My two children learnt to ride their bicycles in Hong Kong. It was no mean feat because their training ground was the uneven stretch of sun-baked concrete outside the wall of their grandparents' village in the New Territories. The obstacles they had to manoeuvre around included laundry poles, flower pots containing turned-out Lunar New Year kumquat trees, wrinkled grannies sunning themselves, the dried ginger/dried plum/dried squid stall, and, in winter, the baked potato vendor. Lining the circuit were rusted carcasses of bicycles whose owners seemingly went off in search of London in the 1950s and never came back. An occasional stray dog added to the excitement. So my children have had to learn to ride well because the village pack they ride with suffer no sissies. But there's one thing that differentiates my children from their village peers: my boys wear helmets. It was easy. I told them the other kids didn't wear helmets because they had no idea how cool helmets were. I tried to find helmets that actually looked cool, but the world of children's helmet manufacturing hasn't caught on to this parenting dilemma yet. My boys' helmets look like Easter eggs on their noggins as they go tearing around the neighbourhood, so it was only a matter of time before the oldest said: 'How come I have to wear this stupid helmet? None of the other kids do.' When I went into my 'there are many different temperatures to cool' speech, it got the helmet back on, but not happily, and I'm sure not for long. Someone suggested recently that it might be time to take them on a real cycling test - the holy grail of Hong Kong cycling: the bike paths of Sha Tin. No thanks. I'd rather take my chances with the village dogs. I've been on those paths a few times as a solo rider and have never seen such a rag-tag group of the worst kind of beginners - beginners who think they're not beginners because they've driven Formula One race cars on Xbox, have survived countless virtual crashes, and have never once had to use a brake. On my last trip to the Sha Tin Crash-A-Rama, I had to pull off the path with a disconnected chain, and when I bent over to fix it, my backside was mistaken for a bike rack. Ouch. The young lady who did it apologised, made impact, screamed, then braked - in that order. No, my children will continue to cut their teeth on the free-wheeling washboard village circuit. Helmeted, of course.