big day for odin today. it was the first day of fifth grade and after years in the local waldorf school he had his first day at public school and loved it. we’re still very big supporters of the waldorf school and couldn’t say enough about how central the experience has been in developing the wonderful, caring boy that he is today. to use a hockey analogy, this is about skating to where the puck will be.
in the morning he was appropriately nervous and while a little bummed to not be able to wear his contacts ( NEW SCHOOL! NEW LOOK! ) since he washed one down the shower drain the night before and we don’t have backups yet ( *cough* someone might have told him not to take a shower with his contacts in *cough*. lesson learned the hard way. ) he was taking it in stride.
he traded his half block walk for a half mile bike ride or walk. i don’t him i’d be more than happy to walk him to school, all the way to his locker and give him a hug as he walked into his class.
with a little glimmer in eye he said, “no poppi, that’s o.k. i can get to class by myself.”
for father’s day, possibly to balance out the ice cream maker i got for my birthday, kris and odin gave me a nice little saris bike carrier which means we can now go on fantastic Bicycling Adventures outside of the five or ten mile radius bike routes we traverse in town.
this is A Big Deal. we’ve wanted one Forever since we haven’t really had an easy way to transport multiple bikes in the jetta.
so, today, odin and i decided to hit the elroy-sparta state trail which is about 35 miles from homebase. i intented to go on a leisurely 5 or 10 mile ride.
odin hatched A Different Plan when the nice woman who sold us a trail ticket mentioned there was a fantastic tunnel 9 miles down the trail. 9 miles! that’d be at least 18 miles total. muuuuuuuuch longer than our previous record bike ride of 8 miles. but odin said he was up for it.
so off we rode.
after nine miles, up a 3% grade for much of the route, we finally reached The Tunnel Entrance. it was pretty neat because you could feel the cold air coming from the 3/4 mile long tunnel well before you see the entrance.
i probably shouldn’t have been surprised that odin rode the 9 miles like it was a trip around the block. i, however, was huffing a bit 🙂
note, you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
and, if you can stand shakey-cam, you can watch us walk the entirety of the 3,810 foot tunnel. i was warned that it would be dark and thought the little light on the front of my bike would adequately illuminate our way. it provided just barely enough light which made for quite a interesting walk considering there was far more water dripping from the ceiling than i anticipated.
for some reason the video camera got stuck in “macro mode” ( maybe because of the water droplets on the lens? ) so it’s a little blurry, though i think it adds the right artisitic flair 🙂
at the other end of the tunnel we found a sign which told the story of the making of the tunnel. apparently, workers struck an overhead spring which explains why there was so much water dripping from ceiling.
coming back through the other side of the tunnel we were surprised to run into a guy who climbed to the top of the tunnel entrance.
the video camera didn’t adjust to show his face which is probably good because i think he was smoking something that’s not legal in most states unless you have a health condition 🙂
while we were biking i told odin how awesome it would be if we ran across a little shop that sold ice cream sandwiches and lamented the fact that there was probably no chance my dream would come true.
lo and behold, we did run across a little stand that a nice old man set up in his backyard.
i think he thought it was pretty neat that we were out for a father and son ride and offered to take our picture just as we prepared to dig into the very muchly appreciated cold and creamy gift.
we’ll ignore that look on my face.
at one point on the trail there’s a cool standstone formation ( or at least i think it’s sandstone ) that appeared to be frequented by local teen-agers ( lots of names scrawled in the sand, remains of a bonfire and some empty adult beverage cans ). it’s at about miles 15 on the return route and when odin said he wanted to stop and rest and climb to the top i was only too happy to oblige.
( i couldn’t resist taking one more of odin sitting on top of the sandstone and it didn’t have anything to do with me wanting to “milk” every minute out of the rest stop. honest. no, really. )
aaaaaaand, we. finally. finished. all. twenty. miles.
we talked a lot during the ride about judging how much energy you had left and told him many, many time we didn’t have to bike the whole route all at once. but maybe that was all about me and not him.
he finished with a smile and said he could have probably rode 40 miles. or maybe 50.
and, as his style, he said he said he couldn’t possibly thank me enough for taking him on The Best Bike Ride Ever.
