In the past week, my two eldest boys, Jenson(5) and Luca(3), got their first bike, a Scott Voltage 12 inch. I remember my first bike fondly, in fact I still had that 12 incher late into my teenage years. Even after the training wheels, and eventually pedals came off, it still provided hours of fun for my brother and I.
It’s a proud moment for any father, especially one passionate about cycling, to see their kids take to their first freedom machine. For kids all over the world, a bike represents freedom to roam the Earth (within the parents boundaries, and sometimes beyond). This feeling carries over into car ownership. So ordering and presenting the bikes to Jenson and Luca was a big moment for me. Shame the abundance of other gifts distracted them from the bike. But I’ll work on changing that over time, with some quality Daddy son time on two wheels.
As a part of getting the bikes, I also did some research into the role a bike can play in the relationship between a Father and son. What I found was some pretty interesting insights that have me keen to head to a park with the boys and their bikes. The hope is that bikes will be a great father son relationship builder. I’m not going to force upon them, but definitely give them every chance to fall in love to life on two human powered wheels.
Here are some tips on how to balance being a dad and a cyclist:
- Know your priorities
I’ve read before the two and a quarter rule, people only have capability to commit 100% to 2 and a quarter things at a time. Family takes up a point, work takes up another point, and you have 1/4 left to slice however you wish. This is where I try to fit in my cycling. Indeed, I love riding, but I also know that spending time with my family and my work are two important things that I cannot sacrifice. Bikes with my kids is such a strong bonding opportunity, as they get to see Daddy in his element. It also means I can create some amazing overlap between family and cycling.
- Better time management
I allot a specific schedule for cycling, working around my family, not the other way around (sometimes, training as early as 4am to fit it in). This way, cycling doesn’t disturb my family and career space. In the past, I’ve set aside Saturday morning to purely focus on the boys. I’ve taken them to parks, wetlands, the jungle, but now I can add cycling. This week, Saturday morning would be learning to ride.
Of course, there are days where time won’t allow me to ride due to sudden circumstances. This is where I learned to improvise and squeeze in biking. Need to run an errand for my kids? I ride it out. This way, I still keep up getting fit. Luckily Singapore isn’t too big, but it is dam hot. So I like to find time the indoor training in the Lab, or mid-day rides in my lunch hour.
- Set a Budget
Biking isn’t just a time consuming sport: it could also be expensive. I consider all of my expenses and then set budget limit. Now that the boys have bikes as well, I’m going to have to resist the temptation to get them Garmin computers, power meters and aero jerseys.
- Have Fun
The most important one for me. I get my kids involved with biking, making sure they’re having fun. This way, I spend more time and get to share my passion with them. All the top cyclists I know, passionately love cycling, right from a young age. By doing something you love, it becomes more enjoyable and a great chance for the boys and I to bond.
Being a dad and a cyclist can be challenging but knowing how to balance being both may be as exhilarating as winning a race. For now, I just need to get a 3 year old and 5 year old to learn how a bike works. It’s all about enjoying the basics. Our attempt was hugely rewarding for me as father first, and a cyclist second.
Tell me about either your first bike, or the first bike you bought for your kid. What memories do you have from those moments?