January Weekend Adventures...

all... the weekend
the work-less weekend

this Saturday past brought some unseasonably warm weather
there had been some talk about what the boys wanted to do
I liked that the boys had suggestions and wants
so often the boys have that apathetic "I don't care"
or worse yet
all they want to do is something electronic;
iPad; iPod Touch, Wii, TV whatever

but no...

the boys were excited to get to use their new bows and arrows that they got for Christmas
living in the city had me thinking that this was not such a good "backyard activity"
so... our first use of the bows and arrows would have to be at an archery range
amazingly enough!
there are a number of archer ranges in the area
nothing immediately close... but several just a short drive away

so... we penciled that in
on top of that... my older son Dean had yet to ride his NEW cyclocross bike 
there had been a few "ups and back" on the sidewalk out front
but no "real ride"
so I had Dean arrange things with a friend from school who is on the cross country team and has a road bike

Saturday morning came and I tried to fit it all in

the boys each went to their morning Tae Kwon Do classes while I walked the dogs
then when Dean and Grant returned from TKD I already had lunch on the table
nothing fancy... frozen pizza and sliced fruit
Garret, the friend from Dean's school, arrived with his bike before Dean was back from his martial arts class
I hustled around making sure we had helmets and gear, gave the bikes a quick glance for air in the tires and lube on the chain
then we rolled out

Rock Creek Park closes off a section of Beach Drive on weekends
we are not far from that point
so we went down as a group
single file down Park Road... on the street with car traffic... fingers crossed... sign of the cross... donation to my favorite charity... good Karma... we rode with car traffic for a few blocks then across Beach Drive... then onto the bike path for a quarter mile before getting onto the closed section of Beach Drive

the boys were instructed to be SAFE AND SMART
watch for people ahead... be aware of faster passing cyclists
stay to the right... give an audible warning when passing walkers, runners, or slower cyclists
all this more than likely fell on deaf ears

I told Dean and Garret that they could ride ahead
that they should ride to the STOP LIGHT at East West Highway and then turn around
when they intersected with Grant and myself on the way back
we would all loop back together
so that we could then go to the archery range

Grant went out fast and hard at a pace
in the classic younger brother style Grant wanted to not only keep up
Grant wanted to prove himself
Grant broke away from the peleton
which put me into chase mode

Grant was off the front
while Garret and Dean were just warming up

I drew Grant back... telling him to drop his pace... 
well... dropping his pace broke his spirit
the boys went by on their lighter bikes with their thinner tires
Grant did nothing to try and keep pace with them

my effort to keep the flame from burning too brightly left things at nothing more than a faint flicker
I knew he could not maintain that pace
but making him slow took the fun out of the ride for him
at times it is tough to guide their behavior

my duty was then to troubleshoot the grumpy younger brother
he was tired... he was thirsty... he wanted to stop
I told he we could stop... but not here... not now
I selected a spot... begrudgingly he obliged

we would rest and refuel a little bit ahead

when we got to the decided resting point... Grant was feeling better
the grumpy mood was gone and he was motivated
Grant did not want to stop... so we did not stop
we pushed forward and further
I was not sure if we would intersect with the boys turned around or my goal of taking a break at the Stop Sign at the top of the little hill

it was an unseasonably warm day... balmy
there were all sorts of people out on their bikes
we even saw my brother Marc in the DCMTB black and red

young Grant muscled up the hill without complaints
I had my single speed cross bike on the dirt along side the road and was getting tired so I glanced to my side to see if it was clear to return to the road
Grant was right there in my shadow
we finished the short climb together

at the top Grant and I pulled to the side 
I gave Grant a granola bar and a water bottle filled with Gatorade and went forward to see what had happened to the boys

there was some parental anxiety
what had happened to them?
had one of them crashed?
flat tire? mechanical?
had they gone forward and further than the said "stop light?"

