

Cars must be pushed for the next 200 yds

dismount.jpgPedalling to the gig this afternoon along the cycleways and roads of Berkshire I was reflecting on an oft encountered sign that really winds me up! The offending notice being “Cyclists dismount!”
Forgive me as I descend into a rabid amalgam of Basil Fawlty and Victor Meldrew but really, what is the point of creating a cycle way that you are then asked not to cycle on???
It is blatantly ridiculous, a bit like the footway baring signage indicating that one must crawl rather than walk for the next 100 yards, thus inadvertently (or I guess vertently) insisting that feet must not be used on the footway.
Reflecting (through gritted teeth) today though I have decided to mellow a little in my approach to this. I have now decided I am prepared to accept this absurd requirement, however there is a caveat! I accept it providing that around half a percentage of the road network carries signs insisting that drivers may not drive, but must instead get out and push their cars along the relevant section.
So Minister of Transport, do we have a deal?

Cycling in three dimensions

When the rain stopped last night I went out for a ‘play’ on my bike, just messing around for the fun of it and finding quirky places on our estate and in the woods to ride. Great fun!
A few years ago I worked with a group of teenagers who were all into Freeriding and I loved the way they could loft the bikes over stuff as well as balance the bike on either wheel before springing onto the next obstacle. Sadly I never got the hang of this, but having seen this video on Chris’s site last night I was reminded how far above and beyond play cycling this is. Very very cool!


I’m not fully myself today after an experiment yesterday into how rapid a deceleration the human body can cope with.
Pedaling back across London from a meeting in Westminster yesterday was a joyous experience. The Autumn sun was shining warmly, the leaves on the trees were a feast of colour and the city looked beautiful. Cycling briskly along one of the wide open tourist areas I was taking in this unfolding visual feast and feeling at one with the world. For reasons best understood to city planners there was a short section of iron fencing randomly built into this expanse of sand coloured tarmac. Busy as I was absorbing the vista I made a gentle turn and I failed to notice it and had a considerable shock when the bike instantly stopped. *Ouch!* Thankfully I hit it at an angle rather then head on so I ended up in a crumpled heap next to the bike rather than employing the classic straight ahead superman impression.
Cuts, abrasions, friction burns, road rash, bruising, stiffness, swelling. Nice! But nevertheless laughing at my own stupidity 🙂 The Bike, meanwhile, has taken a beating and lost some minor appendages but still functions!
Feel free to leave sympathy of mirth in the comments 🙂

Back on the road again

For those who know my eldest boy, you’ll be pleased to hear he is fully mobile again and a danger to the road going public!
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The wonderful people at KMX have built him a Kart that’s specific to him, and he is out and about registering only as a blur and a smile as he goes past. He is actually a fantastic KMX pilot and rides with a control that defies his Cerebral Palsy, it’s incredible to watch. It’s also fab to see him treated as an equal up at the Skateboard ramps within the mad melee of boarders, skaters and BMXers.
new kmx2b.jpgWhat’s been really great is that other than riding a recumbent he’d be on a special needs tricycle which are usually heavy, no fun, produce way too much friction, have the aesthetic qualities of a power station and are less cool than white socks and sandals! I’m hoping that we’ll be able to help KMX be better known in the world of special needs cycles.
This new KMX is also big enough for me to ride (just extend the boom) and I had great fun riding it to a meeting in Town the other day, it scares Motorists to see a low and fast projectile on the road …. I was given a lot of space!

Fast Folding Commuter Cycle

For the most part I avoid writing about Cycling BUT every now and again it just kinda happens. Regular reader(s) of Youthblog know that I ride a fast skinny road bike, a hardtailed Mountainbike and my folding bicycle (although not all Bromptonred.jpg at the same time you understand). My folder is a British built (yay) bike called a Brompton. This piece of kit goes nearly everywhere with me and is SO useful, folding as it does into a small package in under 20 seconds (and unfolding as fast) and riding in a zippy, fun and efficient manner. The folding market is seeing massive growth at the moment as these bikes are harder to steal (if you keep them with you, which you can), join transport options together (you can take them on buses and trains without hassle, or indeed being thrown off) and they are dead easy to store. Brompton have been producing their bikes as fast as they can while companies like Dahon have innovated and produced a wide range of folders. The holy grail though has been to make a bike that rides well, folds down to a small package AND folds quicker more efficiently than the Brompton. I think Bike Friday may have done it, check this out ………..

The instruction video is here. I’ve not ridden one yet so can’t comment BUT it’s genius is it not?