And sometimes it is not about the rider either. Or more specifically not about me, as I had my socks well and truly blown off by Little Random and her cycling heroics today. My family – as befits a much put upon group herded around by one individual who is regularly as self centred as a tornado – have spent far too much time not enjoying doing not much while I do my stuff.
Examples include being abandoned in muddy fields while strangely dressed blokes ride round in circles, or suffering 50mph battering’s on remote hilltops while other men throw toy gliders into that wind, before collecting the remains in special bags.
But as I get a little older, I can not but help notice how much more grown up our own kids are on a seemingly daily basis. How long before their idea of a quality interaction with their parents is only in their capacity as personal bankers or 24 hour on-call taxi services?
They do seem remarkably well balanced considering the eccentricity of half their genes, and I cannot but feel proud of their achievements – large or small. Tomorrow sees one reading a rather fine poem to a worryingly large audience, while the other is straining kidfully to pass her first violin exam*
But it’s not really Dad’s stuff is it? And with Verbal confined to barracks until the nice man in the hospital gives her an all clear to, well, be a child again, there has been little in the way of family outings including bicycles.
Carol isn’t really bothered and – even with a superb new MTB hanging up – I feel Verbal may be edging some way along that same genealogical branch. Random however is more a chip off the old block except for her willingness to learn, stupendous progression and apparent lack of fear.
Today we packed two bikes, two camelbaks full of water and snacks, and one dumb mutt in the love-bus for some woody singletrack Dad’n’Daughter action. We’ve ridden in these woods a few times, but generally on the easier tracks and with much pushing uphill. And some falling off, getting off, getting cheesed off going the other way. This time around things were a little different.
Random rode everything put in front of her. Sometimes with a little bit of help, sometimes ignoring the trail completely and plunging into scratchy undergrowth, but all the time with a smile on her face. One of the reasons for her improvement is that she listens, and after playing back to me “Stand on the Pedals, stay off the brakes, look round corners and remember to breathe“, I just shut up and let her get on with it.
On some pretty tough trails especially riding a heavy-ish, rigid bike wearing your dad’s crash-hat** and no gloves. The latter two issues due entirely to my inability to prepare the kids for anything without Carol sweeping up behind me. Asked whether she wanted to try the easy or hard option, she constantly chose the knarly option giving her license to burst back into the house explaining how many injuries she’d sustained. Proud of them she was, that’s my girl!
We managed two hours before very tired legs and some bleeding called a halt to our fun. Probably 10k in total (about 20 for the dog who at least had the decency to look a bit knackered), 10 great sections of singletrack conquered, three quarters of the fireroad climbing done in the saddle, and huge improvements in just those two hours. Stuff she couldn’t ride three months ago, is now dispatched with a carefree “Yeah, that’s easy now“.
So today I chose to ride not with my friends ripping up buff trails in the forest, but with my offspring at not much speed and with much getting-on-and-off. And it was brilliant.
Only one problem, won’t be long before she’s better than me.
* Standing joke is we decided to buy this big (wreck of a) house specifically when both kids registered a strong interest in learning to play a noisy instrument. Still may need more sound insulation tho.
** That’s what it is. I use it for that very purpose all the time.