cycling · family · fitness

My mother the cyclist!

Regular readers of the blog know that I’m part of a family of cyclists. My daughter Mallory and I ride together a lot. See here for our most recent adventure. But I didn’t know that my mother, Kathleen Brennan, rode a bike as a child.

It’s not that she’s never ridden a bike. She did ride my old bike for awhile as a grandmother caring for grandchildren when my sons were riding bikes to school and needed accompaniment. My mum took care our kids while Jeff and I both worked from the time our third child was born. So I have seen her on a bike. It’s just that I’ve never thought of her as having a bike riding past.

I made the discovery about my mother’s bike riding past this week when we had a basement flood. Boxes of old family photos were in the basement and Facebook friends know that we’ve been traveling down memory lane a bit. I keep taking pictures of photos and sharing them in Facebook albums (with family members’ permission, of course) before they dry all curled up. Our houses are interesting places to be right now as the old photos are being laid out on all flat surfaces everywhere to dry.

It turns out that my mum got her bike Christmas when she was 10. She lived in small town northern England, in Lancashire that’s part of a cluster of connected towns and communities–Colne, Nelson, Barrowford, Brierfield, and Burnley.

The photo below is from her school’s Bike Safety Rally in 1954 when she was 12. Notice the lack of helmets. But I love the smiling faces and her basket!

That’s my mother, Kathleen, on the far left.

I asked her some questions about riding a bike: Did she remember riding? Did she like it? Was safety a big deal for kids who ride the way it is now? Why did she stop?

Here are some of her replies, “Yes, I remember riding my bike. It gave me a certain amount of freedom. It was a big deal when I got the bike as it was new, a Christmas present. I remember being so excited as there wasn’t any snow and I could use it that day. No, I don’t think safety was as big an issue. We had the safety rally at school but I don’t remember getting much in the way of advice from parents as neither of them rode a bike that I know. Also, we never really had to use the main road, so many small local streets you could get into Nelson easily. I used to go to the library for me and Dad. I think there was equal riding for both girls and boys. I loved riding and for a while went to work by bike then I changed jobs and went by bus. I think I stopped riding when your Dad came on the scene. He had a motor cross motor bike and we used to go to rallies.”

Thanks Mum!

2 thoughts on “My mother the cyclist!

  1. That’s neat to hear! And so funny you didn’t know about it, but turned out to be a cyclist anyway. I’ve been thinking for awhile that my dad’s love of running might be why I’m a runner now. He never talked about it a lot, but pretty consistently while I was growing up, he’d get up early in the morning, stretch in the living room, and go run a few miles down our street. It was never a point of much attention or conversation, but I’m beginning to think it may have influenced me more than I thought!

  2. I love the lst larger photo, Sam. It’s like a wonderful portrait shot.

    When my father was 83 yrs. old (and by then he had cancer, but controlled (for 6 yrs. before he died a few yrs. ago), he suddenly joined a grandson with table tennis for half an hr. I could see my father still had his sprightly spring and manoeuvres, that decades ago he enjoyed table tennis as a young teen. First time, in our lives we even saw father play table tennis. We never saw any “exercise” except he used to walk a lot when we didn’t have a car for lst 14 yrs. of my life and he stood for hrs. in his job as a restaurant cook.

    I took a photo…which is forever in our hearts and happy visual memory.

    (For the first time also, when my father was 78 yrs. old, we witnessed him tinkering on his grandson’s electronic keyboard. We never knew he had a musical past as a school boy until so late in life. He died a few yrs. ago.)

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