the other evening has a moment of humility and an moment of fear

the other day after work I had a moment of humility and a moment of fear

after work I looked at my watch and rolled out of the office all energize to make the mose of my commute home
the spring day was at it district best
amazing temperature for a town that is either uncomforably hot and humid or extremely wet and extremely cold for a good portion of the year
so days like this are to be appreciated

the glance at my watch had me thinking I had roughly an hour of riding before I had to meet up with the family at home
as I rolled in the thick traffic down M Street I decided my course
this route leads to many options
there are many car free options
the car free options tend to be my prefered routes

the capitol crescent and mount veron trail each sounded appealing
the canal can be a pleasure when the moment is right
then the memory of my chance meeting on the morning commute with fellow dcmtb/city bikes mountain bike team member matt
matt was headed to work after hitting the hills in rock creek park
while I was dressing my kids and walking my dogs he was hitting the hills

the hills of rock creek park would be my afternoon destination
a destination that is not far from my house so the hour work out fits in
although it only offers for a few times up and down the rolling hills
the hills are not steep and the hills are not long
but the hills are wooded and beautiful and moderately bicycle friendly

the rock creek bike path along rock creek parkway along rock creek through rock creek park took me there in a dash
as it is all not very far from downtown
once on the hills I rolled up the hills
my pace was good
spinning in the saddle
not rolling backwards
so good for me
I did the hills twice

on my second hill up and back I felt a tad smug
smug that a female in her red and white riding get up did not bridge the gap
the gap was increased
as I worked my way back up for a third up and back I recognized a body screaming down the hill
the yell was not heard
so I turned around and chased at an unimpressive speed down the winding curve

at the base of the hill I made contact with fellow dcmtb/city bikes mountain bike team member evan
evan and I made small talk
but rather than stand and chat I asked evan to turn off the power meter and take a slow one with me
we took the hill at a casual conversation pace
a little slower then I usually go

we went up and rounded back
a variation of what I usually do... but more logical in some ways and it goes up and back
rather than up and down before going back
as we rode we saw some deer and some other cyclist
once back at our original desination we spoke for a moment then realized the time
we should be riding before we headed back
so we got ready to ride
with a glance at the watch I felt like I could squeeze in one more ride

I told evan to do his thing
he told me he was going to take off
so we nodded and evan took off
I decided I would try and take off with him
in too easy a gear and riding in the saddle evan pulled away fast
so I dropped it a few gears and got out of the saddle
the distance between us was holding true
we were moving at the same pace
I did not think I could catch him
but i felt that I could pull in behind him

so we pedaled
I thought for a second... this is how long? how much time is that? how much time had passed?
I slowed my pace
I turned around
20 seconds had not passed
we had not clearned the first curve
I was ready to blow up
I let him go
I used the hill to carry my bike
pushed the pedals towards home

feeling a little pumped
not so much humiliated
just seeing more reality then I usually like to see
I took the energy from that moment and recovered from my over expendeture and hit the hill in front of my house a few times
sure it made me arrive home a few minutes later than expected
but I could not resist

as I entered the back gate the boys were getting ready to exit
guess they were all headed out after an afternoon snack
I went in to change then returned to hang with the boys as lisa walked the dogs
dean and grant were out on their bikes
grant at two doing quite well starting and stopping on his little bike with training wheels
while four year old dean was enjoying about the seventh day of his first week with the training wheels off

it is an anxious affair watching your children do certain things
watching a young boy discover his limits is a very difficult thing at that
watching them jump off obstacles that may be high
watching them ride their bikes faster than they can control

both the boys were full of smiles and an inch closer to crashing than I like
trying not to be too protective of a parent I try to give them space
only to interfer when I feel I must
only to give occasional guidance rather than excessive coaching
as I am forced to spot grant down the slide grade to the alley behind our house
my being by his side is not only to slow him down
but also to monitor for cars entering the alley
people can drive a bit too fast coming down the alley
some people have unknown business and may not expect children in our alley whidh dead ends into the woods of rock creek park

with grant at my side I hold his shirt as I run along side of him
he giggles and takes his feet off the pedals
he is accustom to pushing the tricycles up the little driveway hills and riding them down
I try to explain to him that on the bicycle you can keep your feet on the pedals
and then you can us the pedals to stop
I try to demonstrate by backpedaling the cranks with his feet still on the pedals

dean rolls up the hill getting out of the saddle to get up a few more feet before he turns around
still not fully comfortable without training wheels he allows the bike to stop pointing up hill
then walks the turnn around

with grant pedaling down the flats I watch as dean grins his way down the hill
going down the hill is not enough of a thrill
for some unknown reason he feels compelled to wiggle the handlebars back and forth
he is getting wild
I try to instruct him not to get so wild

some time passes
grant has needed a few pushes to get started from a stop
grant has switched between bike and trike a few times
there may have been a discussion about the helmet
grant never wants to wear his helmet
daddy wears his helmet
dean wears his helmet
grant wears his helmet
well... those words arenot always enough
there can be a fight some times

dean crashes
he is down the block a few garages
it was not a bad crash
he is tangled in the bike
I give him a shout
I give him a way

