Monday, 25 October 2021

Diary of a Cycling Instructor (Week 7th June — 11th June 2021)

Are children the only future we have? Aren’t we all (young and old) the future, too?


Seen at a primary school: “Children are the only future the human race has. Teach them well”.

I’ve no problem with trusting the younger generation to guide us in the right direction. But I do think that by focusing solely on them, we end up ignoring those like me in their mature years. Thus, we create a two-tier system. Children, teenagers and young adults sit at one end, all future-ready, whereas middle-aged and elderly people occupy the other, past their prime and with no future to look forward to. The much-needed cross-generational overlap doesn’t happen or it happens rarely. The only future the human race has is an across-the-ages approach, in which we leave behind our differences and hang-ups and concentrate on our similarities and common goals.

Now, let’s go outside and teach this lot how to do a proper hand signal.

Odd, incongruous and ironic sign of the day: “We only have one planet. Look after it”, whilst underneath it sat two packs of 12 plastic water bottles each.

Working in schools again reminds me of that moment when you have a group of children in front of you in a semicircle. Most seem to be paying attention to what you’re explaining, but there’s always one talking in a low voice, their pitch just a few decibels high, enough to communicate the joke, but not enough to remain unnoticed.

There are some sounds in schools that I’ve missed: for instance, the slapping sound of a pair of flip-flops marching down a corridor, announcing the arrival of summer.

Terminology in cycling training can be confusing sometimes to outsiders. For instance, the phrase “creeping and peeping” has nothing to do with stalking someone. It’s what happens when we approach a junction and visibility is poor. As we inch past the give way lines (creep), we’re in a better position to make a judgment (peep) as to whether to continue our journey or wait.

Another phrase that might floor those not familiar with cycling training is “new lane, new look”. This phrase has nothing to do with our approach to fashion, but how we negotiate junctions, turn at them (new lane) and check behind (new look) to see what the traffic is like.

Sadly, cycling also falls prey to the parenthood-as-status phenomenon. The perpetrators are chiefly dads and their sons. The former more than the latter. In this case, the offspring-on-two-wheels becomes an accessory to advertise daddy’s coolness.

Time and time again we come across the “But my dad says…” type of comment when we’re training children. To which the only reply can be “Yes. Your daddy says that you can ride with just one hand/use just the one brake/or not bother wearing a helmet. Sorry to break it to you like this, but, your daddy’s not always right. Also, it’s our duty to train you properly. Outside, you can do whatever you like, even take both your hands off the handlebar. But in here, we’re in charge.” That usually does the trick and keeps them quiet. The kids, not the dads.


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