Is it possible for a boy to go to terrified-of-falling-off to peddling a bike in 45 minutes with minimal instruction? Why yes, I was cynical too but I signed Reuben up for a free Cycle Confident course and…we’ll get to the results later.
First though, a tour of Ray Park, which is where our course was being held. It didn’t look like much on Google Maps, but given we were an hour early (Roo was not the only one channelling some anxiety that day) I thought we might as well have an explore. It’s right in the shadow of the M11 but it’s surprisingly big and wild, with a river running along one side. There’s a lot of green space:
But also an outdoor gym, playground, sand pit and cafe. We started on the outdoor gym:
Eva was really getting into practice for her future career as a WAG:
You can see her now on “Footballers’ Wives” can’t you? I persuaded them to stop hogging the grown-ups equipment and go to the actual playground.
Where there was a little complex of tunnels and bridges, known as “Mineshaft”:
The sky was surreally blue that day. I think it might have been the fumes from the M11 or maybe the sun always shines in Redbridge
The hour of playing went quite quickly and soon it was time for the kids and I to cross over to the basketball courts for the cycling lesson. We didn’t bring our own bike, because we came on the bus and some drivers get antsy about taking bikes on buses (see here) but the instructors had some to borrow so it was OK.
They started Roo off on a balance bike, sending him round the court and instructing hime to take his feet off for the ground for a few seconds at a time. He’s not ridden a balance bike before, but got the hang of it and was soon taking his feet off the ground for 20 seconds at a go.
I don’t know what voodoo the instructors performed to get him over his fears but essentially they just told him not to be scared because he could do it. I’ve told him similar in the past, but for some reason he believed them. Soon he was moved on to a bike with pedals:
And jus like that…he was peddling! They showed him how to push off and get started and a few more practice goes later, he was circling the court on his own two wheels. It was amazing progress in a short time, and the instruction was really non-intrusive – they gave him some simple instructions and left him to get on with it and it worked. He could fly!
If you live, study or work in a qualifying borough, you too could get a free course…they run them for adults as well as kids. Take a look here for more info.
After all that hard work, it was time for a refreshing drink in the cafe. Which was home to some toads and a gecko:
And a mosaic, showing life in the park:
And a blue slush machine, which is all Roo was after:
The cafe was really nice – it had a hot food menu, as well as cakes, coffee and slush. It takes card (hooray!), has toilets and plenty of seating, including some comfy sofas. It also has a soft play area, but it’s for children under the age of 4 so sadly both of mine were too big. When did that happen??
So, despite the nerves it was a really lovely afternoon out – a play in the park, a cake and a milestone achieved. I would definitely recommend Cycle Confident and am so proud of Roo for tackling his fears. Next up, the swimming phobia…