Saturday, June 20, 2015

Something for Everyone - Riding Marquette MI and the IMBA Regional Summit

Did you know that mountain bikers have their own terms for things?  Like scabs are called “bacon,” and a “yard sale” is a crash where your parts and kit end up scattered across the trail. 

Makin' Bacon in Marquette
Mountain bikers even have our own time zone, SMBT (Standard Mountain Biker Time).  SMBT is approximately 20-45 minutes later than whatever time zone you are actually in.  So when your friend says “Let’s meet at the trail head at 10:00,” it is generally understood that he will arrive around 10:30. 

We said we'd be there at 4:00
And, as I found out this weekend in Marquette Michigan, we even have different dialects among mountain bikers around the US. 

Marquette was the host city for the IMBA Great Lakes/Upper Midwest Summit.  My friend and fellow COMBO (Central Ohio Mountain Biking Organization) board member Dean and I left early Friday from Columbus, Ohio for the summit.  We were looking forward to the opportunity to geek out with other bike nerds, learn from the IMBA presenters, and, most importantly, sample the sweet singletrack on offer at the IMBA Bronze-level ride center in Marquette.  Our friend Rick Armstrong from Gator’s Bike Park met us there. 

An ominous odometer reading on the way to Marquette.
Rick arrived before us and had already ridden some of the trails.  When we met up, Rick told us about his ride.  Using a term he had picked up from the locals, he described a certain portion of the trail as “two track”.  The first time Dean and I heard the term, we ignored it.  The second time Rick used it, we asked “what’s two track?”  Rick explained that “two track” referred to “jeep road” or broad patches of trail where two bikes can ride side by side. 

Rick uses a lifeline to "phone a friend."  Still chose the wrong answer.
“Hell with that.”  I said.  “That’s called doubletrack.”  Everybody knows that.  Except, apparently for people in the Upper Peninsula.  Well, and they call it “two track” in Florida too.   Figures. 

Sweet Michigan Two Track
This phrase makes no sense.  Everybody (including people in the UP and FL) call one-lane trails “singletrack.”  So, of course, trail that accommodates two bikes naturally is called “doubletrack.”  Otherwise, we’d all be riding on “one track.”  I mean, really.  Still, once I rode the trails, I was able to forgive the Michiganders (just not Rick).

UP One Track?
We let Rick finish his story anyway, and then we went to register for the summit.  At registration, we found that there was some local beer chilling on ice, so we poached a couple.  Turns out Marquette is a beer town with a mountain bike problem.  These particular brews were provided by Blackrocks Brewery, who is donating 10% of all sales of its delicious 51K IPA back to the trails.  How awesome is that?  Plus, they had cans of their Honey Lav and North Third Stout available.  Something for everyone (but all for me).  Hey Blackrocks, want to expand into Columbus Ohio?

After registration, we decided to go ride while we still had daylight.  We headed out to the Marquette South Trails, which we could reach from our hotel just by taking a short ride along the lake on the bike path.  We were staying at the Hampton Inn, which had awesome views and great staff.  They were super accommodating to us, providing a bike storage room and a bike wash station.  And the staff didn’t bat an eye as we came in dirty and stinky from a ride.  They even gave me newspaper to stuff in my wet shoes and a garbage bag in which to stow my dirty duds.

The view from Hampton's patio.  That's the real "ore dock" on the left.
The bike path leading to the trails provided some amazing views of the lake.  Lake Superior is so cold and clear and big.  The vastness shrinks my own small and cluttered worries, pushing them out just like sleep or hunger does.  That’s why I come.

I lament our own Great Lake, Erie, which is fucked.  We have this giant, amazing body of water so near.  And I am so drawn to it, but I can’t go in.  Took my daughter camping on the lake shore last year, and we couldn’t swim at all.  Between the toxic algae and the e-coli, it’s damned poisonous.  I know it’s partly because Lake Erie is at the bottom of the lake chain.  Whereas Lake Superior is fed by mountain snows, Erie is fed by the other lakes.  And it’s warmer.  But really, overuse and abuse, mainly by farmers, has fouled it with phosphorous runoff from fertilizers and manure.  And our own shit.  Literally.  Maybe there’s still hope, but it won’t be coming quickly. 
The green stuff is algae.   How are you not freaked out?
By the way, did you know that Michigan was given the Upper Peninsula as part of the settlement for losing Toledo to Ohio in the Ohio-Michigan War?  Wonder if it's too late to trade back . . .

