It’s often our parents who teach us to ride a bike and thus introduce us to a lifelong pleasure. On Father’s Day, we offer a heartfelt thank you.

As a rite of passage, it’s hard to think of a more touching moment. Your father holds you up as, for the first time, you wobble along on two wheels. It’s a metaphor for life, the handing of the baton from one generation to the next, the passing on of wisdom, of experience, and also of letting go. Short of teaching children how to walk, showing them how to ride a bike is a gift, the beginning, hopefully, of a lifetime’s cycling. As Pearson enjoys its 163rd year in the business, it’s a ritual we’ve witnessed time and again. So, with kFather’s Day upon us, we salute not just fathers but patient parents everywhere.

What you’re passing on is more than a basic balancing act; rather, it’s the perfect sweet spot between the laws of physics and engineering perfection.There’s no doubt the bicycle is a triumph of simplicity.That’s why the basic design has barely changed in more than 150 years. The world around it, of course, has changed a good deal. What was once a bumpy scoot along the tarmac from A to B, now offers a wealth of different types of riding. Road cycling epics, off-road adventuring, folding bikes, e-bikes; and then, of course, you’ve got all the… stuff. Apps, online training advice, sharing your favourite route, the connectivity that allows you to effectively compete with riders on different continents.

Yet the basic proposition remains the same. For every digital development there’s an analogue adventure ride still waiting to be conquered; it’s not about how far or fast (well, alright, it is sometimes) but more about throwing your leg over the top tube and seeing where two wheels will take you. Even on a short spin across town, there’s no such thing as ‘junk miles’.

hovis advert

Fathers and bicycles loom large in the national consciousness. The Hovis ‘bike’ advert, for example, in which a delivery boy pushes his bread-laden bike up a cobbled hill so steep it would frighten the peloton at Paris-Roubaix. Filmed in 1973, in Shaftesbury in Dorset, the director was the up-and-coming Ridley Scott. In the days before algorithms and curated content, when we watched something called scheduled television – you know, together – it was voted the country’s favourite ad.

Running close was another bike-themed yarn, for The Yellow Pages, in 1983. It also stars a young lad, mooning over a racing-bike brochure, only for his gruff father to chastise him: “I remember when bikes were bikes, proper mudguards and a cover for the chain.” A man after own heart, you might say, not least because he duly sources a thoroughly modern machine. (“I were right about that saddle, though.”) Ridley Scott’s very first film, for the record, was a 1965 short called Boy and Bicycle, featuring a boy and, well, a bicycle. Something of curio in both cycling and filmmaking terms, it nonetheless captures the humble pleasures of city riding.

axel and eddy

And should your father have a bit more cycling wherewithal than simply securing your stabilisers, having a well-known rider for a father has inspired numerous generations of pro riders to follow in their fathers’ pedal strokes. As the world’s greatest cycle race hoves into view next month, consider Davis Phinney, the American icon whose son is Taylor Phinney; or Stephen and Nicolas Roche, the Irish father-and-son duo who between then competed at the highest level for decades. Not forgetting, of course, Stephen’s gravel-riding debut in Pearson’s Inside Out series in 2022. Last, and by absolutely no means least, Belgium’s Axel Merckx, whose father, Eddy, is widely considered the best rider of all time.

beryl and denise burton

The idea that it’s mainly our dads who get us riding feels a bit out of step with the times; we know plenty of mums who’ve played their part, too. Witness Denise Burton, inspired to become a competitive rider by her mother, the legendary Beryl. So competitive, in fact, that when the two raced against each other at the British Championships of 1976, Denise’s victory grated with her mother so much that the two allegedly refused to shake hands afterwards.

For we mere mortals, cycling brings innumerable benefits to both mental and physical health. In the disembodied words that closed that famous Hovis ad: “It’s as good for you today as it’s always been.” And that’s thanks, very often, to our parents.

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Enjoyed every word written Will.

Fran Stanbridge June 21, 2023

Written with inspiring words from past to present and displays all the hallmarks of what we love about bikes and cycling

As cyclists we all remember the time we first hopped on a bike may it be borrowed or bought or like my father made me a bike from my sisters old bike

Thank you to the long standing pearson generation and the fathers and mothers who helped us all get our bike life’s started

Karl Clark June 21, 2023

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