Saturday, April 11, 2015

Rambling thoughts that may or may not tie together.

Do you ever think about when you first learned how to ride a bike?  Do you think about that feeling you got when you first were able to ride on two wheels, no parent running behind you holding you up or no training wheels saving your wobbling bike?  It was magic!  Balancing yourself on something 2" wide (or less) yet propelling yourself forward at a pace that was faster than running and could take you much further!  It was independence, it was freedom, it was maturity, it was getting rad, it was amazing.  

Do you ever get that feeling anymore when you ride?  Why not?  Too busy?  Too stressed?  The thoughts of your life, death and taxes weighing on you?  Man, you gotta find that place again.  It gives you perspective, it calms you, it makes everything OK.  I found that feeling again today.  A short ride through some side streets, past a cemetery (if riding past a cemetery doesn't put shit into perspective for you, just about nothing will) and I was on singletrack.  And even though I could see the city on one side, there was nothing in front of me other than that brown ribbon of dirt snaking its way through the trees up the side of the mountain.  That smell of the forest, the pine trees, the dirt, the organic material decaying, all mix together and speak to that primal spot in my soul.  Couple that with the sound of my bike tires scraping rocks, trying to find some traction, crunching the gravel on the trail, the whir of gears, the grating sound of brakes being applied and pretty soon, while I could see the city below me, it meant nothing to me.  Not that it wouldn't ever mean anything to me, but it didn't right then and there.  I was in the moment, I felt the magic of being able to balance, pedal, shift, and brake all while trying to keep myself from plummeting off the edge of a ravine.  It was that same feeling as I had when I first learned how to ride a bike.  I don't always find that feeling when I'm riding my bike, but I find it way more often than not.
Riding in the Land of the Lost...

Which brings me to the bummer part of this story.  After almost 3 hours of winding my way all over Skyline and HLMP here in Rapid City, I was pedaling home on the bike path, awash in that feeling of being tired from the physical exertion but alive with all the endorphins my body could muster, when I crossed paths with a mental kick to the balls.

There it was, pulled over on the side of the bike path, a family, the mom walking a dog, the dad, crouched down near his son, who was on a bike with training wheels.  As I got closer, I could tell the dad was being a total, ever-loving prick to his kid, who was sitting there with his head down his eyes full of tears.  By the looks of the situation, the kid was doing something that didn't go over well with the dad and he was being "told" all about it.  I said, "Hello" in a firm voice, hoping that the dad would realize what he was doing and stop it as I sped by.  I contemplated stopping and saying something, but I quickly realized that I don't think it would have helped the situation.

Look man, I get it.  Sometimes as parents we don't stop and think before we say shit to our kids.  And sometimes our kids do shit that gets under, WAY under our skin.  And sometimes we say shit to our kids over and over and over again and they don't listen.  And sometimes we need to give our kids a push to get them motivated and try to reach their potential or even just to try new things.  But at NO time is it OK to berate your child and make them feel like idiots.  Guess what parent on the bike path?
Did you know your child is CONSTANTLY trying to impress you with everything they do?  They want you to be proud of them, they want you to tell them they're doing the right thing, they're doing well, they make you proud.  Stop just for a minute and think back to your childhood and how you'd feel in that situation if you were in your child's shoes and it was your dad yelling at you.

Bike riding is always supposed to be fun no matter how old you are, but it is supposed to be especially fun for a small child.  Don't make them grow up to be one of those pricks driving their giant diesel pickups that are rollin' coal that swerve towards and throw shit at cyclists because they are bitter about an experience they had when they were a kid.  Give them the confidence they need to grow up and be a (almost) 44 year old that loves that magical feeling of riding a bike almost 40 years after the first time they pushed a pedal down on their own.

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