Anyway, if you headed the other direction, the bike path would take you into town, past several great bars and restaurants.  My favorite was the Ore Dock.  More on that later.  After a spin out on the paved path, we reached the East Access point for the Marquette South Trails.

Dean and I were itching to stretch our legs after the ten-hour drive, and we went fast out of the gate.  Rick, who was already tired from riding earlier in the day, dropped off after a couple miles to go find some more Blackrocks IPA.  Dean and I raced each other out the rocky Blue loop, climbing out on Up a Creek, Secret, Split Tree and Gurly, and Flowing back down Doctors and Forget Me Not. 

We mostly rode the blue trails on the right.
Then we tackled the killer climb on the gravel Mt. Marquette Road, to check out Mount Marquette overlook. 

Downhill again on singletrack, as it started getting dark, just in time to miss most of the food at the evening’s reception.  Guess the schedule wasn’t written in SMBT.  At least there was still beer. 
In the morning, we looked longingly out the window at the terrain in the distance, knowing that it would be a while before we could ride again.  It was conference time. 
Dean and Rick wanted to drive to the workshops location (because they’re woosies).  The conference was at Northern Michigan University, a fitting site, because it felt like we were back in school. 

Chris Kehmeier drops science .  Photo by Griff Wigley
I demonstrate proper duckface for the class.  Photo by Griff Wigley.

Michael Brunet board member with the Noquemanon Trails Network.  Photo by Griff Wigley

Rick plays on his tablet while pretending to take notes.  Photo by Griff Wigley

The conference was only a couple miles away, and I like seeing a city by bike, so I opted to ride.  But, just as I was hopping on my bike, I saw Dean walk out with Gary Fisher.  Apparently, his Trek colleagues were nowhere to be found (maybe a little too much IPA?) and so, Dean had offered him a ride to the conference.  And I had already taken my bike off Dean’s rack.  Dammit.
When we got to the NMU Dome, there was coffee, Danish, and welcoming remarks from IMBA’s Executive Director Mike Van Able, who shared his vision for the chapter program and some recent successes.  As good as Mike is at giving a speech (never trust a guy who starts with “I’ll be brief”), I’m certain that his real gift is the ability to get things done.  After his welcome, we were off to our workshops.
There was a little bit of education for everyone.  For instance, while Dean attended a session on the bells and whistles of our member database system, I attended a seminar on building amazing bike skills parks.  Both sessions have direct impact on COMBO’s upcoming projects.  We also learned about effective fundraising, partnering with industry, working with land managers, and strategic planning.  Dean, Rick, and I each picked seminars that lit our own lamps. 
Me, Gary, and Mike.  Besties.  For reals.
But you don’t really care about that, do you?  You’d rather just ride.  Yeah, me too.  And Dean too.  And Rick too.  But that’s what being a COMBO board member is all about.  We sit in plastic chairs through hours of PowerPoint presentations.  We soak it all in, so we can turn around and provide better trails for you (and us). 
Because really, without trails, where would you ride?
Dean’s a skilled media and marketing guy, so those sessions on how to pull analytics from our database were right up his alley.  Rick is fighting like hell to provide more trails for kids.  He wants to learn what makes land managers tick.  And me, I have projects in the hopper.  I need to know how to turn the materials into a finished product.  The summit offered something for each of us.

There was even one of these.  (Columbus friends will get the reference)

Perhaps more importantly, the summit offered us the opportunity to connect with old friends and make some new ones.  We talked with Mike Ryba from CAMBA who was a key player in Ohio Mountain Biking history and who continues to fight the good fight in Cuyahoga County.  His 14-year fight for access at Cuyahoga River Park is finally paying dividends.
We also hung out with Paul Arlinghaus, who is my personal role model, and who has accomplished so much for mountain bikers in the state of Indiana that he was recently recognized with the 2015 Outstanding Trail Advocate from the Indiana Greenways Foundation.  And really, who in Columbus doesn’t love the trails in Brown County Indiana? 

Me, Paul, and Mike.  Also Besties.  For reals. 

