Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's not as easy as riding a bike

One of my favorite fringe benefits of having children is the unpredictability of an average day—especially if that day falls on the weekend.

My wife decided we should embark on a family outing on Sunday. The four of us have very few common denominators, but one of them is our ability to ride bicycles. Since we all possess varying skill levels, my role is that of the "just-call-me-Lance-because-that's-how-awesome-I-look-in-logo-covered-spandex" alpha bike dog. The rest of the family falls in somewhere within the amateur ranks.

Any type of day trip with children, regardless of their ages, requires extensive contingency planning. I knew we shouldn't have gotten rid of the diaper bag, because by the time we'd packed sandwiches, goldfish, protein bars, gallons of water, sunscreen and various other essentials, we nearly had to exclude one of the kids in order to haul all of the supplies.

We drove south from Seattle for about forty minutes, arriving at the Interurban bike trail, a long, flat, paved path, which bisects the Green River Valley of south King County, Washington. This area of western Washington is formerly lush farmland once populated by strawberries, lettuce, daffodils and pumpkins, but which is currently occupied by beautiful, boxy warehouses. Nothing screams nature's majesty like a row of concrete loading docks.

We parked at a trailhead in Auburn and unloaded four bikes. Zoe, my fourteen-year-old, was accompanied by her "bestie," Maddy. The girls surveyed our surroundings and Zoe glanced over at me, a concerned look betraying her teenage-induced glaziness.

"Dad, what if people think Maddy and I are from Auburn? That would be awkward."

Then I did something I do frequently—I asked her a question when I really should have ignored her. "What do you mean?"

"Well, they'll all be looking at us and think we'll be new kids at the school on Monday."

"First of all," I rebutted, "this may come as a surprise, but no one's looking at you." I wish Galileo were still around to debunk the teenage myth that the universe orbits around a teen's ever-so-slowly developing gray matter. "And secondly, your mom and I are both from here, so you're an honorary citizen of Auburn. Your paperwork would be all in order." That was an attempt at a joke.

Blank stare. "Well, at least my butt looks good in these shorts." She'd moved on long ago.

The two older girls hopped on their bikes and rode off ahead of Lauryn, Terri and me. Once the three of us were underway, we stopped roughly every hundred yards so Lauryn could re-hydrate. After about a mile, we'd gone through our entire water supply, and our condition seemed quite dire to my ten-year-old. "Dad, I'm so thirsty. It's like I'm in the desert and I haven't had a drink in days."

"Lauryn, you just finished your water ten seconds ago."

"I know, but that water just teased me."

Luckily, we didn't need a divining rod to detect some liquid refreshment about one hundred yards up the path at a teriyaki mini-mart. I rode ahead, proud that I was fulfilling my role as provider. While Lauryn sat and replenished her water stores, I squirreled around on my awesome mountain bike to kill some time. As I circled back, I turned a bit too sharply and went down—hard, on both wrists. I skinned both knees. It hurt a lot. It seems like when you're a kid, this happens all the time, and you recover in seconds, but when someone my age takes a spill, the injury lingers forever. I'm planning on this.

We eventually established a rhythm and rode about seven miles. When we returned to our vehicle, the teenagers were reclining in the truck bed, sunning themselves. "Maddy, we're going to be so tan at school tomorrow." Zoe glowed with delight about her newfound bronze potential. "Do you think people will think we went to California for the weekend?"

I love that girl. And so does everyone else in the universe.

No comments :

Post a Comment