When did you last ride a bike just for fun?

As we careered down the clay and gravel path, my son took both feet off the pedals and stuck his legs out sideways. I whipped out my phone and snapped that shot.

When did you stop just mooching around on your bike, riding it at medium or slow pace just to have something to do? When did cycling become all about getting fit, saving money, lycra, beating internet strangers on Strava?

Have you forgotten how much simple fun going out on a bike can be? And in today's strange times and with an adult head full of wordly grown-up concerns surely there is even more need to reconnect with doing things just for fun.

When I was a boy, I'd spend hours franticly pedalling around the housing estate and later back lanes where I lived. I'd be out till nearly dark either solo or with friends. I had so much fun one evening that I crashed into someone else's bike, flew over the handlebars and knocked both my front teeth out. Things were bad until the grown-up's found them so I could collect my money from the tooth fairy in the morning.

When a little older I rode for hours on a friend's BMX through a dried up river bed, that was a perfect half pipe. 

I bought an old Raleigh Chopper off another friend and pulled wheelies on it until I broke the handlebars.

My mum bought me a brand new Dawes Lightning racing bike at 13 and I spent as much time as possible just flying around with friends.

And then, I grew up. I stopped cycling for years. In my 30's I dabbled, bought a mountain bike, went off road once with my brother, cycled to work once and then didn't use it much more.

In my 40's I bought a 'proper' road bike, my trusty and well loved Orbea. It was sleek, fast and I spent many a mile on it's slim tyres. It was good, and fun, but still a mite serious.

9 years olds don't really do serious. They do fun. Fun without limits. Fun without regrets. So when I wanted to join my son I bought a very used old mountain bike to have fun with him. And it's really beginning to rub off on me.

So, last night. It was still light, we'd had pizza for tea. I said to him, "Let's go and have a bike ride."

"Ok Dad!" he replied and put down his Nintendo.

We started along the parkland and tracks. We ducked under low willow branches that overhung the trail. We talked about all sorts of things. We headed out to a little hill near the scout hut where, every time we pass it he insists on riding down, or rolling down if bike-less. 

"Right, I'll speed down and jump off that mound at the bottom. You watch me Dad!" he said.

I watched him and then had a go myself. I looked ridiculous. I didn't care. I was having fun.

We stayed there playing for a good while. Then we cycled back home, chatting, laughing, being silly as before.

This was a good way to spend some time. And my challenge to you, dear reader, would be this. If you've got a bike or a small child to ride with, go out soon, or better still now, and have a ride, just for the sake of having fun, nothing more.

And come back smiling.

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