As time goes by a lot of my childhood, and longtime, friends are now pregnant or raising newborns. More than one of them reached out to me for advice, or for words of encouragement, in the last month. I guess they think that since I have nine years of parenthood on them, that I know something. Truth-of-the-matter is… I don’t. I’m am still growing and dealing just as they are. The only thing I do well is sacrificing myself for Kiddo. That’s the only valuable piece of advice I can offer.
Mind you I think all of my friends are outstanding people. It took me a long time to differentiate between friends and acquaintances. Anyone of my ‘friends’ I fully trust to be outstanding parents. I trust them. If they weren’t my friends, I wouldn’t even consider expressing this, but I digress…
Eventually, this sacrifice was bound to pay off. I finally had my first experience of total reward with Kiddo. Her playing Soccer and getting to coach was nice, but hardly compared to this past weekend.
Most of you know how important Mondamin and Green Cove are to me and my family. Three generations have spent our time as campers and counselors there. Not only are they excellent places to learn self-reliance and life-skills, you learn great ways to experience the outdoors. I rode my first mountain bike there in 1991 and never stopped. Returning and teaching kids to mountain bike as a counselor was a great joy in my life. Though none of those experiences prepared me for what was bound to happen.
Back in February of this year Kiddo and I headed on down to our LBS (Local Bike Shop,) Hampton Trail Bike shop to pick her up a ‘real’ mountain bike. Now this was not Kiddo’s first bike, but it was the first time she was serious about it. She had trikes in the past. She never really spent much time on them, and I never had a proper place, or opportunity to instruct her.
It was tough going at the start, but I am proud of her. She really stuck to it right away and tried really hard. Which was really nice for Daddy. I mean I could have slacked and bought her a junker from some box store, but we went to our LBS and paid quadruple for the real deal. Fortunately LBS’s all over the country are the bomb and take care of their customers with pricing and service. [Side note: Support your LBS and join your local IMBA affiliated club. You have to pay to play and only with everyone's support can we protect the sport of everyone... including all the Kiddos to come. #soapbox]
Over the next few months, we rode more-and-more. Kiddo started out like all good campers… CAT1. She passed all her tests: nomenclature, downhill position, obstacles and the camp ride. From there we started trying to do longer-and-longer rides. Eventually, Abby worked her way up to six mile out-and-back rides at our local park. She was unofficially promoted to CAT2. She was ready for real single track trails just like her Daddy. Time for her Back Forty Overnight. I figured the annual NTMBA camping trip was the perfect place to recreate that experience out of camp.
I am very proud of Kiddo. She worked really hard. The first ride was like most first trial rides. A lot of nervousness at first and the expected fall. She brushed herself off and got right back into it.
I don’t know if you can tell or not, but I got choked up interviewing her. I spent the whole day getting a little teary. Kiddo kept giving me a hard time about it and keep asking, “Daddy are you crying again?! Gotta love her. I can’t express how excited I am to share mountain biking with her. I just got the best riding partner I could ever ask for. A great adventure has just begun. I hope this post is the first of many regaling the many adventures we will share together. Next weekend… Camp Mondamin 90th Anniversary Reunion. Let’s see what she thinks of the real Back Forty. ~ iii