Plea of a cyclist's mother: please don't let my son's next ride be his last

By Debbie Cosier

Guest column in Sydney Morning Herald

May 15 & 18, 2014

(Reprinted by Fairfax Media in Canberra Times, Brisbane Times, viral tweets)


It is Sunday night and my 17-year-old son Jamie is on his bike in the lounge room, riding on the rollers. A widescreen TV shows reruns of the Tour de France. Riders come towards him, flash past, two-wheeled terrestrials weaving through blocks of gold, lavender and stone.


He plans to have the ragged breath of a Froome, Cavendish or Quintana at his cheek one day, to feel the pure engine heat of other riders along the length of his body, to be part of the living organism of a peloton, stretching and snapping, morphing into a single cell.


In the two years that Jamie has been riding, he has had six crashes: 32,000-plus kilometres, inexperience, riding in the wet, mechanicals. Last Boxing Day he spent four hours in a country hospital under observation for suspected concussion. Another time he landed on his fingertips and chin after his chain came off and the downwards thrust of his foot met no resistance (there may still be road fragments in his chin that we didn't clean out properly). Each time he hits the road he rips off old scars and his faithful body replaces them with bigger purple ones.


My biggest fear is that the next crash will be serious. Not just months of dressings on hips and elbows. Not just broken collarbone, fractured jaw.


Just last Sunday, on Mother's Day, Mudgee grandmother and winemaker Jill Bryant was killed in a collision with a ute while on a ride. Her accident brings the death toll of riders in NSW to eight so far this year. Last year, 14 cyclists were killed.


Every time Jamie walks out the door to train or race I breathe a prayer that this isn't the last time I'll say goodbye. I send out good vibes to all frustrated drivers in the hope that they resist overtaking when it is not safe – so they are not forced to choose my son's soft body on his flimsy piece of carbon over a head-on collision with another vehicle.


I am all too aware that cycling deaths in Australia are on the increase, while at the same time they are significantly decreasing in the rest of the developed world. I am all too aware of the fury that sometimes flares in response to the flash of bright Lycra, the legacy of some fool on two wheels who nearly caused an accident ... But this is my son. You do not get exclusive use of the road because you have an engine under your bonnet, the same way you do not get to break road rules because you are on a bike.


Well before sunrise on cold winter mornings, I hear Jamie riding up the gravel driveway outside my bedroom window. I have this app called Find My Friends that I use to periodically check his whereabouts. I am all too aware that this app will not make any difference if the worst is to happen. I am all too aware that my son's life rests in the hands of strangers.

Read SMH article here.

dear stress: let's break up
(teaching our kids how to deal with stress)

By Debbie Cosier

(Education blog)


Moving to a new school or class, fighting with friends, taking tests and exams, worrying about how you measure up in your class and social group, and wondering if certain teachers like you, all contribute to a child’s overall stress levels.

Read more here.


By Debbie Cosier

(June, 2017, school website, education blog)

With bitcoin a reality and driverless cars just around the corner, we’re facing an unpredictable future jobs landscape. 


In the career stakes, formal education is starting to look a bit like a lottery. Which skills, vocations and career pathways will still exist by the time our current crop of Preps graduate from university and vocational courses? What can education institutions teach students that will prepare them for this unknown future?

Read more here.

redesign  your brain 

By Debbie Cosier

(February 2016, school website, education blog)

There was once a school of thought that believed intelligence is fixed and unchangeable. That the IQ you are born with is the IQ you get. Not much you can do about it, full stop. However, there were certain inconsistencies with this theory.

Read more here.

redesign a growth mindset 

By Debbie Cosier

(February 2016, school website, education blog)

Stanford University Psychologist Carol Dweck studied what spurs people on, despite setbacks, to become successful. She discovered what she calls a growth mindset. People with this attitude believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Brains and talent are just the starting point. Her book Mindset goes into this in more detail.

Read more here.

kokoda kids redefine yolo

By Debbie Cosier

(2015, Kokoda Youth Foundation)

“You only live once” (YOLO) is the mantra most often repeated by young Australians just prior to doing something that involves great risk. Ironically, it’s the fear of death and the excitement of defying it that propels many teens to perform life-threatening acts like train or car surfing: do this thing now because you only get one chance to live.

Read more here

Jim stillman, kokoda veteran & legend

By Debbie Cosier

(June 2015, mini-biography for Kokoda Youth Foundation)

It was at Isurava that Jim remembers one of the most horrifying experiences in his time on the Kokoda Track in 1942.  "The sun had just set and it was a bit hard to see. Next thing I knew, a Japanese soldier jumped into the trench beside me...."

Read more here.



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