I’ve been all worried about my own balance, but we’ve achieved some very important OTHER feats of balance around here:
Rory and Wyatt are both officially bike riders.
This is big news in a family where biking counts. The VT 50 for Rob (50 miles of mountain biking). 50 in the Prouty for me and Sam, once with him on a tagalong and this year, I think, with him on his own wheels. Last year he did 35. Mountain bike camp for Sam. Road bikes, mountain bikes, in-between bikes–we even have the double tagalong for two to ride:
I hate pulling the double tagalong, actually, but it’s better than not riding.
And I always want to ride.
Biking is maybe even stupid important in our lives. To me, and to Rob, biking is what proves that we can have four kids and still do everything we want to do, even though we patently can’t. This leads us to do extraordinarily stupid things, as when we returned from China on, I think, a Wednesday and rode 25 miles in the Prouty (which is a ride in support of cancer with a variety of routes ranging from 200 miles down to 19) on Saturday–with Rory and Wyatt in the baby bike trailer (we didn’t have the tagalong yet, and they would have been too small anyway).
We did this because we are stupid, and because we are stubborn, and because we never miss the Prouty, never, and everyone said we couldn’t LEAVE Rory, not so soon after we got home, so we handed her a bag of Doritos, buckled her in next to Wyatt and left them to battle it out. One or the other of them was screaming for about 19 miles. There are no pictures of that. Because it was stupid. Did I mention stupid?
We were even stupider (I know, more stupid, but if you’re the stupid one, I think stupid is a fine word) two months later when, after acquiring the double tagalong, we implemented it in a 19 mile “Tour de Taste” for Rob’s birthday. Rory rode solo on the single tagalong while Rob pulled the double with Lily and Wyatt, and sheâ€”still exhausted on a daily basis just from the stress of dealing with us, and English, and life in generalâ€”was good for about fifteen, because she is a really good sport. Then she fell asleep, on the tagalong, over and over again, with us waking her up and hollering and pouring water on her and just in generally being the worst possible human beings because we somehow felt we had to complete our circle instead of, duh, having Rob ride ahead and come back with the car.
We thought she’d stay awake after the water.
She fell off.
We don’t have pictures of that, but we do have this lovely one of what Sam looked like after Rory fell off and so he rode ahead trying to catch Rob and get him to turn around and help meâ€”and then he fell off.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt like a worse mother. I’ve tried to moderate my idea of what I think will be big fun for the whole family with what’s really possible for the whole family now, but I don’t always succeed.
And yet we still bike. And Rory and Wyatt are determined to keep up. Rory rode to victory first (hardly surprising, given her amazing balance) and Wyatt could not let her beat him. And once they took off, they kept going.
Even with all the disasters, all the kids clearly think of themselves as once and future cyclists. They caress the bikes in the bike store with passion. Turn the pages of Bicycling Magazine. Beg for more and longer rides.
Even after you fall off and get back on (although we did NOT make Rory or Sam get back on after their double crashes that September), biking is fun. Maybe it’s the falling off, surviving and getting back on to bike another day that makes it fun. The picture with all of us, above, is us doing that same ride the kids fell off during the year before, and not one of us, not once, suggested not going. For last year’s Prouty, it rained so hard a friend’s kid wore swim gogglesâ€”and all four of us who’d planned to ride slogged along for 35 damp miles.
There’s something about a machine you power with your own legs and effort, something free. And there’s something about doing it together. And there’s something about just keeping doing it, no matter what, about having fun and keeping going under any and all conditions. (Although I am trying to bring a little balance to that one.) I hope that’s the lesson the kids take away from all this two (and three) wheeled craziness: that no matter what happens, you can nearly almost always get up and ride.