Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Good Stuff

My grand plan for today was to get out of the house with Sylvia to give Momma and Willa some quiet time. The week off has been great for strengthening the daddy-daughter bond. I'm ready to get back to work, but I will also miss the unstructured days devoted to family. I've also been able to clear out a few lingering to-do tasks, some from over a year ago. Monday will come too soon, but I am fortunate in that I like my job and my co-workers. In addition, I typically get to learn new stuff everyday. However, I'm sincerely going to miss all the time I've been able to spend with Sylvia this week.

Anyhow, back to the topic: Sylvia and I set off about midday with bike and Burley for points unknown. The obligatory stop at CRC produced a chance meeting with the lovely Alix who was back from a training ride around Mtka. She joined us for a cup. BRose seemed to be having fun tending shop, but I have to confess he always freaks me out just a bit when he says in that slightly grave (and very fatherly, I might add) tone as I'm departing: "You be careful out there." It's like Hill Street Blues -- you never know who might not come back to the station house alive.

Despite any ill portent, I'm pleased to report Sylvia and I had a fine day. It was sunny, windy and warmish in the mid 40s. Sylvia fell asleep shortly after leaving CRC. The past dozen or so trips in the Burley she's been complaining about the bumps. Today I tried something and it seems to have done the trick: put a full size pillow in there with her. It absorbs the shock and keeps her from banging the sidebars of the trailer when she slumps over for a nap.

She slept away and I just kept riding. Geez, but how I love being on a bike with no destination, no timeline and no expectations. It just doesn't happen all that often to be honest. We went from Uptown to the Cedar Lake Trail in Kenwood, then headed west. I had no idea it connects again in Hopkins. That makes for a nice loop. We passed so many empty playgrounds in St Louis Park I regretted Sylvia was asleep. That section of the Cedar Lake Trail was not too heavily traveled either, making for easier pedaling than the springtime free-for-all around the lakes area. I just try to take deep breaths and keep my fingers to myself and near the brake levers.

The folks I relished making fun of (to myself) the most while riding today were the roadies. Racers or rec riders, it didn't matter. And, no, I don't mean the sound and rigging guys from the last Metallica tour. I mean the cyclists who were out taking things way too seriously (IMHO, as the acronym goes). Dudes, and dudettes -- let's be equal opportunity, you're on a multi-use recreational path endangering the safety and wrecking the enjoyment of countless other users by ripping by at 18+mph riding 2-3 abreast. Of course, some of you decked out in local or (my favorite) replica pro kit had winter insulation adhering to your bodies that kept you from going much faster than me towing a Burley. All right ... one more mockery and I'll stop. I absolutely want to knock these particular folks off their $4K Scotts and Ridleys -- the freaks who crown their team kit with the garishly Euro cinch-style training beanie. No helmet of course; the Europeans don't train in helmets, you domestique! The beanie sans helmet is comforting when you consider the only riding action most of these folks saw all winter was the virtual video in front of their Tacx trainers. Add to that the notoriously twitchy handling skills of most roadies and, well, let's just say the smart money goes on the Cubs for the next World Series. Okay, done.

Headed back east toward Uptown Sylvia awoke just as I saw a train approaching. We were the lucky ones who made it across the tracks in time, but we stopped anyway so Sylvia could watch the train go by. And it was a long one, too -- about 15 minutes. In all my miles of riding the greenways in and around Mpls, I've never been held up by a train. This was pretty cool and Sylvia got a kick out of it as well.

Since the co-pilot was now awake, I was taking her orders: "To the playground!" Which playground was up to me. I wanted to keep riding, so I meandered down the Midtown and over to Powderhorn Park. Sylvia had a great time. I enjoy working with her at playgrounds, talking her through challenges when she asks for rescue and seeing her solve problems and build confidence.

Here's Sylvia climbing all over the piece of equipment she calls "The Pretzel." My frame of reference is her skill level from last fall. She now climbs stuff that blows me away and even scares me a little. You wanna have some fun and realize just how out of touch adulthood can make you with your own body? Go play at a playground.

An action shot of my fearless daughter exiting the tunnel slide. I had to help her into this slide the first half dozen times, but eventually she just started running laps and bombing down it on her own. The Powderhorn playground is not as shiny-new and safe as other parks in the city. This slide had a huge, intimidating (for a 2 year old) gap between the platform and tunnel. "Safe" playgrounds are kind of funny. I read a story last year that sited research evidence proving the "safer" authorities try to make payground equipment, the more risks kids take while playing on it. Amen, brother. Falling down, crashing and occasionally drawing a little blood are necessary thrills.

We must have spent an hour and a half at the park. I was getting cold. The sky darkened and the wind increased. Sylvia was fine though. I asked her about that and she told me, "I don't get cold because I'm warm-blooded." All I needed was someone to fittingly add an "Oh, SNAP!" from over my shoulder.

My attempts to coax Sylvia away with the promise of french fries did not work. (Okay, Matt's Bar was only 5 blocks away and I was being a bit selfish.) She wanted to go home instead. Whether or not she could see through my ruse, I admired her for saying no to the fries. We all need to exercise a little self control from time to time. That's a good reminder.

Of course, one block from home she was screaming from the trailer, "I WANT TO GET FRENCH FRIES!" Go figure.

1 comment:

Snakebite said...

Sounds like a great day!

On the Almanzo 100, we'll know who the roadies are. They'll be the ones whining about riding on gravel five miles into it.