I get a shout and a wave back that he is okay
he is back on the bike
he is a touch kids
he works his way up and back a few times
there is some wildness
there are some near crashes

at the back gate to my house I hear the sound of the dogs coming up the wood stairs
mommy is back from her hike
I walk towards the gate
dean comes screaming down the alley towards us
he starts with the wiggling of his handlebars
turns out he is showing off

sure enough he gets wild
he gets out of control and crashes
this time is different
the speed and the direction of the crash
and how he hit
face first
a serious face plant

lisa runs over with me a few steps behind
I intercept him
not sure how
not sure why
before the tears there is some serious heavy breathing
a list of questions
as I clutch him close he tells me he wants his training wheels back on
without being too unsympathetic I try to explain that he crashed because of the wild wiggling of the handle bars and not due to not having training wheels off
we did not argue
then his very red face let out some very big tears
then some bawling

as I rush towards the house with my son in my arms
I check over his body for tender points and areas of injury
as I touch his arms and his legs
dean tells me it is his face
by this time we are inside and I am trying to get him to drink some cold water so we can rinse the blood out of his mouth
the cold water is not to his liking
too much heavy breathing and tears

there are a whole lot of questions coming from this small little four year old
I try to interpet his questions and his thoughts
so much of a child's fears are their lack of understanding that certain things will pass
experiencing something for the first time can be scary
getting hurt can be scary
dean is convinced that he lost a tooth
I had scanned his mouth
but outside when it was filled with blood
now after a little sip and spit... just like at the dentist
I take a look at his mouth
I go through his mouth tooth by tooth
dean tries to tell me where the tooth is missing
he tries to touch it
it is not missing
but it is loose
I try to explain to him that the tooth is attached and held by the gums
I try to show him my gums and then assure him that it will tighten up
I also tell him that I have experienced this same thing many times and I know that it is usually better the next day

we sit down for pizza
dean still a little shaken sits in my lap
it is vace pizza
we got a medium white pizza and a large pepperoni
pepperoni is his favorite
he is not going to eat anything
he is not sure about eating with his loose tooth
there is no arguement
he would eat if he were really hungry

that was a few days ago
since then dean has ridden his bike without training wheels
he has also ridden a neighbors tricycle and a neighbors bike with training wheels
he is four and I am very proud of him


gewilli said...

from a dad to a dad... i can empathize completely! Thanks for the glimpse!

pedalmaniac said...

Ive got a 5 and a 3 year old. i remember well the 5 year old getting his training wheels off, there were a few crashes (just before his 4th birthday). For Chirstmas this year I got him a geared bike with hand brakes. This added a whole new level of complexity to the mix -- again there were crahses, blood, pain. But he loves biking and that is what really matters.
My daughter is 3 1/2, I guess this summer we will think about the training wheels. aarrgh, again! It sure is great seeing them excel, and then feel the joys and freedom of cycling

Isabelle said...

Great story. I hope someday I learn to ride a bike. Maybe just ride in the sidecar.

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gwadzilla said...

yes, pedal maniac
the teaching a child to ride is a strange frustrating pleasure
my son who can ride a bike with training wheels battles his fears
he wants them on
yet he does not need them
he does not crash any less with the training wheels on
yet they are like a safetly blanket for him

wish he wanted to wear a life jacket like he wants training wheels
he feels like he is an olympic swimmer
I try to explain to him that he is learning to swim
he is great in the pool
not sure if that doggie paddle constitutes swimming
although i am beyond pround of his doggie paddle

Anonymous said...

eric has taken to doing a lot of tricks- he loves to skid and the other day mistimes one pretty back and smashed into a fence.

as for training wheels- now that dean knows how to balance without them I think he is safer without them. training wheels cause the bike to tip over if he turns with any speed, so I think they are less safe except when kids are first learning. I think sheldon brown favors the "never use training wheels" school of thought, but they do help with learning basic mechabnical skills on the bike.