Archives for posts with tag: Proud Parent

My kids have brought me a lot of joy this year, with the addition of number two and our 4 year old son (AKA “the Pok”) with all his crazy antics. One of the highlights would have to be taking my son to the local bike store and putting him on his first pedal bike. He has already been scooting around on his balance bike since he was about 1 1/2 so I was hoping the graduation to pedals would be smooth. I would be lying if I said it was. I had to shave 20mm off of the seat post so he could put his feet down, and the pedals were just getting in the way, collecting his legs as he comes to a Fred Flintstone stop (you know the one that relies on a solid pair of shoes underfoot to avoid gravel rash in your heel).

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I thought that for the first couple of goes I would leave the training wheels on – MISTAKE! He loved them a bit too much and there was much rancor when I pulled them off. Even flat out refusal to ride. The reality is he was scared of falling. So after following him on a couple of rides (translation: running after him to catch him if he fell), he has found the courage to pedal. This is not the first clip of him riding, that will always just be for us, but now look at him motor!

Yes he has a rubber neck, but I am one very proud Dad! The cyclist in me says look at his cadence. The Dad in me says I hope he learns to stop before I have to buy a new pair of shoes. Now to get him primed to go over jumps!

I knew this moment was coming soon, and right now I am blessed with proud parenting moments. My boy, AKA “The Pok”, has very much outgrown his JD Bug balance bike and is ready for pedals. This post has two purposes. Firstly to show how proud my boy is of his new set of wheels, and secondly as a guide for parents buying their children their first bike.

Specialized Hotrock 16

After searching long and hard for my son’s first pedal bike, what I finally landed on was a Specialized Hotrock 16. This bike is the business!

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The Specialized oozes quality all round, like the adult models. And I was quietly surprised at finding this. I thought that I would struggle and would end up having to get a custom 16″ BMX bike made up for him. Check out the paintwork.

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The frame itself is coated in paintwork, not flimsy decal stickers. There are also no dinky infant commercial “tie-ins” to sell this bike – no Thomas the Tank Engine, no Diego, no Ben 10, and no Mickey Mouse. This is a bike, and a Specialized at that.

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The wheels, like the name suggests, are 16″ with a a decent set of strong spokes. Probably slightly overengineered, but you really don’t want to be fixing spokes on your child’s bike. The rubber is decent too, with a good tread pattern and at 2.0″ there is plenty of cornering grip from these shoes. The reflectors on the wheels are big, and that is good because you want your child to be seen on their bike. The great thing is that these 16″ wheels will make it easy for my to replace the rubber when my boy has worn through them (did I hear someone say Maxxis Hookworms?). Oh, and you can inflate these babies to 65PSI if you want to run fast on the road.

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The design of the saddle is smart. There is a handle lip at the rear that assists parents to hold onto the seat as my boy learns how to balance riding. Smart!

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The stem is pretty much a rugged 22.5mm BMX stem. This is fantastic from a longevity point of view, because I will be able to upgrade to a full size BMX stem when he gets older and taller without any issues. It is solid too, rigid and no flex.

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It is a single speed, and the rear mechanicals are covered up well by the transmission guard. This is good because it means that there will be less muck getting into the drivetrain. The rear brake is engaged by pedalling backwards, and I have many fond memories of doing rear brake skids on my BMX bike.

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The transmission guard is well designed and has a smart cutout for chainstay. This is probably the cheapest looking part on the bike, but it is supposed to be a plastic guard to keep the leg from getting caught in the transmission.

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The grips are great for small hands, and the rubber is durable but tactile and not too hard. The front brake lever is adjustable for reach too, again quality.

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And in a final touch of quality, the brake cable is a Jagwire. Who puts Jagwire on kids bikes? – Specialized do.

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I said at the start of the post that this bike is the business and when you have a good look it really is. Probably the biggest thing that I noticed when shopping around for kids bikes was how much lighter it was compared to others. This won’t come out in photos, but is super important for your child. A lot of that has gotta be in the frame design and the wheels. You want them to enjoy the ride not spend their time lugging around an oversized piece of metal.

