There comes a time in every man's life when he has to learn to ride a bike. That time is rapidly approaching for my 7-year-old. He's cool, he loves his fashion and he rides a scooter to school. Not one of those snazzy Razor ones, but a safe, wide one with big front wheels. He's fine with that and so are we as parents. We still never let him out of our sight and he never really wants to be out of our sight.
My wife, however, was the first to state that he needed to learn to ride a bicycle.
"Why?" I asked naively.
"Because otherwise he'll become one of those weird adults that can't ride a bike!"
"Really? They exist?"
Apparently they do. My wife Rosie then gave me some examples of people she knew in the UK who despite being in their 30s lacked the skills to pedal and balance simultaneously. I was amazed but indeed it's true. Maybe you know someone over the age of 10 who can't ride a bike? Is it common? I guess I've never really thought about it.
My wife has though. She says: "If by the time you're 21 you can't ride a bike, swim or drive a car then you've officially failed as an adult."
That's pretty harsh, eh? But that's her. I married a harsh one. Harsh but fair like any good Kiwi lass. I was actually thinking that it would be fine if Finn (my boy) never rode a bike.
He doesn't look the type that would ride a bike. Deep down I guess I'm also afraid he'll get knocked off. I'm a protective parent and I'm also secretly scared of the fact that he's growing up.
Last week I was on a location scout (that's a TV activity, not a person) and we drove out to Maraetai Beach. We were about halfway there, driving through the metropolis of Whitford when I suddenly had a flashback of myself cycling the same route.
"Hey Rosie, I've ridden out here on my bike!"
"What do you mean?" she said.
"I just had a total recall moment! I remember riding my bike from Pakuranga to Maraetai when I was a teenager."
"Why ... would you do that?" she asked.
I thought this was an odd question. I mean why wouldn't I do that?
"For the fun of it I guess. The adventure ... the danger ... the independence."
"Did you ride back as well?"
I thought about this for a minute ... "No. Mum picked me up."
But that is what cycling gives you. A sense of freedom and a taste of what the wider world has to offer (Whitford). The next day we took Finn to a cycle shop. He jumped on a bike with training wheels and started pedalling. Rosie and I both looked at each other. "Oh no ... he's way too big for that bike. He looks weird."By Rhys Darby Email Rhys