Lisa, Mother: I have two daughters. One is in middle school; the other is in elementary school. We have some wonderful bike trails in and around our home city of Des Moines. We’ve been venturing on those trails for a few years now. The girls have graduated through the evolution of riding: a Burley trailer to a tag-a-long; training wheels to coaster bikes. Finally, we are now independent operators of our own freedom machines. It’s every gal for herself. Early on, I tried to teach my kids a bit of proper cycling etiquette. (Ways to announce to other riders what you intend to do. Trying to keep crashing to a minimum.) Things like: “On your left! Slowing! Stopping!”
One day, the younger one came up with a new one: “Itching!” She would shout this loudly before back-pedaling to a screeching halt. Every. Twenty. Feet. She always needed to scratch something. Head in her helmet. Nose on her face. Back of her calf. I tried to get her to ride one-handed. Suggested she use her free hand to handle that particular tickle, but she was quick to point out how she wasn’t interested in fancy ‘trick’ riding. She wanted both hands on the handlebars, thank you very much. And if I had any sense at all, I should make sure I got all my itches handled before we got back into the mix of other riders. She never wanted me behind her, nor in front of her--just right there beside her. When she stopped, you better believe I stopped.
Meanwhile, my older daughter would be out of sight after our first emergency itching. She had gears, a water bottle cage and an open road. “C-ya!” She was off like a shot. I’d get anxious because I couldn’t even see her up the trail. I’d yell out her name a few times hoping she could hear me, even though I KNEW one of the best things about being on a bike is how quickly you can make a getaway. Especially from your mom and little sister.
The funny thing about those early rides with my girls is how perfectly they mirror the tug-of-war of parenting. There’s the labor of pushing your child toward the next big milestone, but desperately wanting them to remain within arm’s reach. You have one bird that’s ready to soar and then there’s the other chick… too scared to even peer over edge of the nest. The only thing I’ve learned is to try and meet them where they are--try not to rush or restrain them in any particular moment. Honestly, I’m pretty sure I get it wrong more times than I get it right. With plenty of miles under my wheels, I know that for every stretch of tailwind, there’s a beast of a hill around the next bend. That goes for riding. And for parenting. And for life.
When we get close to the end of a long ride and both girls are really tired, we quote one of our favorite character’s from Finding Nemo. We give it a bit of a twist. Dory’s “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming,” becomes “Just keep pedaling. Just keep pedaling.”
If my girls only knew it’s the same thing I tell myself when trying to stay on course as their mom.
Just keep pedaling. Just keep pedaling.
Reese, Daughter, age 11: I love the time that I get to ride my bike with my mom and my little sister. I enjoy the wind rushing past me as the trees become a blur. I love the sound of the gears changing and the wheels spinning in a steady beat. I was thrilled when my mom started Velorosa® and biking became even more important to our family. I remember when I got my first Velorosa jersey. I was so excited to go riding in it! I enjoy the times that I go riding and exploring the long winding roads and sometimes tackling those impossible hills. I believe that of the best relationships is between a mother and daughter. I love my mom and biking is a great way for us to spend time together. I think biking is a universal bonding activity that brings people together, especially mothers and daughters.