So if you are looking for the first bike for your child, don’t waste your money on crappy cheap bikes from Kmart or Target. Spend the extra $50 or so and get this one. The fact is the other department store bikes are cheap, poorly designed, and probably weigh more than my dual suspension MTB (I am talking about you Huffy). But also look hard at what you are buying if you go for some of the other big brands. I looked at the Trek Jet 16 and it was very inferior in build quality and design with a whole bunch of unnecessary plastic “extras” – heavy too. I also looked at the Cannondale Trail 16 which was better design, but it was heavy! The great thing about this Specialized bike is that it also comes in a trim for girls too – if only that was the same as the hot pink as Chavanel rode on in last year’s TDF.

And on the most important question… How does it ride? I can’t get my son off of it. The video will come shortly, as soon as I take off his training wheels – he is ready.

P.S. I tried to justify getting a matching McLaren Venge, but then realised that divorce was not a life experience I was looking for.

After a torrential downpour and thunderstorms the night before, my planned morning Saturday ride was put on the back burner. To be honest, since my biggest ride down in Melbourne a few weeks back for Around the Bay I have backed off the cycling a bit to have a bit of a rest for both my body and head. But Summer is only a couple of weeks away now and I have got the itch to first complete my new MTB build and get back in the saddle and ride. Funny thing was this morning as I was about to add the next bit of my new MTB construct, the forks, my boy (AKA “The Pok”) turned around and said “Can we go for a bike ride?” He had a grip on the left side of his handlebars with one hand and his helmet in the other hand. But he didn’t just want to go for a spin with me walking (more like running to keep up) behind him, he wanted me to ride my bike with him. I thought about it for a split second, then told him “put your shoes on and let’s get ready to roll!” I was going to take my MTB steed with some road / urban shoes on it and take him for a ride.

Our First Ride Together

Living in the city, it is a bit dangerous for a little man to be riding, but fortunately we live within walking distance to one of the many parts of Sydney Harbour where there are walking paths along the shoreline. So as soon as we got down there we jumped in the saddle and off we went. There were puddles everywhere which was like waving a bit of candy in front of The Pok. Every puddle was a target to ride through, which meant for him wet shoes and socks (he is on a balance bike) … and a huge grin from ear to ear. Our destination was the corner store at one of the wharves around the corner from Darling Harbour in Sydney, and the reward was ice cream. I didn’t realise that this was going to be 2.5km riding away, but he didn’t balk at it for a second. The Pok was even foxing a bit with me in the set of mini races that we had, where he would slow down and lag behind waiting for me to back off a bit before he would shoot off and ride ahead of me yelling back “Daddy, I am winning and you are the slowest in the world”. This bit of trash talking was muttered several times, and I had to hold back my competitive rebukes (I will smash him in a few years when we are in a proper race so he understands the pecking order while I am ahead – hehehe – Dad’s rights). When we hit the propellers, we turned around and I couldn’t let this moment not get caught on film. Here is the video I took riding alongside him.

By the time we got back home we had knocked up 5km, pretty impressive for a recently turned 3 year old boy. The Pok came up to just as we reached our street and said to me in a contrite tone “Sorry for teasing you Daddy.” I didn’t get it and replied, “What were you teasing me about?”

He said “Sorry for teasing you about being slow.” Then he burst out giggling to run back and tell his Mum about our ride together. In recounting our little adventure he told his Mum, “When I get bigger and get a bigger bike, me and Daddy are going to go on a long ride together.” I am looking forward to that (and in kicking his butt in our next “race”

When I started writing this blog last year, I decided to name it in honour of my son – affectionately known as the Pok. Well this last week he turned three. And what a whirlwind three years it has been for us. We are so happy to have a healthy, cheeky boy who is full of energy and cunning (though he hasn’t figured out how not to get caught). The terrible twos were not really terrible, and now we are challenged with a little member of the family who is smarter than we give him credit for and he knows what he wants.

