At first the idea sounds vaguely daunting, heading out to unknown lanes to spend a few days in the saddle with your kids, but the reality is so much better; a trip away is an opportunity for physical and mental growth for all involved – and once everyone is weaned off of their tech addiction the growth is exponential!
I took my eldest (10 at the time) son out to Holland and Belgium last summer, it was to be a 250km road trip from the ferry port of Rotterdam, down through Antwerp, Geraardsbergen (to ride the Muur), and then across into Mons near the French border.
It was to be a relaxed ride, with very few hills for us to worry about, but it would be a long first day in the saddle, the idea being to arrive in Antwerp for dinner and have a good rest before the slightly hillier Belgium. And relaxed it was, the two of us gently meandering through the Dutch countryside, singing at the top of our lungs, and stopping whenever we could find interesting food!
Relaxation does affect speed it must be said, there were to be no KOM’s on this trip, with our average speed in the region of 12km/hr – instead we got to stop at sights, and sites, viewing the incredible engineering of the Dutch, and having our own mini-history tour across Flanders, where we could talk about the history of Europe and our place in time (gosh, that sounds dull in text, but it’s fascinating to discuss with a 10yr old!)
Upon our return to the UK, and school finding out about Christopher’s exploits, he got to have his head-teacher praise his efforts and give him a confidence boost at the start of the new year which was gratefully received. As a parent we look to ways to build up resilience in our children, providing them with positive anchors which can help them through school, and with his SATs starting this year it seemed like an ideal opportunity to build that resilience at this stage on his academic journey.
However, the most incredible sight didn’t come from the countryside, rather it came from witnessing Christopher grow in front of me, with each passing kilometre his confidence grew, and he stretched his own personal boundaries – aided by some pretty poor navigation from me we clocked in at 120km for the first day, and after a good sleep and LOTS of food, Christopher was able to appreciate the magnitude of the ride he had just done.
There were a great many nerves from us as parents as we set out on this summer adventure, not least of which centred around whether we would be able to ride the distance. To witness Christopher ride so far, and for so long each day, with a smile on his face and a song at his lips, was a parental joy!
If you are looking for reasons to take your kids out on a cycling holiday this year, the biggest I can give is the opportunity for growth that comes from them achieving such a goal, and the smile on their face as you spend family time talking about the trip and their experiences in the days and weeks that follow.
And his little brothers? Well, they looked-up at Christopher with absolute awe, and now they want their own adventure…..
You can read Martin’s blog at themartincox.co.uk