There are just 15 months between my brother and I. I realised that we were always close when I recently scanned all our old family photo albums. So many of the pictures were of he and I together.
I think that is one of the reasons I wanted to have children with a fairly small age difference. I just assumed that they would be close because they were close in age.
My brother and I have always shared a love of cycling. Although I am adamant that I rode without stabilisers first, he was the cyclist first. I rode my bike for transport, he rode his for enjoyment.
As we got older, our lives grew apart but cycling was something that kept us connected. He moved to another country, got married and had children. For a number of years we met up in Majorca for a training camp. We didn’t ride in the same groups, but we had meals and beers together.
My brother is also responsible for some of the more absurd things I have found myself doing on a bike. If my brother called to ask if I wanted to enter some event with him, I just entered. Without question. Also without really finding out many details about what I was entering.
Brother: “I’m doing a challenge ride in Sweden called Vatternrundan, fancy joining me?”.
Me: “Sounds good, sign me up”.
The detail I never asked about: joining over 15 000 other cyclists for a 300km (that’s 186 miles) ride.
Brother: “I’m entering the Etape du Tour, fancy joining me?”
Me: “Sounds good, sign me up”.
The detail I never asked about: joining 7500 other cyclists on a 187km (116 mile) stage of the Tour de France, through the Alps.
I would say that my brother and I are still close although we don’t see each other or even communicate that much any more. We live in different countries now. We each have our own children and a million other distractions keeping us busy.
We also have the constant ‘elephant in the room’ of our parents divorce. Suffice to say it was messy and it drove a wedge into my family which can never be removed.
But we still have cycling. We both still ride our bikes. We both define ourselves partly through cycling. We both cycle to keep ourselves sane when our children are driving us insane. My brother will always be a better cyclist than me, but that really doesn’t matter.
I look at my two children now and I can see how close they are. Most of my photos are of the two of them together. My eldest doesn’t remember a time when the youngest wasn’t in his life. Of course they argue on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. But their relationship is a great source of joy to me. Now that the youngest is speaking well, the two of them have the most incredible flights of fancy together and I love to eavesdrop on them playing.
Having a sibling is a unique relationship and it’s one which we take for granted. I hope that when my children are older they keep that connection. I hope that they find something positive to bind them together. That they are able to challenge and support each other through their lives.
Obviously, it would be nice if that something was cycling…