Regardless, we didn’t have have the opportunity to celebrate his birthday with family and friends last year so this year we decided to put on a ‘do’. His birthday proper was a few days before the party, and this was the first time he realised that it was a special day. When he woke up he was greeted to presents. One of the presents was ‘requested’ by him – “Daddy, for my birthday I want overhead railway tracks”. These are the wooden rails for the toy trains from Thomas the Tank Engine and Chuggington. Easily pleased. We threw in a few other ‘vehicles’ – some toy planes from the new Disney movie “Planes”. To say he was overwhelmed and happy would be an understatement.

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When he finally came downstairs to eat breakfast he got the chance to open up other presents flown in from the UK from his Grandparents. Happier boy… and for the record it was a special delivery of more trains

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To rev him up for his party, as he was still figuring out what this would all mean, the Mother of the Pok (my wife) got him involved in the food preparation exercise. One of the things he loves doing with his Mum is cooking and it gives me great joy watching him share one of my wife’s passions. He got to assist in making the cake, and it was not a bad effort on my wife’s part.

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We held his party at the hall next to the children’s bike riding venue that I have blogged about previously. We didn’t have any games planned other than “Kids bring your bikes and scooters!” And the kids (via their parents) obliged. They zoomed off in all directions and generally caused chaos. It was great! And a couple of his friends (who had just turned three themselves) brought their new bikes to get rolling too.

Cutting the cake was the topping off of a great kid’s party. We haven’t seen too many times where the Pok was happy and humbled at the same time. This was the first time that he realised that the one day of the year that was all about him was his birthday.

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We are blessed to have a happy and healthy boy who brings us so much happiness. Now it is our job as parent’s to raise him with the understanding of how fortunate he is and that he doesn’t squander the opportunity that he has, and a lot of other children don’t.

This week’s travel theme from Ailsa’s blog “Where’s my backpack?” is Sweet. Our household has a pretty strong sweet tooth, and I think it runs through both sides of our families. If I was to be honest our son, AKA The Pok, just has a food tooth where sweet is just part of it. But when we travel we also often find ourselves savouring the local sweets, though we are too busy eating them than taking photos of them – Japanese mochi anyone? As usual, the images link to my larger photos on Flickr.

We love going to the Hunter Valley (NSW, Australia) to visit the vineyards and discover new wines. I especially like the “stickies” and ports in addition to many of the white wines that are specialities of the region. One of the first photos I took using my first digital camera, a Canon PowerShot G2, was this closeup of the grapes. They were not far off from being picked and I love the deep colour.

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Still in Australia, quite often when we travel to Melbourne, Australia to visit my brother and his wife we end up at the Prahran Markets. I took this photo of one of my favourite types of sweets – macarons. Apparently these ones are gluten free (does that make them any less sweet?).

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On our honeymoon, our first stop was Shanghai, China where we spent time in the old French Quarter. On our first day after checking in we decided to go out for a walk and get “lost”. It is a thing we often do where we forget about the map and walk the local area to discover it. It started raining and to find shelter we found a market that the locals were busily shopping at. It was the first time that we had been in a market in China (not Hong Kong – different). This fruit vendor had all her wares on display and we didn’t recognise many of the fruits, though my wife was making her best attempts.

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We have been to Singapore several times, and we often indulge for a few nights by staying in many of Singapore’s top hotels (two or three nights is often all we can afford for a splash of holiday luxury). One of the best hotels we have stayed at on the island nation was the Pan Pacific near Marina Bay. In the lead up to Christmas they adorned the foyer with many decorations including a HUGE gingerbread house. We we tempted to sample its walls, but didn’t for fear of bringing on a collapse.