 It was also an opportunity to deepen COMBO’s friendships in IMBA.  I love telling Mike Van Able our story, and I love how genuinely excited he is to hear it.  We talked about taking our kids mountain biking.  And friends like Tammy Mebane, Matt Andrews, Sallie Hoefer, and Chris Kehmeier, whose passion and knowledge are a tremendous resource for local chapters like COMBO.
Michelle Barker helps us strategize fundraising
Oh, and did I forget to mention that we got to hang with Gary Fisher?  Awesome.  He spoke to us and inspired all of us.  We are keeping communities happy, healthy, and smart.  As he explained, what we’re doing is “righteous, righteous, righteous.”  Right on. 
Also, at some point, we had the realization that Gary Fisher, at this point in his career, is getting a salary just to show up and be Gary Fisher.  How righteous is that? 
We left the conference in the late afternoon, knowing that there were hours of daylight left in this Northern latitude and ready to go hit some trails.
Today we were going to do a group ride of some trails of the local IMBA chapter, RAMBA, but, as it happens, that was not to be.  First, within the first 100 yard of trail, Dean ripped a sidewall on his rear tire.  It was not repairable and he didn’t bring a spare tire.  So, we headed back to the car.  Fortunately, Dean had brought a spare bike, but by the time he got his pedals changed, the rest of the group was long gone.  We rode a while trying to find the path they were on, but ultimately abandoned it.  Wish I could have spent more time with the RAMBA folks, but they were awesome hosts and have made some truly amazing trails!
We decided to try a bike shop for Dean’s tire, but the shop was closed when we got there.  In fairness, the Quick Stop Bike Shop guys had spent a lot of time helping with the summit.  And I guess the whole town was out riding with Gary Fisher.  As we sat down for dinner, I was getting edgy, watching the daylight slip away.
Finally, we headed back out to the Benson Downhill & Freeride area on the South Trails. 
We stopped for a minute to watch Gary Fisher open a new jump line.  He did the ribbon cutting with a backhoe, while showered by Blackrocks beer.  That’s how you open a trail, properly baptized with beer by the father of mountain biking!
But we rode on.  And, wouldn’t you know it, after one run on the downhill at Down Dogger, it started drizzling.  The mosquitoes were coming thick and heavy too.  You couldn’t stop too long or you’d get swarmed.  Poor Dean’s arms looked like he had been carrying an angry porcupine. 
His legs didn't look much better
Thing is, bats eat mosquitoes.  But in this part of North America, bats are in serious trouble.  They are dying off in mass numbers thanks to a fungus called white nose syndrome.  In 2012, the disease was estimated to kill between 5.7 million and 6.7 million bats, with 90% of populations wiped out when the fungus hits a location.  Bad news—it’s headed to Ohio. 
We stayed out as long as we could in the rain and the twilight, until we decided to call it a night.  Then, it was back to the hotel for a shower and a run to the Ore Dock for our evening mixer, just in time to miss all the food.  Damn.  It’s like these IMBA folks are not running on SMBT.  Damned Midwesterners and their punctuality.
The Ore Dock was great.  Excellent local beers and we got to party with Gary Fisher.  For a man of 65 years, he sure knows how to get down!
Party at the Ore Dock!  Helmets on for safety.  Photo by Griff Wigley
In the morning, we were struck with another case of SMBT syndrome.  We were supposed to meet our Great Lakes cohorts for breakfast at 8:00, but we all overslept and didn’t even get up until 8:30.  (Sorry Tammy!)  I guess we were each depending on the other to set an alarm.

So, we gulped down our breakfasts for a few extra trail miles before heading out on the long drive home.  By now, we had all settled into our own riding styles and were picking our own routes for our last day.  Dean, a converted roadie, was looking for hills to climb.  A former personal trainer, Dean is all about the athleticism and grace that comes with momentum and flow.  He wanted to charge up some hills and then pour back down on smooth singletrack. 

Rick, on the other hand, was looking to bomb some downhill.  If you know Rick, this won’t surprise you.  It fits his personality.  You gotta be fearless and confident to enjoy downhilling, and Rick has both qualities in spades. 

So, he shuttled up the Benson grade on the back of a pickup truck to bomb back down. 
Me, I set out early.  I was about one thing: some long cross country miles.  I lit out earlier than the others and just rode as much as I could in the time we had left.  I followed some cross country tails along a river gorge (“Gorgeous”) along the top of a long buried pipeline (“Pipe Dreams”), over rocks and roots, and past a beautiful waterfall.  The last minutes of my day were spend coasting down a long strip of flow trail back to my hotel room.  Nothing but smiles! 


This trail system really does offer something for everyone.  No wonder it was awarded the IMBA Bronze-level designation.  I can’t wait to get back and ride some more; we only scratched the surface of Marquette.  Ideally, I’d spend a week in the Upper Peninsula, and include a trip to Copper Harbor as well.


