Go for a bicycle ride with your parents, for crying out loud!

by Raymond Parker on July 16, 2012

in Autobiography, Cycling

parkers-ogden-point

(Click to enlarge)

It was my dad, Ray Sr., who pushed me off on my first wobbly ride, sans training wheels, on a suburban road in Wednesfield, England.

I retain a distinct memory of those first pedal strokes: the curb, too close to my unsteady front wheel, threatening to end my adventure until I lifted my gaze to the road ahead and to freedom.

Soon I would venture outside of the familiar housing estate; first to nearby rural lanes—Blackhalve, Linthouse, Kitchen—later across county borders and into the hills of Shropshire.

I recently read a wonderful post by New York randonneur and writer Keith Snyder, about a random ride with his boys. It told of important things, like sandwiches in the park, weathering wipeouts … and ice-cream.

What a great thing Snyder is doing for his young twins, I thought. Is there any better thing a father can do?

This week another father (and randonneur) Alex Pope is taking his children (aged 13 and 11) on a bicycling adventure through some of Vancouver Island’s most scenic and hilly territory, covering 20-30 kilometres per day.

Bicycle commuting, as well as touring, was nothing strange in the Midlands, where I grew up. Most people rode to work, often to positions in local bicycle factories. To get to her first job at a tourist cafe, my mother rode her bike all the way to the Welsh coast. My dad transported me to nursery school, perched on a tiny saddle, bolted to his bike’s crossbar in front of him. My parents also owned a tandem.

Now in his 83rd year, Ray Parker Sr. is still a working entertainer. During the early years of my bicycle mania, we rarely rode together. Dad was often away with his day job, and worked nights in pubs and clubs, not only out of love for the stage but to help sustain the household.

Recently, we’ve had the chance to ride together again. Not only is Dad no longer preparing for, or away on, cross-country tours (his shows are mainly local now), but I’m not myopically focussed on racking up kilometres and training for randonnées.

The reason for this last fact I will discuss on Thursday, but suffice to say, today, that one must be thankful for small mercies.

Last week, I threw Dad’s bike up on the stand for a quick clean and lube, then we rolled down to the cruise ship terminal, at Ogden Point in Victoria. The photo above shows us posing beside the Town Crier statue there. The plaque bears Dad’s name as an official town crier, something he has done for many years, winning awards in competitions around the world.

If I were a town crier, I would proclaim:

 Oyez, Oyez, Oyez!

Let it be it be known far and wide
And all around the countryside
There’s nothing better than a bicycle ride
with father and/or mother at your side
Whether you are young or old
It can’t be bought, it can’t be sold
It’s a gift worth more than gold.
Turning wheels together will show
How far you’ve come, though not where you’ll go
Along the winding lanes of life
Though opposing winds may blow
You are riding in the flow
You are carefree, you are kin,
You carry the uniting code within.

Ray Parker July 16, 2012 at 11:08 am

Yea verily, thou speaketh the truth,
Long may people cycle forsooth.
Improve their health,
for that is wealth.
God Bless the Queen and cyclists everywhere

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