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This is not technically a travel photo, but it is sweet in many ways. My grandmother (on my Dad’s side) turned 100 before she passed away. We, along with my large family, got to celebrate the century with our Grandmare in a huge party. She lived a tough life through her youth and in a tumultuous century that saw two world wars. Her country of birth went from being a British Colony to achieving independence, but not before a civil war that went along religious lines. She also raised six kids, and had the unfortunate life experience of having two other children die as infants soon after birth. Relocating to Australia when she was in her sixties must have been quite unnerving, particularly as French was her first and primary language – but she managed it all in her stride. She was a mean and competitive card player and loved her soap operas. All through her life she was very active, breaking her hip not once but twice – and that still didn’t stop her. And if you ever got in her way to a bottle of cherry you would come off second best. The party was grand, and it is the first and only birthday cake that I have seen with three numbers on it.

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Finally, back to our son – The Pok. He is a champion eater of anything but he has very much discovered the delights of chocolate, ice cream, and cake. The challenge for us as parents is to moderate his delight in food, which is becoming even more challenging now that he knows how to open the fridge door and grab the stool to reach for things. At least for us he loves eating his vegetables as well. We very much enjoy watching him make a mess and grin while eating, and he now assists my wife in baking too.

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Check out some of the other bloggers posts at Ailsa’s site in the comments with their postings, as always there are some really good photographs couple with some interesting stories.

Sometimes the things your child does just make you proud. My 2 year old son – the Pok – is growing at a rapid rate and never ceases to amaze me with the things he does or spits out. One thing that I have really enjoyed is that he has taken to my love of bikes. It should not surprise me as he sees my road steed near the entrance of our home every day, and whenever I am adjusting it or getting it ready for a ride he rushes over to both me and the bike. Not to mention the number of times he has fallen asleep in the trailer behind me while I am towing him along.

I have been trying to teach him all the parts of the bike as he has been studiously observing me. He has proven to be a quick learner. I regularly quiz him on where the parts are on the bike, asking him to show me as I name them. His pass rate so far is about 90%.

Parts of a Bicycle LabeledImage source: Jim Langley – Bicycle Aficionado

So in true father – son fashion I took him into a BMX bike store on our pre-Christmas trip to visit my brother in Melbourne. My son was awestruck when he saw all the chrome accented bikes hanging on the walls. He was especially chuffed when he saw a cabinet containing a kaleidoscope of metallic coloured cassettes, stems, and cranks. As it was a BMX bike store, I knew that most of the bikes would be custom made to the buyer’s tastes and design. We found the workbench where the store mechanic was putting together a new steed and I stood him up on the bench so he could see. The mechanic barely acknowledged we were there until…

Daddy (me): “Pok can you show me the wheels?”

Pok (my son): points to the front wheel and then rear wheel, “there, there”

Daddy: “Pok, can you show me the pedals?”

Pok: points to the right and left pedal, “there is two Daddy”

Daddy: “Pok, can you show me the forks?”

Now at this point the mechanic turned ever so slightly to see who was invading his workshop space.

Pok: pointing to the forks, “there Daddy”

Daddy: “Pok, can you point to the saddle?”

Pok: pointing to the bike seat.

Daddy: “Pok, can you show me the stem?”

Pok: pointing to the neck stem, “there Daddy, its glued to the bars.” (everything that is joined together is glued)

This definitely caught the attention of the store mechanic, who properly turned around and noticed a two year old standing on his work bench.

Daddy: “What is the man holding?”

Pok: “Allen key”

INSTANT JAW DROPPING RESPECT FROM THE BIKE MECHANIC!

Mechanic: “How old is he?”

Daddy: “Two!” with a grin beaming from ear-to-ear.

For 15 seconds, I was the proudest Dad in the world!

And with that we said our goodbyes to the store mechanic and went off to find the rest of our troupe.

So now the problem I am going to have is one that I imparted on my father, pinching his tools and not returning them to their rightful home.

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At least I know that he will know what to do with them once he uses the tools in anger. Who said that these were the terrible twos?

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