Competitive and Confident

This past weekend, I discovered that my nearly-five-year-old son is competitive and my nearly-nine-year-old daughter confident. They were born on the same day exactly four years apart. I planned that. (Just kidding) Next week, they will celebrate their birthdays.  He’s a lovely boy – inquisitive, chatty and charming.  He takes a little while to warm up to a new idea, activity or person. She can be stubborn but she’s interested in everything and always willing to try new things. And as he’s the youngest in the family, he’s playing catch-up in everything.

My husband Justin loves cyclocross and is referred to as Mr. Velo-a-Porter from time to time.

We went to Newcastle for the start of the cyclocross season this past weekend. My husband loves the sport. I’ve often heard cyclocross race commentary emanating from the computer late on summer evenings. I’m familiar with the terms “Like a Vos” and “Svenness.” However, CX, as it is referred, is quirky enough to have piqued my interest as well.

Fantastic to have meet Bernard at Metro Cycles!

Saturday we planned to explore the city by bicycle at a leisurely pace. After breakfast, the kids enjoyed the hotel swimming pool with my husband. I stopped by MetroCycles to exchange the painful seat of the borrowed Gazelle CityZen e-bike for another. Afterwards, I went to Darby Street and bought a dress that I had seen the day before.  The cars were very calm around the inner city.

I found this beautiful dress from S/W/F at Azzra Mayya in Newcastle.

After lunch, we rode to the lighthouse at Nobby’s Beach. Unfortunately, my daughter went off a curb and had a pinch flat. My husband went back to the hotel with her to patch the tyre. Consequently, my son and I bicycled to the Seawall and enjoyed the view. He’s very fast on his balance bike now. He started riding when he was three.

Getting ready to press on to the end of the Seawall.

We went to the beach and that’s when I began to learn more about his developing competitive nature. In kindergarten, he’s learning to read and write.

Without my husband and daughter around, he had me all to himself. He commented happily that today reminded him of our “Oma (mummy in Korean) stay-home-days” on Fridays when he was in childcare. He wanted to show me his writing skills on the beach.

It’s quite amusing how one of my children will be in trouble with me and the other will try to placate me.  I’m not used to this fight for my attention. Why? I was an only child until I was fifteen. My brother was born when I was in year 9. By that time, I needed a break from precise parental attention.

My son enjoying the race. Photo: Riding Focus, Josh Nicholson

On Sunday, my son fell off his balance bike during the kids cyclocross race and hurt his hand. He was crying. I hadn’t seen the start of the kids race because I was finishing mine.

Thankfully, I am nearing the end of my race. Photo: Riding Focus, Josh Nicholson

My husband said that he had been in second place until he fell.

Jumping over barriers is part of the fun of cyclocross. Photo: Riding Focus, Josh Nicholson

I showed up in time to tend to his swollen finger and bruised ego.  He was more upset that he didn’t win.  He’s won two balance bike races in the past year and was lamenting that he wouldn’t get a medal.  I was trying not to laugh while icing his hand. My son has become accustomed to winning. Maybe too soon?

I am a big proponent of “doing the work” in life. I wasn’t the smartest kid in high school but I worked hard to be in the top 20 of my high school graduating class. Math wasn’t the easiest subject for me but I worked to make it to calculus in year 11. The first time I tried cyclocross two winters ago, it hurt. I felt like I wanted to die (or give up) with the effort. Regular road cycling sessions on Saturday mornings in Centennial Park have improved my strength and technical skills enormously. Commuting is very stop and start in comparison but forms a great base.  I found a pace that suited me and didn’t fall. I’m trying to teach my kids that “doing the work” pays off.

My daughter’s “game face.” And appropriated Gear Up Girl jersey. I should get used to this now. Photo: Riding Focus, Josh Nicholson

Fortunately, I can see it in my daughter in these races. She finished the race well and enjoyed herself. However, she has often remarked that many of the boys in the races are horrible. Mostly they tell her and the other girls that they don’t belong/they’re going to knock them over/pass them. She isn’t fazed by this trash talk. She is confident enough to often have a witty rejoinder but my husband has also taught her how to use her back wheel with skill.

All of us, apart from my son, had to descend this hill, make a sharp left and run up some stairs.  My daughter seemed to fly down this hill. Photo: Riding Focus, Josh Nicholson

At dinner, she told us that a boy had pushed her off her bike. The same boy cut through one of the many switchback portions of the race and was eventually disqualified. At some point before his disqualification, she caught up to him, passed him and used her back wheel to take him down. The back wheel is fixed whereas the front is not and it’s easy retribution. It also takes skill and confidence.  It’s also legal. She recounted this story to us at dinner because her ankle had started to throb. My husband gave her a piggy-back-ride to the hotel.

My kids have been in the Nihola tricycle with me many times when things have not gone to plan. We get lost. We have run out of battery power on the way. The chain has fallen off and we have had to cancel appointments. Drivers are sometimes not nice. The kids hear and see everything. I try not to curse as a result. I do my best to look after all of us and set a good example. It’s always a challenge. I don’t always get it right but I hope that by virtue of the attempt, they understand that I am doing my best.

On the way home from piano lessons to violin lessons without mishap.

My son, by virtue of being second child and having the character that he has, will continue to be competitive. He will catch up to his sister eventually. He will probably overtake her in height and strength.  Competition between them is a positive. There was a time when they were both trying to speak more French with our nanny. 

I hope that my daughter, who resembles me in character, will not suffer a crisis in confidence as often affects many teenage girls. Both of their confidence now is encouraging. It’s a fascinating challenge having “skin in the game” as parents. My husband and I find endless lessons in this life that we have chosen, all by bicycle. We hope you do too.

Happy Bicycling! (and a Happy 5th and 9th Birthday to my lovely children!)

X Sarah


  1. Woaw, Ofelia – that’s one scary game face – I certainly wouldn’t want to be messing with you…!

    Disappointing to hear that, even in those age groups, some boys clearly think it’s both normal and fine to ‘tell her and the other girls that they don’t belong/they’re going to knock them over/pass them’…!


  2. Ho boy, O has a fierce gameface! Love it! Also love your sons cap. I tried to buy one for D, but he said he did not want one (probably because I was wearing one at the time eheh)


    1. She’s a pretty fierce young lady. I’ve had to butt heads with her. My son is the charmer. Not surprising. Try again w D and the cap, especially now that we’re heading into Winter – with a capital W for Melbourne!


    2. Show him some photos of cool riders (from muddy cross riders to sunny Tour de France or Giro Italia – so many choices) with them on. You can say it is not just Dad but those who are the coolest do. Peter Sagan had then all talking when he was not shaving his legs but even the coolest of the cool riders still sports a riding cap at times.


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