A number of weeks ago, our little family of four took advantage of the first weekend of bike days on The Parkway, in which the West-bound Ottawa River Parkway (plus other parkways in Ottawa) is closed on Sunday mornings from 9am until 1pm for cycling.
This is an excellent family outing because you can bike along a very scenic part of the river without having to worry about traffic and cars, especially when you are riding with your kids, whose little bicycles still weave along the side of the road rather than hugging that space right near the sidewalk. Our ride included a stop at Westboro beach for a water and ice cream break, and it is activities like this that make me so happy that I live in Ottawa.
It is only this spring that 6yo B had decided to leave her training wheels behind for good, and even though she is still a little unsteady in her stops and starts, she is so gung ho to be biking like the rest of us. Our original plan was to bring the tag-a-long bike too in case B wasn’t up for a long ride, but with her positive attitude and determined personality, we just decided to go for it. She ended up biking about 7 km that day. See? Determined.
8yo N has been a fantastic cyclist for a few years now. She has great endurance, and can ride her bike forever. She is going to compete in her first duathlon this summer (running, biking, and then running again), so this outing was a training ride for N too. We have had some trouble conveying to N, the idea of pushing yourself during a race though. If the hill becomes difficult, she doesn’t attack that hill; she will get off her bike and walk, even if she is capable of climbing it. I know that she could bike much harder than she does, but I don’t see in her that competitive edge just yet, the drive to get there harder and faster.
Tony and I are not pushy parents (in my own humble opinion anyway!) and we have always let our girls explore things at their own pace. So here is N, who really does want to race, and who has the talent and ability to do very well in a race, but who has not yet realized what it will take for her to get there. It has to come from her, because it isn’t something that we can teach or explain.
There is just one thing, however, that does make N push herself, and that is the idea of her little sister catching up to her. B pushes herself very hard in everything she does. Her motivation comes from desperately trying to keep up with her sister and her friends, but it is also just a part of her. During this first Sunday ride of this summer, B was not far off being able to keep up with N. And N was keenly observant of this fact, which did indeed prompt her to pump harder and harder to get ahead. That was when she left her little sister in the dust. I was silently cheering her on.
Since that first weekend, we have ridden on the Parkway on as many Sunday mornings as we possibly could. Both girls have gotten stronger and faster. Also since this first ride, N and B competed in the Hintonburg 1K race, where N was about the 4th girl to finish. When I saw her coming toward the finish line my heart jumped because she was near the front and she was pushing herself as hard as she could. Her sweet little face showed the strain, and I could see that she was giving that race all that she had.
I was so proud of her, but best of all, she was proud of herself. I will be oh so proud of her no matter how this duathlon goes. She wants to be active and involved, and all the rest will come when or if it may.