Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Twenty-three: Baby and the Bike.

Parenting is so scary.

From the moment of conception, every decision a parent makes, affects that baby. And, there is so much stuff out there to really boost a new-to-pregnancy-and-parenting mum’s paranoia. My midwife did ban me from Google ...

However, this paranoia has not subsided. I am conscious that Willow is dependent upon me and Nick. She might not think about this as she independently runs at full speed towards anything that remotely suggests danger. But she is. No day seems to pass without me wincing at her fragility.

And, this paranoia affects how much I want Willow to enjoy being outdoors. Being with me - on my bike - I worry. 

Riding my bike gives me so much. 

Fitness. Freedom. Thinking time. Racing. 

It gives me a chance to feel alive and enjoy the beauty of what surrounds us. Of course I can’t force a sport upon Willow but I can encourage her to enjoy the outdoor life as much as Nick and I do. But to do this, she has to be part of what we do.

I have run with Willow in the Babyjogger since my pelvic floor had allowed me. Sitting her on my bike, while I ride, has taken a bit longer. Partly because she needed to be older and partly because I was scared.

As soon as her head was big enough for a cycling helmet, 12 months, we began an earnest quest for the best bike seat we could find. We had opted not to use a chariot because we wanted Willow on the bike with us; learning the feel and the sway. I had also decided I wanted her to be mounted in front of me - on a front-mounted carrier. 

I was fortunate to be given a Weeride front-mounted bike seat to try, which I loved. I wanted to be able to see Willow and keep her safe. I wanted her to see what I saw and not my backside! However, this bike seat came with at the cost of my knees. And, I could see that as she grew, I wouldn’t be able to ride. We were offered one called the Yepp Mini to use. Again, bike set up was a problem. There is a definite market out there for a front-mounted bike seat for bikes that are set up to race – or small, like mine!

I had to settle for the rear carrier ...

Nick and I looked into loads: off-road, on-road, suspension, fabric, the lot. However, we were actually so impressed with the Yepp Mini’s quality that we opted for one called the Yepp Maxi, thanks to RM Cycles.

Our first few outings were tentative: I was so worried about Willow being on the bike with me and I am quite a competent bike handler! The weight of her made the bike handle in completely different ways. I had to be so careful because the bike would feel like it wanted to wheelie! 

However, Willow loved it.

When I asked Mat from Weeride about getting a toddler to keep on their riding helmet, he told me to wait until I see the association she makes with it. He was right. Her cycling helmet means a bike ride and she loves this. In fact, as soon as the garage door opens, she is standing at the pedals saying, ‘More, more, more.’

We are now a few months into biking with our baby and her enjoyment has made it all worth its while. She grins and sings as I’m riding, pointing and attempting to say things. And, when we're out with Nick, whoever isn't carrying her, she watches, intently. As though she is checking our cadence or gear selection. But she is never far from beaming. 

Willow is definitely part of our bike-riding life now; our coffee and cake run on a Sunday afternoon. In fact, she is happy, waltzing with her lid! She wears it on her wheeled-cow and whizzes around the living room like a BMX'er. Willow is beginning to love bikes!

That was until I pinched her cheek in the lid's clasp.

And it begins again ...