Thursday, August 13, 2009

The End

Well, my son goes back to school on Monday. Summer is almost over. This is the end, my little friend, the end.

So yesterday was our last Wednesday ride of the summer. We went out in grand style.

Once again we started from our normal spot at the aquatic center and headed east on the bike trail, around the south side of Lake Natoma, and headed up towards Beal's point. Normally we turn around a little past Beal's when we hit the magic 10-mile mark, which occurs about a quarter mile down the dirt levee road. Yesterday, though, he wanted to keep going. "You want to ride farther on the dirt?" I asked. "Yeah, more dirt, Daddy." Music to my ears.

Up to this point he had never wanted to ride in the dirt, preferring smooth pavement. I figured he didn't feel secure sitting behind me, not being able to see, and being bounced around without much warning.

We rode on the flat, dirt levee road. When we reached the end, my stoker commanded me to push on.

At that point the road narrows a bit, becoming hilly, curvy and a bit bumpy. I could hear laughter behind me. The rougher the terrain, the more he laughed. When we reached the end, at Granite Bay, I was told again to keep going.

We hit the single track. At first my passenger was fighting the bike a bit, making it hard for me to steer. We hit a couple steep little downhills, and he thought it was the greatest thing ever. He laughed and laughed, and said "this is fun" every time we hit a sharp corner or downhill section.

After a couple miles I could feel him relax, and we found our flow, snaking through the single track as a team. He was leaning into the corners with me, and we were carving perfect arcs. It was one of the coolest experiences I have had on a bike: I was there the day my boy fell in love with mountain biking.

Even though mountain biking is fun, sometimes you have to grit your teeth and make it hurt:

As we neared the 15-mile mark, I told him it was time to turn around. Although he didn't want to, I knew by the time we reached the truck he would want off the bike.

The return trip was even more fun. Much of it is downhill, and I was thankful for that. Hauling 60 pounds behind you can get tiring. When we arrived back at the truck, I was the one who wanted off the bike.

We rode 29 miles, which was our longest ride of the summer.

While it was the end of our summer rides, hopefully it was the beginning of his love afair with the bicycle. With any luck he will discover the joy and freedom I did when I bought my first mountain bike in 1984.


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