A Catch Up With Our Backyard Skills Winner

28 January 2021

7-year old ‘Backyard Skills’ winner travels 595 miles on new Frog Bike

Back in April 2020, Frog Bikes ran an Instagram competition for the best backyard skills course. A very worthy winner, 7-year-old Matthew, won a Frog Bike of his choice. His dad, Jim, got in touch to update us about Matthew’s progress, his ever-growing love for cycling and how the prize has been fully appreciated; exploring a massive 595 miles on his new Frog Bike in just 3 months!

Here’s the story, in Jims’ words…

Unfortunately, I have to confess that at the start I was a lot more excited about the prize than my son. Matthew already had a bike which suited and fitted him fine, and he didn't really see the point in having another one. We chose the Frog 67 bike and awaited delivery. Excitement rose up to measurable levels when he discovered that this bike would have gears, and therefore give him a better chance of going faster than me, or at least, going a lot faster than before.

May 2020 - Prize arrival day!

The bike arrived on 29th May and sat in its box in the hall for a short while - maybe an hour or two, before we got round to opening it. It may look like the box was more fun than the bike, but this didn't last long. I assembled the pedals and turned the handlebars - so now it was game on!

It was a warm sunny day, so we headed up to the park to try it out. We went up and down the path, a few times, to get used to the different handlebars and riding position, but soon changed gears too and had gained more confidence.

June 2020 - Introducing Morning Rides

My little Matthew has a lot of energy. An awful lot. So once schools had closed, my wife and I devised a plan. I would take him out every morning for a ride before homeschool, which should hopefully take the edge off his energy.

This started off with a couple of miles on his old bike, and then rose to 5 or 6 miles, taking advantage of the canals, cycle path, and quieter roads with a lockdown in force.

However, come June, he could manage a lot more, and the Frog Bike being the favoured one (gears, faster, easier), this took on the role of his morning exercise almost immediately. Distances rose to 8-10 miles most days, exploring many parks, canal towpaths and greenways around South Birmingham. And, now I actually had to work hard to keep up with him.

Throughout June we covered a whopping 142 miles total distance, on his new Frog Bike (In May we had been 110 miles on his old bike), so it was a very good start.

July 2020 - Exploring Solihull

We went on a lot more daily rides the following month, but on 19th July we set off on a mighty adventure into the countryside to see The Obelisk to Lord Archer near Hockley Heath, Solihull.

We visited Umberslade Baptist Church and Farmer Teds Shed, a vending machine in a farmyard selling milk. Total distance was 32.6 miles; plenty of hills, and a great day out.

The following weekend was more manageable, covering 20 miles. With ice creams for sustenance. Throughout July we travelled 193 miles total distance mostly on his new Frog Bike. Building up!

August 2020 - Lincolnshire Adventures

August, and no school, so no regular morning rides. However we did go on holiday to Lincolnshire and we took the bikes with us, hoping for quiet country lanes and good weather. The first day there and the weather was nice, so we travelled 26 miles exploring local lanes. Two days later with the weather still glorious, and a longer one; we explored 36.8 miles of the countryside around Caister accompanied by a stop for ice cream and then back home.

Later in the week, we cycled 42.6 miles to Louth, around the area, and back again with a hilly start and end to the ride. That was a big day but we ate lots of cake, drank lots of water, didn't push too hard, and made it back.

On Saturday, we travelled to Lincoln along the route of the old railway and the Water Rail Way, covering 44 miles, with more cake, fun and sculptures on the side of the route. One more ride of 24 miles finished the holiday, and we headed home with a lot of miles, confidence and road skill (and ice cream and cake) under our belts.

We ended the month with a trip up and down the Monsal Train on a glorious but busy August Bank Holiday. Not even 20 miles - a mere casual jaunt, but a great excuse for more cake and ice cream.

There's a trend here, isn't there? What's the point in cycling if you don't enjoy guilt-free calories?

Throughout August we enjoyed exploring 260 miles. For a 7-year-old!! Proud Dad moment!

September 2020 - Back to school

September and school starts. Unwilling to leave his new Frog Bike outside school, we reverted to the old bike for weekday action and the Frog Bike for weekends. Matthew continues to ride almost daily, we've found some good days and good excuses for trying out all the cake suppliers within a 15-mile radius. And we've conquered a few hills along the way too.

In December the local cycling club put on some academy sessions covering Cyclo-cross skills, which means that his bike is now using the knobbly tires. And has got very muddy. (But it gets cleaned, of course).

So what is the plan for next year?

Certainly, his first 50-mile ride is a target, maybe even his first metric century and possibly a 4-day jaunt over to Wales to see where our drinking water comes from. Given what he has accomplished so far, this is looking well within his capacity and should be a fantastic adventure and great fun. And of course, a great excuse for more cake and ice cream!

So if you are wondering if the prize got any use, I think that you will agree that the answer is an emphatic yes - Matthew is loving it!

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