epilogue: sparta, wisconsin is the self-described “Bicycling Capital of America” because the traile we rode was the first rail bed in wisconsin to be converted to bike trails. i’m not sure that warrants the title ( why not the “Bicycling Capital of Wisconsin”? ) but it’s a fun little bit of appropriate trivia.
when i was growing up i always extra enjoyed having a may 25th birthday because it came just around the time the school year was ending and the unofficial start of summer, memorial day weekend. all kinds of awesomeness happening all at once.
now, my approaching birthday reminds me that odin is almost done with another school year, ending his Kindergarten Years, and i’m another year older ( and certainly not getting any younger ).
which is all good. it is The Way of Things. though i sure wish i could bottle of the feeling of walking together to school with odin nearly every day of The Kindergarten Years.
he still wants to hold hands, for now. when he’s not riding his bike.
one of the many endearing things about odin is that he’s remarkably simple in his christmas list. there are no requests for this trendy toy or that video game console. rather, on his short wish list for santa was a set of winter tires for his bicycle. since he went through the effort to earn it all by himself, he suuuure wished santa would bring him some tires so he could keep riding all winter long. he saw some pretty cool blue and red tires at bluedog and thought they’d look mighty sharp and would be much more fun than regular ol’ black tires. and perhaps with a patriotic inspired bit of color coordination, he thought the red and blue would go well with the white color on the bike frame.
of course, on christmas morning odin sure was happy to see santa had brought him ones just like he was looking for! i don’t know it for a certainty, but i think santa’s keen on gifts that encourage odin to get outside and play.
i had some trouble performing the tire switcharoo ( isn’t santa supposed to perform some magic and already have put the tires on the bike by the time odin arose from his slumber? ), so odin launched into an impromptu cheer to help over the hurdle by sing songily chanting, “you can do it! i know you can! my poppi can do anything!”
odin also asked santa for a balaclava for winter riding which is an excellent request since the multifunctional headgear allows you to keep your face warm while allowing you breath freely through your nose and, most importantly, you can still put on a bicycle helmut over it.
odin didn’t ask for it, but santa threw in a new, stylish matching winter coat because, well, santa just does that sort of thing sometimes.
odin’s ready to roll!
now kris and i just need to get get ourselves some snow tires and we’ll be ready to hit the snowy streets family style!
while nobody is ever going to accuse us of being helicopter parents we’ve been fairly cautious when it comes to letting odin ride around on his bike without supervision and up until today he’s been happy to be limited to riding up and down the block on his own.
after some thought, it sure didn’t seem like an unreasonable request. it’s a straight shot down our quiet street with sidewalks all the way and just one intersection. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?!! ( just kidding. sort-of. )
postscript: i’m glad i didn’t search the internet for advice on what age kids should be allowed to ride their bikes by themselves before letting his head out. yeesh, folks seem consumedwith fear. how sad.
it all started with a book – “henry and beezus”. in the classic beverly cleary book, which we read the book to odin over the winter, henry huggins has one misadventure after another while attempting to raise money for the bike of his dreams. after finishing the book, odin decided that he too wanted to save up money to buy the bike of his dreams.
so, he promptly went to bluedog cycles, picked out a very stylish ( and spendy ) kona and set about saving money by doing a variety of chores around the house. and every so often he’d take a jar of money to the bike shop to put towards His Dream Bicycle that was sitting in the window with a “sold” sign.
we all decided that when spring arrived odin could have a rummage and bake sale to, hopefully, earn the balance left to be paid. at last spring arrived and after much deliberation he selected some Very Special Things ( including his first bicycle that he learned to ride without training wheels ) ) that were not quite as special as His Dream Bicycle, and helped make cookies and brownies and hotdogs on The Big Day.
within 4 hours he made enough money to buy His Dream Bicycle.
so, we excitedly went to the bike shop and pete, bluedog cycle’s proprietor extraordinaire, was happy to accept odin’s final payment, delivered in a kickapoo coffee tin.
of course, after earning His Dream Bicycle, it was time to have The Very Important Talk regarding the Do’s and Dont’s of bicycle ownership, which was all the more important when the bike has derailleurs and handbrakes and whatnot. all Very Important Stuff and odin recounted for hours the New Knowledge that had been bestowed upon him.
the whole experience was a great reminder for all of us that something as simple as a buying a bicycle can be A Great Adventure.