Kids of Mud

You may have noticed this blog is a little one-dimensional. I write about bikes and biking, and that’s about it. I don’t write about my work, my relationships, or my kids. This isn’t “Winnipeg Hockey Mom”, because I get to be that the other 95% of my life when I am not on a bike.

But today I’m making an exception because my worlds have collided. My youngest son (whom we refer to affectionately as “#2”, a nickname he tolerates from us even after we told him what “#2” stands for) relinquished soccer this year for the kids’ bike program called “Kids of Mud“. Having “mud” in the name made this a pretty easy sell.

I have been very conscious of not pushing my bike obsession onto the kids, but #2 hadn’t really been enjoying soccer anyway, and any alternative that did not involve running around after a pack of elbowing boys and girls with spikes on their feet was worthy of some serious consideration.

#2 likes to ride his bike. Not loves – likes. It’s a start. The other day as we were raising the seat on his bike (which easily weighs four times what my new one does, something that makes me feel a little pang of guilt), he said, “Mommy, I want my next bike to have skinny tires, just like yours.” My heart exploded with roadie pride. I have shamelessly told this story a million times already, the way other parents brag about the virtuosity of their child’s harpsichord playing or uncanny mastery of dressage.

Whatever anxiety is felt by a chid embarking on a new recreational activity is dwarfed by the anxiety of the parent. Any of you hockey or swimming or soccer parents out there know exactly what I am talking about. What will the other parents be like? Will I fit in? Will they be cool? This may sound self-absorbed, but when Little Johnny is whizzing around the ice (or pool or field or whatever), parents are stuck on the sidelines surrounded by people with whom the only thing they have in common is successfully conceiving in the same year.

I needn’t have worried, Kids of Mud was a veritable family reunion of familiar faces, some I had seen just days earlier at the road race in Bruxelles. All was going to be just fine, I was with my own kind – a welcome change from the hockey moms who like to discuss private schools, yoga and caterers.

Introductions were made following a rousing and inspirational welcome by Coach Bill. You can tell he loves to share his love of bikes with the kids, and is proud of the fact that Kids of Mud has helped foster cycling in this province, supplying talent to every competitive level from provincial to pro.

Had it been around back then, Kids of Mud may have spared me hours of agonizing lessons on the accordion.

Coach Bill covers the basics, from the fit of your helmet to the different ways you can mount your bike – the cowboy, the scooter, and the classic moving cyclocross mount, which was wildly popular with the kids. Coach John demonstrated each mount perfectly, the latter eliciting gasps the likes of which are generally reserved for magic tricks with spectacular explosions.

I am embarassed to admit how much of what he said I didn’t know. Like how you should never leave your helmet in a sunny spot in your car, because it alters the density and therefore the integrity of the foam that protects your precious melon. This is good information to know.

After the formalities of the evening ended, we divided into four groups, a process I could only compare with herding kittens – children and parents wandering aimless and confused while coaches gently nudged and corralled. We cowboyed and scootered our way onto our bikes and rode off into the park like a pack of tiny Hell’s Angels with streamers and runny noses.

The evening was crowned by a close encounter with a  passing train, which rumbled past us on the foot bridge over the river – so close you could have reached out and touched it. Which I discouraged, unlike the parent of the kid in the pink jacket.

Yeah. It was cool.

#2 may never ride in the Tour de France, but Kids of Mud will give him a right and proper introduction to cycling. People who love biking will teach him to be safe, have fun and (I hope) to love biking too.

And as for the Tour, you just never know.