Somehow, Dean, Rick and I all arrived back at the hotel at the same time.  We had told the nice lady at the hotel counter that we’d be checking out at 1:00.  She forgot to ask whether that was SMBT.  So, when we actually showed up, dirty and swaty at the hotel at 1:00 (right on SMBT time), to pack shower, and leave, we found that our key cards didn’t work.  But the hotel staff was totally cool, and let us get back in the room to shower and gather our belongings.  Looking at the state of the bathtub when we finished, I fished all the cash I had out of my wallet to leave the cleaning lady for a tip.
Double rainbow on the way home. Dean cried a little.
On the ride home, Dean and I shared what we had learned.  We couldn’t wait to get back to Columbus and share with the other board members.  So many good ideas for our organization!  When I finally got home, my wife was in bed already.  But it’s cool.  She knew I meant 10:00 SMBT.
Be brave, and do it in your own way.




Friday, June 5, 2015

The Other Side of Awesome – The CAT5’s in the Cradle and a View of the Mohican 100 from the Rear

Like a classic sitcom, I have two stories to tell you.  There is an “A” story and a “B” story.  The B story is a secondary story that runs at the same time as the primary A story.  Both stories contain a common theme – me doing difficult things, poorly.  But which is the A story?  You decide.
The "A" Story

The "B" Story

You may have read my last post, wherein I chronicled my recent flurry of bike frolicking.  Last weekend, I took on my toughest adventure yet.  The Mohican 100.
I wasn't last, but I was close.
I didn’t really intend to race the Mohican 100 this year.  I have only raced a handful of times, and never over this kind of mileage and terrain.  True, I ride a lot, and I do long rides all the time.  But this was different.  Still, a week before the race, I changed my mind, signed up, and paid the $125 entry fee.  Little did I anticipate the crack to come.

Almost that bad.  Photo from
I talked to my family before I registered.  I was curious how they felt about it.  See, I sometimes feel guilty for leaving for bike adventures (but only sometimes).  And when I’m not off riding a bike, I inflict my hobby on everyone around me. I make my kids ride with me all the time.  And even our vacations tend to be bike-centric. 

For instance, my oldest son and I started riding together 5 years ago, when he was 11, for GOBA 2010.  I had already been riding bikes for a few years and I thought it would be fun to drop him on the back of a tandem and take the weeklong trip through Ohio. 

And really, who looking at my backside in lycra for a week straight?

We didn’t have many interests in common, but as it happens, we both really like bikes.  So we have done a tour together every year since, eventually rolling in my younger son, then my wife Natali, then my youngest daughter.  As one kid got big enough to ride his own bike, the next kid could be deposited on the back of the tandem.  

I asked Cedric how he felt about my many bike trips away from home.  Despite my angst about being away from the house, his response was elegantly simple.  He said: “It’s normal that parents are gone regularly.”  (My wife, Natali, travels regularly for business too).  The revealing thing about this statement was that, for him, an absent parent is “normal.”  That’s just how it is—he doesn’t have a different frame of reference upon which to make a normative judgment.  This didn’t assuage my guilt, but at least it buys me some time—he probably won’t be mad at me until he’s an adult, in therapy.  He also added that my “obsession with bikes” is “a fairly normal parent hobby.”  God bless him.

