Once there is a tiny additional human occupying your spare room, opportunities to do the things which used to be the things that you did to relax and enjoy yourself become a bit thinner on the ground.
I have been tremendously lucky; Mrs L has been extremely accommodating of my need to go out and play a stupid game where ten grown adults throw a ball through a hoop for forty minutes. Basketball generally takes place during times when Cam would (and, thankfully, is) usually sleep, so I've never felt like I'm leaving Mrs L to deal with the baby while I go out and enjoy myself.
The same can not be said for my other pre-baby hobby: cycling.
It is fair to say that I have missed cycling. Time spent on two wheels since Cam arrived has been minimal. Which is fine, obviously. I love the time I spend with Cam and I wouldn't change it for anything.
Unless I could combine cycling and Cam. I don't mean I want to create a cyborg bicycle child. I just want a way to get out on the bike without having to leave the family behind when I do.
Which is why, pretty much as soon as he was able to hold his head up, I started thinking about bike seats for Cam. There's not an enormous amount of information out there about cycling with a baby, but there is some. I looked at www.cyclesprog.co.uk and www.sustrans.org.uk. Most importantly, I got some first hand information and recommendations from Cathy Bussey's blog. All of which led me to thinking that Cam's first birthday would be a good time to start seriously considering cycling with him.
Cathy had some good things to say about a Dutch baby seat called the Yepp Mini. So, I bought one. Here it is mounted on my 1994 Kona Kilauea:
Fitting it was very simple, a five minute job which required only a couple of allen keys (Yepp even include one in the box, although it is made of metal which is about as durable as a mild cheddar). The mount goes between the stem and the headset if you have a "traditional" threaded headset.
If you have a threadless headset, you'll be needing an additional adaptor before you can fit the seat. This, to me, seems a bit backwards. Most bikes now come with a threadless headset, it would probably be more sensible to include the adaptor as standard. I'm not complaining though, since my ancient Kona has the old style headset.
Once it was fitted, I looked at the bike and thought "there's no room left for me". Luckily, this is a bit of an optical illusion (apparently I don't occupy as much space as I thought). Once on the bike I was close enough to Cam to feel like I was giving him a cuddle, without him being in my way, or me being in his. My knees do brush the back of the seat a bit, but a bit of saddle adjustment will hopefully sort that out.
The first few moments of riding feel a bit weird; all of your baby's weight, plus that of the seat, is on the bit of the bike you use to steer. You know how it feels if you put a carrier bag with some heavy shopping in on the end of your handlebars? It's a lesser version of that. Once I'd been riding for five minutes I didn't even notice it.
You do lose some steering lock, and I'll probably add some padding to either my bike's frame or the metal bars on the seat, to stop any risk of dents in the top tube. It's not a big issue though, and you're probably not mounting a child's seat with a view to riding extreme terrain. My mother in law has told me in no uncertain terms that I'm not to do any stunts with Cam on board. No wheelies then...
Okay, that's the factual stuff over with. I would recommend the seat. The seat is good. Moving on...
Cam seemed to enjoy his first ever bike ride, we only went for a local ride, but he got to see the world from a different point of view (it's nice and open compared to his buggy) and didn't cry or scream once.
I came back with a massive smile on my face and a feeling that we have opened a door to all sorts of potential family fun. Getting out of the house with a baby can be a bit of a chore. Everything takes AGES with a little person in tow. Buggies are very short range instruments, and starting the car to drive a mile seems incredibly wasteful to me.
A bike seat occupies a lovely middle ground, it offers much of the freedom a car does, but without the running costs. It also means I will have more chances to do a thing I enjoy, and involve my baby in it as well.
Erm, it might read like one, but this isn't a sponsored post. I just really like cycling and I'm really glad I can now do some with Cam on board. If Yepp want to give me some free stuff, I'd gladly take it, but they haven't up until now...