My daughter has recently tried road racing for the first time. Held at Maindy cycle track, local club Maindy Flyers hosted a series of 3 races, utilising the concrete track and the cycle training circuit that runs through the centre of the stadium (complete with mini-roundabouts, lanes and tight turns). There were smiles all round. Kids so rarely get the opportunity to cycle their road bikes uninterrupted, that traffic free circles are a major treat. Anyway. She raced. She loved it.
Now these races start at around 7 in the evening, leaving little opportunity – or desire – for a full meal between leaving after school club and getting to the track (such is the hectic life of care free 9 year olds). So. She races. She watches her friend Jack race in the U12s (taking a rather impressive win incidentally – those kids can fly). She runs around and socialises. We finally head back. In the car she pipes up.
I’m really, really hungry.
I’m not surprised love. You’ve been racing for 20 minutes*. What would you like to eat?
Can I have anything?
PLEASE can I have a fried egg.
<mildly incredulous> A fried egg?
Yes. Maybe some toast.
It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. It wasn’t ‘fish and chips’ or ‘Can we go to the India Gate’? Or anything more glamorous or perceived as a treat. No. A fried egg.
I have an uneasy relationship with kids racing; at this age at least. I want it to be solely about learning skills, fun, enjoyment, putting smiles on faces, being fit and healthy. I don’t want to see pressure or worry or over excited parents mapping out unlikely pro-cycling careers. Not at 9 at least (nerves/pressure – either internal or externally applied – is almost unavoidable for keen junior riders from around 15 onwards). I just want it to be fun. And while a great evening is about whizzing around the track, watching your friends race, feeling quietly content, supping a hot-chocolate with floaty marshmallows, wrapping up warm from the biting wind, free running over an empty BMX pump track and finally being rewarded with the greatest gift of all – a FRIED BLOODY EGG, I think we may be winning.
*This is the only criticism of these races. 20 minutes is an awfully long time for younger kids to be racing.