Lisa was so nervous Saturday morning. It was her first "organized" bike ride, and I can still remember the doubts those kind of milestones engender. How do I register? Do I have the right gear? Am I in good enough shape? What if I get a flat? Poor girl couldn't even finish her breakfast.
She paced around for the better part of an hour, as my Dad and I tried to keep up with the questions and allay the fear. With some reluctance, I headed out with Dad (we were riding a longer distance and wanted to coordinate our finish times), leaving my Lisa to sweat it out. She'd be riding with friends, but the waiting would have to be done alone.
We hit the start about 8am, and gol'durn it was chilly... just north of 30-degrees. Dad's friend Mona met us there. She's training for tri this summer, and an eventual Ironman. I once told him I thought that with enough training I could be a decent triathlete. To which he deadpanned, "Nope. Hahns can't swim. You'll sink like a rock."
Another dream crushed.
It was tough to get warmed up, but a couple big hills took care of that. Soon, we were enjoying one of the most beautiful mornings I can remember seeing from the seat of a bicycle. The fog was hanging low in the Arlington valleys, dancing through the trees and pulling apart like cotton to reveal green farms and weathered barns. Big, snow-covered peaks revealed themselves through the gaps in lesser hills.
You might appreciate a photograph or two. Yeah, sorry 'bout that.
Somewhere around midway, maybe 25 miles in, the sun was high enough in the sky to give some warmth. We stopped, shedded a layer, and I tried calling Lisa a couple times. I knew she was ok... my girl's purdy tough. But still, I worry. No answer. *gulp*
The next leg was 15 miles on the Centennial Trail, one of Washington's great rail-trails. It was here I discovered the rumors of my Dad's decline have been greatly exaggerated. As if there was ever a question :) The old man took great joy in repeatedly sprinting away from me like I was standing still. Usually I make a decent cat to his mouse, but on this day he seemed driven by some greater purpose.
To put it another way, he kicked my butt.
We rolled into the finish and immediately started prepping for the reward phase. You know... beers. Beers are the carrots we dangle in front of each other when the legs start complaining. I was so excited when my phone rang not 10 minutes later. Lisa had finished, too! So proud.
We met the girls at the (not really) stunning White Horse Tavern in (not at all) majestic downtown Arlington. A couple beers and a round of cheap tequila later, and the (exaggerated) stories of suffering and triumph on the road were flowing.
For me, this was not just another day on the bike. Given my dad's recent health diagnoses, every pedal stroke seemed to carry new significance. Hope, even. And with Lisa riding now, too... the idea that we can share all these great memories as a family is encouraging indeed.