Saturday, April 16, 2005

Ride with a kid...

It’s a beautiful day here in northeast Oklahoma! The temperature is hovering at 80F and there’s a light south wind. I successfully procrastinated long enough to avoid cleaning out the garage, and slipped out the door for a ride with my son.

Jordan is still feeling puny from getting sick about 2 weeks ago. He has a lingering, ‘croupy’ kind of cough that he’s had since he was a baby. He was a month premature and one of his lungs collapsed. We’ve fought off asthma and made more than a few late-night trips to the emergency room when his breathing was labored. Fortunately, at fourteen years old, he seems to have outgrown that. It’s a relief. But whenever he gets a cold, the croupy cough comes back.

So he was lagging behind on today’s ride. We didn’t go far – maybe about 10 miles at most – and he was complaining about riding into the wind when we started. It was a very, very easy ride. I was on the Pennine, and it was set up for last week’s TT. When I was climbing slowly, it tended to be a little difficult to control at low speed while I looked back over my shoulder.

We stopped to be ‘bridge peepers’ at about the halfway point. The term came from one of my friends back in Pennsylvania. His office window overlooked a very nice trout stream that crossed under a bridge nearby. For weeks before the beginning of trout season, the bridge peepers would stop and peer into the water looking for fish. So Jordan and I were bridge peepers today, but we were looking for bass. The water here is too warm for trout. Too bad. Trout taste better.

Coming back into town, we were riding side-by-side when a car came up to overtake us. Jordan rode the right hand fog line, then veered off the road into a driveway and onto the grass verge. Meanwhile, I continued in a straight line. “What are you doing?” I asked. “Don’t think you’re being courteous to drivers by going off the road. You just increase your chances for a fall. Besides, riding way over on the right almost invites drivers to attempt passing when there isn’t really enough room.”

He thought about this for a while, and then blew through a stop sign in a neighborhood.

“Did you see that sign?” I asked.

“Yeah, but by then it was too late”, he replied.

“Yep, they’re hard to see since they’re so big and red and all. Do you want to drive a car someday?”

Jordan knew better than to come back with some wise-guy retort. He was quiet for a couple of blocks. Then he asked, “How do you avoid the cars?”

“A cyclist is supposed to follow the same rules of the road as any motorist”, I said. “That means everyone acts pretty much the same way and it makes traffic predictable. Imagine what would happen if people just decided that driving on the right side of the road wasn’t necessary. It would be chaos and the accidents would be everywhere!”

By then we were riding up the hill to the house. He lagged behind most of the way. Suddenly, I heard the sound of tires accelerating on pavement. He sprinted by me and got to the house first, thus ‘winning’ today’s ride. But there was something else going on during this ride. I was impressed with his silences and his questions. They show there really is something in his brain other than thoughts of teenage girls and video games.


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