I reflected on the bike tours Cedric and I (and later the whole family) have completed, as I prepared for the Mohican 100.  Without all those miles in my legs, I probably wouldn’t be cut out for such a race. 
On race day, Michael Whaley picked me up at 4:30 am for the drive.  Along the way, we chatted about our goals for the race.  While sitting in the car drinking coffee, 63 miles didn’t seem all that intimidating.  And for some of my friends, it’s not – they will race 100 miles, or just go flat out fast over the 63.  But neither Michael or I had done it before.  We talked about finishing times from last year and the MPH required in the woods/on the road to finish in good time.  I hoped for a time under eight hours.  Michael thought this would be reasonable.  He finished in seven and a half.  My day was much longer.
Michael is on my team – Breakaway Quickdirt. 
We have only had a few races so far this season, but I feel great about the team already.  A really fun bunch of guys.  And, there’s a lot of talent on the team that I can learn from, if they can slow down long enough (Nahum and Max – we need to go ride).
Nahum and James enjoy some post-race shade.  Photo via
My son Calvin is on the team too.  That’s because of me.  He didn’t set out to be a cyclist, but as soon as he was old enough, I had him pedaling.  He rides to school with his brother too.
Before the growth spurts
Because Calvin showed some interest in mountain biking, I started taking him with me more and more.  And, this season, since I have started racing, I bring him to races too.
He seems to be enjoying it.  And my teammate Joe Worboy has a son (Mikey), who’s Calvin’s age.  So, we can hang out and ride together.  I asked Calvin what stands out the most about biking and he said “the mountain bike wrecks.”  Like father, like son.  Guess he inherited his skills from me.
He thinks my “excessive bike stuff” is a mid-life crisis.  When I asked what he thought about my time away from home, he said he doesn’t really think about me on the weekends, so it’s fine.  And he’s actually happy that I’m out of the house, because then he gets to do what he wants on Saturday mornings.  Last Saturday, he had plenty of time.  It took me over 10 hours to complete the race.
It’s hard to tell the story of my Mohican 100, because there’s a lot of layers.  I did the “metric” 100, or, about 63 miles.  I was hoping I could finish pretty quickly – my goal was eight hours.  This was based on my best guess looking at the times from 2014. 
When we arrived at the race, I picked up my race number, happy to see that my streak of awesome numbers was continuing.
The number of the beast
The neighbor of the beast
The father of the beast
I started the race strong, although the high humidity and 80 degrees made it hard to breathe.  I was keeping up a good pace on the road out of Loudenville.  It’s hard to gauge your position among 600 other racers, but I felt good and was passing more people than passed me. 

Once we entered the singletrack though, things started getting dicey.  The pack ahead of me was pretty big, so, at almost every obstacle, someone stopped to walk it, causing momentum loss behind them, meaning I had to walk too.  I was burning matches and time walking over things I would normally ride. 

Around mile 5 or so, we had a hard right turn, downhill on some wet grass.  I didn’t see the gravel underneath and wiped out.
Noticing a pattern?
After that, I was in a pack of riders again.  I rode with them for a while, but had to stop to adjust my saddle.  Wasn’t enough, so a few miles later I stopped again.  About this time, my friend Ken caught up with me.  We were maybe at mile 15 or so.  I was glad to see Ken, although I didn’t know how far we’d ride together.  But, as I led, he kept up. 

By the time we reached the first aid station, it was clear that we were going to finish the ride together.  Looking at the time, we were still on track for a sub-eight hour day.  Sweet!  We stuffed some food in our mouths, chugged some liquids and we were off again. 
Trail snacks saved my life
The next section kicked my ass.  It started around the picnic tables at mile 15 of Mohican State Park trail, if memory serves, and included the killer climb after the covered bridge.  But this climb was nothing compared to the long hike-a-bike up the gas line and horse trail that followed.  I think I burned more calories on these walks than in miles of riding, and they actually caused my first couple of bonks.  By the time we hit aid station two, I was already contemplating quitting.

Between aid station 2 and 3 were all sort of a blur for me.  We were still hoping for a eight hour day, but that was slipping away. 
Thankfully, the next few miles included road, so I got a breather.  It sprinkled a little and the rain cooled us down, but Ken was starting to cramp up.    And I was starting to need to eat all the time to avoid fading.  We managed to climb the big road hills, and enter Mohican Wilderness.  This is a rocky trail, made all the more challenging by how slick everything was.  We walked plenty here.  Somewhere in this section, I voiced my thought to Ken that maybe I would quit.  He wouldn’t let me.  “Nope,” he said.  “We’re going to finish.  Quitting is forever.”    I was grateful for Ken. 
Bryan made fun of me for taking selfies during a race.  I told him I was better with Facebook than bike racing.
My wife sent support too.  At each aid station, there would be a new text from her.  “Good luck today!” “Keep going.”   “You can do it!!!”

My wife doesn’t mind my time away from home.  She says it keeps me happy and healthy, plus it’s better than tattooing, gambling or substance abuse – previous hobbies of mine.  And she loves going on bike vacations with the family.  But she could do without all of the “bike stuff” around the house.  “Oh look, you took the last floor space in the basement.”  And she thinks my gear is goofy.  “Why are you wearing elastic sleeves [arm warmers].  Why not just wear a shirt?”  Her only worry is when I’m out and the phone rings – she always wonders whether it’s the hospital. 
But she has started riding mountain bikes too.  She gets it.  And she knew how much I was suffering.

At aid station 3, I was feeling destroyed, but I knew I had to continue.  We were now hoping for a sub-10 hour time.  I guzzled some coke and ate a cocktail of Sports Legs, Hammer Endurolyte, and Motrin. 

