Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Purple Manitous and Riding the Rivet

I have refrained from turning this blog into a one dimensional and ongoing diatribe about the one activity I enjoy more than almost any other. I am a cyclist. One of those whackos folks see out there in tight clothes and ugly helmets. Traffic blocking, trail riding oddball whose free time is spent in the saddle whenever possible. The guy who shows up on Monday sporting a new wound and is not only proud of it, but will gladly give you the blow by blow. The friend whose converstaion is liberally sprinkled with terms like, Gnarly, Stoked, Singletrack, and Riding the Rivet. I am mildly fanatic, dubiously talented, but enthusiastic and dedicated.

I re-discovered the bicycle in 1984 after a hiatus of 15 years. Reliving that feeling from my youth of first independence and exploration. My fun depending on on my own strengths and weaknesses and not someone else's. Since 1984 I have been more than an avid enthusiast. Bicycles came to consume my life and have peaked with the bike shop I have owned for the last 7 years. Bicycles became a vehicle through which I once again knew joy from pure exercise. Cycling cleanses the body and most important, my mind. Bicycles became more than a fun and healthy activity, cycling has become a way of life.

And while I would like to give myself all the credit for this, I cannot. The timing of my re-birth roughly coincided with the birth of my daughter. Lis took to bikes like a frog to water. She kept me interested those few times I seemed less enthused. My little girl probably gave me some extra years with her laughter as she rode her first solo ride. And she continues to boost my spirits through the regular rides we share. And If I am lucky, I will get to enjoy riding with my kid for the rest of my life.

I started hauling Lis in a Burley Trailer behind my Peugeot "Canyon Express" mountain bike when she was maybe 3. For several years we put many miles on that trailer. I did not keep track, but I am sure it was several thousand. Spending week long vacations exploring Acadia and surrounding locales. Numerous runs to the lake to cool off on a hot summer days. Screaming down a hill over 40 and I turn around and she yells, "Faster Daddy. faster!". I hauled her everywhere. Those early memories are something I will hold onto forever.

My darling little girl is now 22 years old. For 19 of those years we have shared a mutual love of cycling. The struggle to get her off the training wheels. That first mountain bike and the purple Manitous I put on it. Her first experience with SPD pedals and I ran over her when she crashed in front of me. She still bears a good scar from that one. The first wheel she ever built and her first custom build. Off road touring in the real backwoods of Maine. A lifetime of experiences burned into our brains and revisited regularly with fondness.

We still ride together. I do believe we are each other's favorite riding companion. I know for a fact she is mine. And even though she kicks my butt now, I can still keep her honest. This activity we love has had a dramatic effect on how our relationship has turned out. As a father, I have been one lucky SOB.

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