Cycling is pretty much the most virtuous thing you can teach kids to do, I reckon, short of treating leprosy.
It’s environmentally friendly, inexpensive, good exercise, and it’s fun.
So a couple of months back, I made the decision that I’d buy myself a bike, so that Flea and I could go riding together.
My goal was to encourage Flea to ride her bike more regularly, hopefully becoming more confident in the process. And of course, with me by her side, I was able to introduce Flea to riding her bike on the road, and all that comes with it (aside from my heart attacks and regular cries of “STAY LEFT!”)
I have to say, it’s gone pretty well.
It helps that my bike helps me pretend that I’m Miss Marple. All I need is a basket and a casually arranged bunch of flowers. And maybe some knitting.
Anyway, this weekend, we were getting our bikes ready to go for a bike ride, when Flea complained that her bike wouldn’t move.
“Let me have a look,” I scoffed, assuming Flea was just being a bit weedy.
Nope. The rear brake appeared to be locked on, and the bike refused to move.
I turned the bike upside down and using a screwdriver, tried to loosen the brake cable. No dice.
Next, I spent a good 20 minutes hunting down a set of Allen keys so I could try and loosen the brake pad.
I loosened everything that could be loosened, but no effect. I tightened everything back up. Brake still refused to budge.
Flea looked sad.
I suggested she could ride the spare bike in our garden, that used to belong to Flea’s cousin, but apparently it’s “too small” for Flea, which is just my child’s code for “too pink” if you ask me.
Flea looked more sad.
“Okay, well, my bike is due a service, so let’s take both bikes to the repair shop and we’ll get yours sorted at the same time.”
Flea looked hopeful.
I have to say that getting two bikes into the boot of even a large car is pretty challenging. It involved a fair degree of lifting and panting and, “What do you mean, it’s too heavy? No you CAN’T JUST DROP IT!”
But that’s nothing compared to getting them both out at the other end, when the two bikes’ pedals and chains have mingled in a way that would put 50 Shades characters to shame.
Fifteen minutes and several scraped knuckles later, I managed to manoeuvre two bikes out of the car, and up the stairs at Halfords, where I presented them to the bike guy. I explained the problem with Flea’s bike, and told him all the things I’d tried adjusting, to no avail.
And then he took hold of the handlebars and rotated them through 360 degrees.
Hey presto, working brakes.
I did what any other parent would do in such circumstances of course.
I looked at my small child and said, “Oh honestly, Flea, that’s the FIRST thing I told you to try.”
I’m pretty sure he bought it.