I have been fortunate to be able to ride my daughter to kinder in Spring Gully for the past two years. We’ve had the delight of riding along the incredible Back Creek Trail from Quarry Hill all the way to Spring Gully.

The experience of the bush – smells, bird spotting, watching the light shining on and through the trees at different times of the day, and the creek rise and fall in times of rain, marvelling at the majestic trees, stopping to talk to the ducks and climb trees, and the many greetings and conversations along the way with fellow riders and walkers – has been an incredibly rich experience.

It has also been incredibly rewarding to watch my daughter transition from being carried in my cargo bike to riding herself all the way there and home again on her pedal bike.

It became apparent to me early in 2020 that it would be a wonderful opportunity to invite my daughter’s kinder classmates to ride with us. A perfectly safe bush track from Stanley Avenue all the way to the kinder was a great place to trial a ‘ride to kinder’ event.

The kinder and classmates were keen, but COVID-19 prevented us from running our ride until very late in the year. But it was perfect weather, and well worth the wait.

We met at Stanley Avenue on a mild Tuesday morning in mid-December. The magpies warbled and groups of rosellas flew in a flurry from tree to tree. The sun was filtering through the trees providing the perfect amount of warmth and beauty.

We didn’t know how many families would come and, each time a classmate arrived, they were greeted with excitement and anticipation. We had kids riding from seven families which was fantastic.

Some parents rode; others walked. Most kinder kids rode on pedal bikes, confidently handling the track’s ebbs and flows, big grins across their faces as they pedalled one after the other.

We had younger siblings on balance bikes and walking. Even a kinder kid seated on the front of his Dad’s bike. We were a mixed bunch!

Even though the ride probably took only 10 minutes, there was something very rich about riding all together as a community and seeing the proud faces of the kids as they reached the playground just outside kinder.

We would have loved to have a brekky afterwards or gathering of some sort to finish the event but of course it wasn’t possible last year! But the kids were able to take their bikes into the kinder yard and spend time riding them around the bike track there to extend the event.

I’d love to facilitate more ride to kinder days. Not just at Spring Gully but at other kinders too. It’s a fantastic opportunity to build community and to encourage bike skills and bike safety in pre-schoolers.

The children gain such joy and confidence riding together. It’s also a great way for parents to connect with their kids – I hope it encourages families even more to spend time together this way. Covid has certainly helped get the ball rolling!

A big thank you to Bike Bendigo for supporting the event. I hope there will be many more to come.