We've finally had a thaw these last few days, which has allowed us to get the tandem bike out of the barn and back on the road. Feels wonderful to be getting fresh air; this place was frozen solid for an unbelievable number of weeks. I did set the tandem up on an indoor trainer for awhile, but it just wasn't the same as being outside.
Both of the boys went out with me yesterday, when it was sunny and fifty degrees; Big Brother stoked for nearly ten miles, and Little Brother (who would now like to be known on the blog as "Forest Puppy" --- long story) stoked for nearly seven miles. Homeschooled Farm Girl (HFG) did a 10K on Thursday, and another 11 miles today. The big news is that HFG grew quite a bit over the winter, and has now graduated to the "adult" pedals that Big Brother had been using. Her feet even grew enough to fit his cycling cleats comfortably. That means little Forest Puppy is the only kid still using the Child Stoker Kit (visible in this photo, but notice that his pedals have been removed so HFG can ride using the lower set).
HFG and I had a grand time exploring the rural roads surrounding our farm today. We especially enjoyed riding past one house, where a couple of crusty old farmers were out in the front yard burning leaves. They looked up and smiled broadly as we rode past, and we all waved at each other. "Great day for a ride!" one of them exclaimed. I think it's difficult to look at a tandem, especially with a kid on the back of it, and not smile. And speaking of which, we passed several houses over the last few days that had kids playing in the front yards. Regardless of age, each of these children has had a nearly identical reaction: a gaping stare, accompanied by an expression of wistfulness. My stoker kid typically smiles and waves, and then we disappear over the next hill. Perhaps someday they'll realize how lucky they are.
Daddy is tired, but glad to be getting back into shape. I used to be an avid cyclist, having ridden over two dozen events like this one or these when I was younger. But when the kids started arriving, I found that I just couldn't do justice to both family and cycling. I tried to do both, for much too long, and both suffered badly; finally, at the end of 1999, I hung up the cleats and rarely touched my Bianchi again. But I never lost my love for the sport, or the open road. And now that the children are older and finding they enjoy riding stoker, cycling has gone from Family Time Killer to Coveted Daddy-Kid Time.
Here's hoping that we can all rack up many many more miles this year...