On 28 May 2022, the Paratus Bike Shredders Series – organised by Life Cyle Events and Timing was launched, with the final race held in Ruretse on 3 December 2022. My children, Kaia (age 10) and Thiwa (age 8), participated in all three races. For each race, there were three distance options – 5km, 10km and 20km. Kaia started the series with a 2nd place win in the 20km Girls Category but in the remaining races, she faced stiffer competition from faster and older girls. Although Thiwa is technically sound, especially given his age and size, he struggled in all three races – a puncture in the first, a fall in the second, and sand in the third! But I’m so glad that my children were given this opportunity to experience such varied terrains as well as emotions, ranging from joy to disappointment, which are so important in building strong character and resilience. In today’s blog, I’m sharing five key lessons my kids took from this great initiative.
Key Lessons from the Cycling Challenge Series
It’s Fun! The kids love riding but at first there was some reluctance to participate in the series. Not so much from Kaia, but certainly from Thiwa. I think nervousness played a part and as parents we had to balance between not forcing them but strongly encouraging them to do it. When Kaia earned second-place, she was so excited, but more importantly, she had fun. But even in the last two races where she did not win or place, she has still expressed having so much fun on the course, proudly displaying her medals on the headboard of her bed.
It Builds Mental Toughness. For the first two races, Ditiro accompanied Kaia, but in the last one we wanted to see how she would fare on her own. As one of the final finishers, she spent almost 2 hours by herself in the bush. To say I was nervous is an understatement, and towards the end, Ditiro headed onto the trail to check if she was okay. Thankfully, she was, and proudly described an “exciting” encounter with a cow! I’m so grateful to the photographer who captured this! This last stint on her own was really important to building her mental toughness. She’s our Iron Girl!
Thiwa had a tyre puncture in his first race so didn’t finish; he fell in the second race and had to deal with a bully calling him names (but still finished), and in the third, he had a miserable time on the very sandy terrain but still finished in 1h15. So, he hasn’t had the best time in the series, but he has definitely earned his medals with a big topping of mental stamina which I know will serve him well in future races but also as he navigates other life challenges. And as I told him, there are not many 8-year-olds doing the 10K course – he should be so proud of himself.
Always Do Your Best. Something we have tried to instil in our kids is giving your all, no matter the circumstances. Our family mantra is not “We are winners” but rather “We always give our best”. We continuously try to emphasise that we don’t mind if you don’t come first in a race or if you don’t get top marks in class, but we do care that you give your best no matter the subject or sport. I think participating in races like this helps to instil this in them more and more – that you don’t have to win, but you need to go out there with a good attitude and do your best.
Training Needs to be Fun. For this last race, both kids were untrained. I don’t remember when the last time they rode their bikes was. In fairness to them, we have been incredibly busy and haven’t taken them for rides. The schedule we designed consisted mostly of unsupervised drills in the garden which they did not find interesting. I think at this age if training is not fun, it’s not going to happen. So, before the next event, we will have to bring fun into training – a programme that teaches them technical skills but also keeps them excited. Without that, it will be difficult to convince them to enter races just for more muscle and mental thrashings!
You Bond as a Family. With our crazy schedule of school runs, activity drop offs, homework, work and deadlines, running and blogging, the kids don’t always get our undivided attention. But this series gave us an opportunity to spend time as a family where the kids felt we were 100% focused on them – getting the bikes ready, preparing race outfits and fuel, discussing the race before and after, and just being together as a family. For the final race, my brother-in-law Gorata, who is visiting from Australia, also got the opportunity to join the fun and see first-hand what the kids get up to. I love that our selfie was captured by one of the photographers!
With all that said – THANK YOU to the race organisers and sponsors for a great series. We are looking forward to even more in the new year! Do your kids enjoy sport or need some encouragement? What lessons have your children gained from participating in sports? How do you make sport fun for them?