Today is the first of September . I’m looking out the window at a clear blue sky and the shadow of a beech tree being cast upon the ground by some glorious sunshine . Someone once said that the first two weeks in September is the best time to book your holidays as it is sure to be sunny when the kids go back to school . After all of the crappy weather all summer long a beautiful day like today should put a smile on everyone’s face . I can’t smile however as I have one overwhelming emotion coursing through me – Guilt !
Like thousands of other kids the length and breadth of the land , today our eldest daughter Laura began Montessori school . It’s not yet even real school and they will spend all morning playing but as I walked away from her as she begged me to come back and not leave her pllleeeeeeaaaassssssse daaaaaddeeeeeee , I felt as though I was the worst parent in the world deserting her . It’s just another stage on the rocky road of parenthood with plenty more to look forward to . Today will have been easy compared to some night way off in the future when Max – Fitzy junior calls to the door .
People often say that your school days are the best days of your life . I disagree . Trying to cope with growing up , hormones , and feeling self conscious about everything from the colour of your socks to the shape of your elbow is tough . However , one of the best things about my school days was cycling . I began cycling to school as a nine year old and this was a defining moment in my life . It gave me independence and responsibility . I was , after all the only one responsible for my safety and that of my bike , even if my mother drove behind me for the first week .
In secondary school , there were five hundred people and at least half cycled to school . Most people had some form of a racing bike so the cross over to trying out bike racing was very easy . In a class of thirty , four of us raced , and that was common throughout the school . Now when you pass any school it is very rare to see a single bike , although the line of corsa’s , punto’s and micra’s does indicate how they now get to school .
Yesterday , this years Tour of Ireland concluded and it was a great race . Having the final stage finish with four laps of St. Patricks hill in Cork was a real indication of how this race is trying hard to recreate the huge success of the Nissan Classic back in the eighties . ‘The Nissan ‘ got the whole country into a cycling frenzy but what the Nissan had was Kelly and Roche . Every school on the route came out to cheer them on and every child wanted to be Kelly or Roche . This caused a cycling explosion and one only has to look at the age of most of the top riders in the country to see when they began cycling and what influenced them .
The late eighties was Irish cyclings’ Baby Boom era and it will be interesting to see if this current version of the tour of Ireland will get school yard gatherings together discussing how they are going to emulate the feats of those who tackled St. Patricks hill yesterday . We do have a bit of a cycling boom at present , although it is more on the leisure side for events like the Sean Kelly Tour than a growth in racing numbers although there will be a certain amount of crossover . There are also a few talented up and coming riders out there like Sam Bennett , so perhaps we do have a lot to look forward to !