Anna Glowinski - Building Bonds By Bike

Anna Glowinski - Building Bonds By Bike

Building Bonds By Bike - A story of a new family

It’s the new year of 2022, and we have taken in my husband's son from Chile. After a turbulent start in life, he had a rucksack, a vicious temper and a host of other baggage we had to deal with.

“In his first two days at school, he’d hit a classmate every 7 minutes, on average” our six-year-old’s teacher told us. We were in a private meeting, sitting at miniature desks, with Papi, a teacher and occupational therapist. I was tense and worried. Although the vibe relaxed once we all started giggling about the moment our lad took on the whole class at once, whirling like a devil and using his jacket to whack as many kids as possible.

It was such a funny image and, while we take violence seriously, it’s good to find humor in times like this. If you can’t laugh about things, you’ll never be able to transfer your enjoyment of life to others. And our aim was to make him happy. He arrived in the new year of 2022 from Chile after a turbulent start in life. He had a rucksack, a vicious temper and a host of other baggage that we could mostly see in the form of an obese body and an inability to walk more than 500 meters without developing a limp. It broke my heart to discover he couldn’t read at all. He couldn’t use a fork or even enjoy a kids playground.

He did, however, have an extensive knowledge of nature that stumped me repeatedly and he showed an incredibly high talent for art. My husband worked full-time while I worked freelance, which meant that his daily wellbeing fell to me – I switched careers and took on the role of a full-time mum. I won’t lie, it was an extremely dark time for me. It was winter in a foreign country where I didn’t know even one other mum. The social care system took months to kick in and allow our lad to enter school. I was lonely and, at times, out of my depth when I found myself sitting on the sofa reading a book while the boy screamed and threw objects around for the fifth time that day because I had said no to something.

Not once did I lose my temper. I don’t know how, but I kept calm in the face of the storm and made sure every tantrum was followed up with a cuddle. In the past, suppressing negative emotions had given me health issues – and I could feel myself slipping. At night, my heart would pound. I´d cry and my muscles would randomly twitch. I knew that this couldn’t continue. For either of us. I missed cycling. I needed some time out on my bike and to see my mates. But our lad took up every ounce of my mental and physical energy.

We tried getting him on a bicycle, but he was too terrified to ride it. We had a children’s bike from a neighbor with training wheels. As a cycling instructor, I´ve always been against training wheels because they don’t help someone learn how to balance. Ultimately, I found that it’s always easier to preach than to adapt to your own reality. In our situation, a bicycle with training wheels was all we had and it’s all that our boy wanted to ride. Just next to the house, in a park we taught him how to press his brakes and pedal. I don’t know what had caused him so much fear at first. And I don’t know what banished that fear, but once we convinced him to give it a go, all he wanted to do was go faster. 

One sunny day, we took his little bike to the beach front and removed his training wheels. We had to hold him up to start off but as soon as we said it was a RACE, he just went for it. It was awesome to see him careering along, wobbling this way and that, nearly bashing into people in his path – who all moved out of the way with a heartwarming smile brought on by seeing a little boy learning to cycle.

The power of cycling was two-fold. For him, it has given him confidence, physical strength and joy. I reckon he’ll love riding for a long time to come and I’m so pleased to see him pedaling away and singing songs without a care in the world. It has also given us a chance to bond. He has to take instructions in order to be able to get to where he wants to go. We often take him along quiet roads down to the sea front, passing a variety of obstacles, such as steps, gravel and steep hills. He also knows we’re there for him. We praise him when he tries hard and cuddle him when he falls.\

For some reason, whenever he fell over, his first reaction would be to scream “STOP LAUGHING AT ME!”. I don't know what's happened for him to feel that way, but it made me so sad. Inevitably, people will fall off their bikes. This gives me a chance to reassure him that nobody is laughing at him. I can tell him “I am here” until he calms down and jumps back on his bike, ready to go again. It really has given us a chance to teach him that he can trust us and we’re there for him when he needs us. We’ve even gotten to a stage where we can ACTUALLY laugh at him, himself included. Because let’s face it, as long as you´re safe and protected, crashes are pretty funny.

Custom Jersey

In cooperation with Milremo, he was able to design his own jersey from scratch. He got creative on a template of a t-shirt and then the designers of Milremo transformed this into an actual jersey design. He looks so cool in his own limited-edition jersey!


Anna Glowinski is a passionate mountain bike rider who used to live in London and worked as a freelance TV presenter, social media host, events commentator and pretty much any other job that involved living fast and staying in the world of MTB.