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.”
it seemed like a nice enough day for a bike ride to try out the new coon prairie trail that was recently finished between viroqua and westby. a bit breezy perhaps, but worth the 8 mile bicycle ride from our house to downtown since we could make a stop for ice cream at ole & lena’s kaffe hus. and, hey, we’ve done a 20 mile bike ride so we knew we could make it.
the ride out was, in hindsight, suspiciously easy because we somehow didn’t notice that we had a 20mph wind to our backs. i guess we should have known something was up when we made it the 8 miles to westby without seemingly having to pedal once.
it was so easy that odin decided he wanted to pick up 4 more miles to make it an even 12 before enjoying ice cream and heading back home. but by the time we made it back to ole and lena’s the winds were gusting up to 40 mph! and we were still 8 miles from home!
we were both still in denial about how hard the rest of the trip was going to be as we relished our ice cream cones and commented on how the crazy wind made for tough going.
i guess we both thought maybe the wind would calm down. we had no idea how wrong we would be.
the next 8 miles were brutal. the wind picked up more, sustaining more than 20 mph and gusting over 40mph. the winds were so strong that you had to pedal doing downhill just to keep moving!
for the first time in his life i saw odin really struggle with the idea he might not be able to accomplish something he set out to do. of course, i told him there was no shame in calling mama and waiting by the road for her to come pick us up.
“poppi, i really want to finish this. but i don’t know if i can. i don’t think i can. i really don’t think i can.”
i told him we’d take it one hill at a time and to listen to his body. just one pedal push after another and another and another. if at some point he didn’t have another pedal push, well that was just fine. we could always try again some other day.
it was amazing to watch him draw upon every ounce of determination he had and make it all the way home.
well, all the way except for the last few blocks when his front tire went flat 🙂
he was pretty tuckered out when we got home but, of course, five minutes later he was asking when we could go outside and play some street hockey.
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!