I scanned the cyclists ahead for the two boys
oncoming cyclists came within view
not sure what color t-shirts they were wearing I put my attention on smaller riders
nothing looked like two sixth graders on road bikes

then as the Stop Light at East West Highway came within sight I saw the boys off on the side of the road by the Meadowbrook fields where Dean played soccer as a wee one
they were waiting
they had confused the instructions
rather than turning around 
they stopped and waited

a quick set of hellos... a little how was your ride...
then... helmets on... mount up... lets ride
we need to head back or else we will not have time for archery

the day and its tentative schedule was a little behind
Lisa had plans to take the boys ice skating in Georgetown at 5 PM
I could already see that we were cutting it close
it is hard to "do it all"
but we would try

it was not a particularly long ride
the boys knocked out the return ride at a good pace
I watched as young Dean tried to match the pace of his friend Garret
wrong gear choices often left him off the back
there was some cat and mouse

clearly Garret was working to be in the lead
just as Dean was fighting to finish first

we looped back and arrived home through the alley
with the bikes in the back yard I had the boys all drink some water and have a piece of fruit

then we got in the car and headed to Lake Needwood

I had never been there... so there was some GOOGLE MAPS and some creative driving
it was not a long drive... but it was not exactly next door

we arrived not sure what to expect

the archery range was a number of targets set up at various angles so that missed shots would no likely hit other people in the range

it was a lot less linear than I expected
it was also more crowded than I expected
well... it was not crowded...
but it was filled to capacity
all four targets were being used

it was an interesting scene
a woman in a long dress with a long bow... perhaps training for the Zombie Apocalypse
a couple with two small children and some very high tech compound bows... the mother's bow being pink
and then some father son groups... with camo and various bow combinations
recurves... kiddie compound... and even cross bows

we waited for a turn 
then ended up sharing the space with the family with the small children too small to shoot
they were nice and far better skilled than ourselves
after all... it was our first time and our equipment is far closer to toy than hunting tool

it is a potentially stressful situation
not sure of the kids understanding of the danger
I tried not to be too heavy on the instruction
but I did what I could to guide them to be safe

no one retrieves an arrow until all bows are down
all arrows need to be shot... and all bows need to be down before retrieving arrows
no one retrieves arrows until I give the word
and other safety instructions

then there was the task of retrieving the arrows
be cautious not to step on the arrows
there is a right way to pull the arrow from the target
etc... etc.. etc...

the three boys were good... no one was dangerous, foolish, or unsafe
yet I was anxious...
the control of the users on their first attempt was close to sloppy
safe... but sloppy

we were able to get a little archery in
then I noticed the time
it was 4:30... Lisa wanted us back by 4:30
I told her we would not make it back by 4:30

more anxiety...
I would be late
Lisa has little patience for my being late
even though our cars passed on the road headed out to the archery range... she should have realized that we were behind schedule

I texted her to let her know we were behind schedule... the text included the above shot of the boys with their bows
when I arrived home she was pretty much waiting by the door
not factoring in the passing of the two cars on the way out
never seeing the text message

the boys entered the house and exited the house as if we had a revolving door
I gathered skates and helmets and sent them on their way
as much as I may have wanted to join the family for a skate session
I was spent... two mini adventures had me whipped

I was whipped

the evening unfolded uneventfully...
the boys had pizza at the skating rink
I at some stuff from the fridge
when everyone got home I made a fire in the backyard and Dean climbed the wall while Grant bounced around on his pogo stick

Sunday came with one plan and one plan only...
okay... two plans
HOMEWORK and Climbing Wall!

the boys have been wanting to make climbing more part of their routine
so... this winter I have decided not to put them in indoor soccer
but to focus on other activities
climbing being one of those activities

so... SPORT ROCK in Alexandria
similar to the archery range it is not convenient
not far... not close
definitely not convenient

without traffic it was a 30 minute drive

the boys "bouldered"
we did not do any top rope climbing
the notion of renting more gear
or paying for more instruction seemed unneccessary
we will make that happen on future visits
but the bouldering seemed like enough

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