Summer holidays can feel like they go on forever and, towards the end of it, the days just seem to repeat themselves. So, after being strapped in a pram for weeks, endless play dough sessions, never-ending rolling around in blankets, curtains and laundry and working nightshifts building things with bricks, my son had just had enough. Was there nothing better to do?
“How about making London’s streets a little less safe and creating a monster bike. A roaring, fear-inducing street devil, who can be your partner in crime for chasing pigeons in parks?” I proposed. He agreed. That wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
First, we fixed our elder son’s balance bike so the little one, who is three years old, could use it. Our eldest started riding it when he was only two and never had to ‘learn’ cycling as the transition to a proper bike was seamless.
The trick is that balance bikes have no pedals and therefore are very easy to use. This means children easily learn how to balance, which is the most difficult part of cycling.
Instead of using a balance bike, you can also remove the pedals on a regular children’s bike as described here. There is lots of other useful information on all aspects of cycling with kids on this site.
Next we worked through a large number of possible monster personality traits, we settled on a cheeky monster. Her name is Mini, he insisted. We made a plan on paper. Here the final draft of our design:
It took us a while to figure out how to make Mini. But after some experimentation and with just a bit of cardboard and tape, we soon discovered it wasn’t hard at all. We drew and cut out a big nose and huge eyes, somehow taped them together at the back and attached them to the handlebars of the bike.
It was fabulous and after a few attempts a very cheeky Mini emerged. …
But of course she needed a contagious disease to scare our hardened Londoners away. So we added red dots wherever we found a squeaky clean and healthy spot.
Making a monster bike turned out to be long-term fun. Not only did we like the day we made Mini, but ever since, Mini has become a really good friend of the family and we take her with us wherever we go!
We can highly recommend making your own bike monster. If you are nice to them, they may even start talking to you – at least we hope so…
There is lots of information on the TfL website to help you and your family get into cycling, including route maps, suggested rides, info on cycle skills training, family-friendly rides and lots more.