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  • Writer's pictureJason Downes

21/52: A ride to change your life

As a parent, you just want the best for your kids. Sometimes I worry I push them too hard. Today I had the opportunity to take my eldest daughter on a bike ride that might just change her life.

 Arthurs Seat on the Mornington Peninsula, in Victoria, sits just outside Melbourne overlooking the turquoise waters of Port Phillip Bay. Winding up the North side of this small mountain is a picturesque road of 12 switchback turns that climb 300 vertical metres over 3kms. In short, it's a very steep hill that's super-hard to ride up…and it attracts cyclists like mad!

I'm lucky enough to regularly ride this beast and I tell anyone that will listen just how hard, and how rewarding the climb is. So imagine my surprise and delight when my eldest daughter asked if she could cycle it with me today. Yes!!

Indianna is ten years old and she can ride a bike. In my book, that qualifies you to try one of the hardest climbs in the land! So we set off today, during our work from home lunch break, from the foot of the climb. The first 1/3rd of the ride is the hardest and Indianna was struggling early. Not once did she say "I can't do this" but she did ask to stop for a few rest stops.

At halfway she was 'cooked' and described her legs as jelly and that every muscle in her body was telling her to stop. Her face was red and she grimaced a lot. Hmmm, maybe we should stop? But at her third, and last, rest stop I let her know that she'd past halfway and we were past the hardest parts. I described the feeling of 'beating the hill' and getting to the top. Indianna dug deep and slowly but surely just kept pedalling.

As you round the last corner, you can see the café at the top. Suddenly my eldest changed gears and took off laughing. After 40 minutes of struggle and strain, we reached the top of Arthurs Seat and the brightest, most beautiful smile came upon Indianna's face. This wasn't a sporting achievement, this was a personal achievement.

Add to this, despite her reservations, Indianna turned around and carefully descended the mountain with me. This was just as big an achievement considering how anxious she was about riding down the 'windy hill'. Kudos kid.

So what do I take from this?

It's not every day that you get to push your kids gently towards something that's really hard but then turns out great. Tenacity and resilience played a huge part in Indianna's ascent of Arthurs Seat today and it's these skills I know she'll need time and time again throughout her life. When the road ahead is difficult and there's no easy way out, I hope she can remember that time she dug deep and climbed that hill. 


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