“Don’t forget to bring the bikes!”
“I won’t, Dad.”
“I have an adventure planned!”
“I know,” I laughed. “We’re excited. See you tomorrow.” I put the phone down and finished packing.
Every August since my kids were young, I’ve packed up the car, said a prayer, and drove from my home outside DC to my family’s home in Ohio. The moment we arrive, my kids jump out of the car and fall into rhythm with their cousins’ vivacious beat—playing house, basketball tournaments, kicking a soccer ball across the yard—while I unload their bags. And our bikes.
My dad became an avid cyclist when I was in elementary school. He’d ride through the long winding Ohio roads, take bike trips with guys half his age where he’d log 30, 50, 80 miles day. Once he did a Century ride—100 miles started in the morning and completed in the evening.
On my tenth birthday, my parents surprised me with a 12-speed men’s frame Schwinn road bike. It was shiny cerulean blue in the front fading into silver towards the rear. This bike, always tuned up thanks to Dad, took me around the neighborhood, through unknown numbers of family rides, and it was my mode of transportation the one time I “ran away.” Two decades later, I have a black women’s frame Trek mountain bike with a baby seat attached to a frame above the rear wheel.
Ever since the grandkids started to ride on two wheels, Grandpa itched to take them out riding. And not just around the block or down the road to the park. He wanted to do the Cuyahoga Valley Rails to Trails ride with the kids. It’s a national park program (practically in our backyard) which employs freight trains to transport riders and their bikes up and down the valley and river.
The freight train arrived on the track, not ten feet from where we waited—two adults and six kids—with a horn blaring so loud, my nephew ran across the street, crouched down and covered his ears until it stopped. We handed our bikes to the crew, loaded into the coach car, and settled in for the ride, seven miles north. We’d get off and begin to ride back to where we started.
// To read the rest of the adventure, which involves whining kids, a sore rear-end, and a life lesson, click here to link to Coffee+Crumbs.
As always, thank you!