26 October 2009

Yellow leaves

Yellow leaves cover the roads now: they shine under the October early morning drizzle. Very poetic, except they accumulate on the side of the roads - if there's a cycle path, they completely cover it. Once moist with rain they are as slippery as a laundry floor after an overspill of soapy suds.

As I get to Lower Broughton a kid cycling to school with his mates proves my point the hard way - they are riding on the pavement (just as bad) and trying to climb the kerb slightly off angle ends up with him on the floor. At least he combines lower height and lower mass - sorry, but better him than me: when I fall, it hurts. He, on the other hand, bounces straight back and carries on, to my relief.

So, I ride well away from pavements and leave-covered cycle paths, and keep an eye on my speed downhill, especially if there are traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, traffic etc.

19 October 2009

Learning to ride

You can read it in books, but teaching your child to ride a bike is one of those life's experiences. Each child is different -

my 2nd one learn to ride at nursery, one day I turned up to pick him up and he was pedalling this tiny bike all on his own. My eldest didn't seem interested, but eventually learned the same way I had - you push them by the seat until they gather speed, then at some point let go.

The method involves a few falls, which is why I favour grass surfaces these days (my younger brother back in Peru wasn't so lucky; come to think of it, neither was I - it was pavement for us in them days). So I took No.3 to the park a couple of weeks ago, and gave it a go. Long overdue.

The good news is that she did get to ride on her own. We just run out of time as the weather closed in, and have not had the chance since, so next spring we'll have to try harder, for longer - so that she can reach that tipping point of self-belief that enables us all to carry on when our senses tell us we shouldn't be able to, without anyone else holding on to the back of our seat or rack.

Come to think of it, how handy reaching that tipping point would come in other spheres of life.

01 October 2009

Something I saw last week

Nothing to do with cycling - except that this is the sort of thing that tends to get missed when in a car: somewhere between Cheetham Hill and Heaton Park a bunch of orthodox Jewish kids are going to school. Out of one of their rucksacks something falls - they don't notice it and walk briskly on.

A muslim gentleman picks up the thing - a notebook or pencil case - and follows them. He catches up them at the traffic light and hands the thing over with a kindly expression. The kids look mildly bewildered.

That's it. The whole thing lasts 30", then we all move on, get on with our busy lives.