Fortunately, I ran into my friend Terry, and also Lori and Chris, who rolled in behind us.  I know all three of these people to be good riders, so it gave me hope that I wasn’t alone in my suffering. 

Lori, Chris, and some creepy uncle
From aid station 4 to 5, we rode with two guys who had been in our sights for a lot of the race, Michael and Mike.  Mike had dropped out of the race last year and was determined to finish.  Michael was super friendly and cheerful and lifted my mood for a while.  Ken was cramping bad and his stomach was upset from the Endurolite or the sugary exercise fuel we had been eating all day.

Michael, Mike, Me, and Ken
We rolled into aid 5 rather cheerfully, but dallied there way too long.  Mike and Michael rolled in and out, as did Lori and Chris and about ten other riders.  When I started moving again, it hurt. 

This last stretch was only supposed to be 6 miles, but the guy at the aid station said it was 8 or 9, which broke my heart.  Still, it was the finish and was through the Mohican State Park again, so it would be groomed and ridable. 

I fell down twice within the first mile.  My concentration was slipping because I was mentally exhausted.  First I went off the path and hit a tree.  Then, I fell on a bridge – luckily not off of it.  Michael happened to witness this, because Mike had stopped to take a leak.  “You got this.”  He said.  “You have ridden a bike a thousand times.  Just ride!”

Time to summon this guy
He was right. So, I pulled it together.  Then came the final climb of the day.  Ordinarily, this climb is manageable.  But just then, I couldn’t pedal up.  Had to walk.  About halfway up, I dropped the bike and sat down on a log.  I had cracked. 
“I can’t do it, Ken.  I am done.” 
“No.  We’re almost there.” 
“Just go on without me.” 
“Stand up.  We’ll walk if we have to, but keep moving forward.” 
I could see he wasn’t going to leave me.  And the ride out would be the same either way.  “OK.”

So we walked a while.  Thankfully, soon there was a downhill section.  And about then, Terry rode up behind us.  “You want a pass?”  “No! Keep riding!” 

Terry and James at the finish
The three of us coasted together for a while, silently.  Then came the sign.  I saw it first.  It said: “Two Miles to Finish.”  A wave of joy rolled over me and a shot of adrenaline.  I can ride two miles.  I can always ride two miles.  
Those were two sweet miles.  We rode flat out, burning up what little we had left.

At the finish line Ken and I crossed together.  My team was waiting for me with cameras and fist-bumps.  What a sight!
After half a BBQ chicken, slaw, rolls and two beers to wash it all down, I was myself again.  So, what did I earn for my troubles?  A pint glass.
The tale of the tape for my race is revealing.  I finished 174 out of 181, with something like 30 DNFs.  My time was 10:24.  The winner finished in 4:50. 

Also, my Garmin had been accidentally set to automatically shut off if my speed dropped below 3 mph, which yielded some interesting data.  My Garmin only recorded 53 miles, which I covered in 6:20.  That means that, in the other four hours, my speed was under 3 mph.  In those four hours, I only covered 10 miles and my rest stops.  The takeaway: the rest stops and hike-a-bike cost me a lot of time (duh!)

Other lessons for next year:
Ride more, walk less.
Put spikes in my shoes for the hike-a-bike (loose and sloppy terrain).
Have a better food plan and a feed bag.
Make sure the Garmin works right.
Stop being fat.
Stop being slow.

Easy, right?

Michael and I chatted a lot on the car ride home.  He had to get back to his family, and me too.

At home, first to greet me was my daughter, with a hug.  She said “we missed you,” and wanted to hear all about my ride.  She cringed at the wrecks and her eyes got wide as I talked about the day.  She got out the bandaids and the antibiotic for my cuts.  I never have to wonder where she stands. 

 She’s riding now too. 

But it’s a wonder she is willing to go near a bike.  A few years ago, we were on the tandem when we got caught in a sudden, chilly thunderstorm.  My daughter was terrified and we had to hide out under a bridge for what seemed like an eternity.  Once the rain let up and we left, it started raining again almost immediately, and we came home soaked and cold.  Plus, she's had plenty of bumps, scrapes, and spills along the way.  Still, my daughter rides bikes despite all of that.  She does it for me mostly, just because it’s what I do. 

I asked her how she felt about the time I spend away on bike trips. She said she misses me when I’m gone.


Be brave, and do it with your family and friends.