Setting fear aside ..

“I can’t believe she doesn’t know how to ride a bike..”

That is the reaction we would get from just about everyone who happened to come across the little tidbit of information that my 10 year old didn’t know how to ride a bike.  Not only did she not know, but she absolutely refused to learn.

“That’s just crazy,” they would say.  “Why doesn’t she want to learn?”

It’s been this way for years now.

She will go 40 mph down a mountainside on skiis despite having rammed head on into a tree when she was probably 4 years old.  No fear to get back up.  She will ride on a scooter.  A skateboard.  She will get on any horse and enjoys not just a leisurely walk.  But an all out run.

Yet she won’t get on a bike.

I don’t know if it was the 4th of July neighborhood parade incident years ago that scarred her when she fell and the decorative red, white and blue pipecleaner on the handlebar went clear through her hand ..

Or if she .. for some reason .. has just truly not wanted to learn.

“C’mon…” I used to say.  “Everyone knows how to ride a bike.  It’s just something you do.  It will be fun!  We can go together.  You have to learn.”

“Not me,” she would reply.  “Not unless it’s the law.  Is it a law?” she used to ask.

I was getting ready to call the Governor’s office.  Who I knew perpiherally through work and who used to live in our modest little neighborhood. I was certain would help me out.

“It is a law, my law.. ” and would say, laughing.  “Would it help to have a call from the Governor?”

“No.  I’m NOT RIDING A BIKE.

………..

The Cowboy and I were determined with some lovely downtime for us this week .. that she would learn.  And she’s been softening to the idea more and more .. especially since the handsome young boy she often hangs out with now and who lives next door to us rides his bike all the time.

“What do you want to do today,” we asked as she woke on Saturday.

“I want to ride,” she replied.

“Well, if you want to ride the horses later today, you’ve got to first try to ride a bike,” the Cowboy and I said, united.

“Ok.”

………

She didn’t want either of us to help, at least not at first.

The Cowboy tried.

She got off, came back to the porch and said, “I want to do this alone.”

“And two minutes.  I’m only going to try for two minutes.”

We left her alone.  For awhile.  Two minutes came and went and she was down at the end of the Cowboy’s gravel drive still trying.  I went to see if I could help.

We went down the road and back.  A couple times.  The dog in tow ..

“You can do this,” I said.  “You just need some momentum.  It’s hard to start from a dead stop.”

She actually listened.  Didn’t get mad.  Didn’t fuss.  She tried.  And after a few more attempts ..was up and pedaling.

For about 15 feet.

Next try, just a little bit more.  And a little bit more.  By this time, we were coming back up the drive and nearing the porch.

“Ok.”  I tried.  “Can we ride the horses now?”

………

The Cowboy asked if I could see the smile on her face.

I couldn’t.  But knowing that made my heart smile.

So did the fact that Sunday morning, when we came back in the house after returning from town, she wasn’t behind us.  The Cowboy looked out the window …

“She’s on the bike,” he said.

Runners étiquette ..

We hadn’t gone far Saturday morning..

When we ran across another runner.

“Hi,” I said …

“Hi,” … she replied.  Smiling.

The Cowboy was running alongside me.  He said nothing.  The only sound coming from him, now a step in front of me to make room on the path for the other runner .. was his breathing and the sound of his shoes hitting the bare pavement.

“Hey,” I said.  “I’ve never asked, but do you know runner’s etiquette?”

The Cowboy starts laughing…

“You remember where I live, right?” says the Cowboy.  Now we’re both laughing.  “The only thing I run by when I go running… are some cows.”

…….

I love that I live in a city full of runners.  Long distance, short distance, professionals and novice runners.  And I couldn’t live on a bigger thoroughfare for athletes in this town.  I’m just a hop, skip and a jump from the main loop many train on each day, so hitting the path to do something I’ve done since I was just a little kid, do now to stay in shape and enjoy immensely, is easy.

While it may seem like you just go out and jog.. there are some rules runners live by.  (Despite being a runner, I do not know them all..)

First, say hello when you pass another runner.  Or at the very least, a small wave as you glance over and keep going on your journey.  When others are on the path, or if you’re on a sidewalk, stay in your ‘lane’.  If someone is coming at you, stay to your right.  If you’re on the street because there are no sidewalks, do the exact opposite.  Run into traffic so that they can better see you and you them.  Keep your shoes tied.  Your head up, unless you’re running a big hill and then sometimes its better to look down right in front of where you’ll take your next step so that the hill doesn’t look so intimidating.  Long distance runs?  Strike heel to toe, don’t land on the ball of your foot.  Sprinting is another story.  And breathe.  Probably the most important there.  Some of those last points weren’t etiquette.  Just good advice I’ve gotten over the years.  I think.  Take it or leave it.

One more thing, if you’re running with a dog.. or even walking, pick up after it for the love of Pete.  (Don’t ask who Pete is.  Just needed a name there.  And picking up after them, a discussion yet to come..)

The first time I took the Cowboy running with the dogs, he had one of their leashes full out and almost clotheslined a biker who expected that as they got closer, the dogs leash would get shorter and the dog out of his way.  If I weren’t laughing so hard trying to help the Cowboy reign in the dog.. I might have been mortified.

As we laugh.. there is a seriousness to it all.  And a system.  And we chuckle as we get ready to head out on another run..  they forgot to add, ‘say hello’.

There are over 40 miles of bicycle paths in Madison. These paths are used by a variety of users; including bicycle commuters, recreational bicyclists, families, pedestrians and skaters. By following a few basic rules, these paths can be shared safely by all users.

  • All users should keep to the rightside of the path, except to pass.
  • When traveling side-by-side, stay on the right half of the path.
  • Faster users should yield to slower users.
  • Always travel at a safe speed,with due regard for others. Faster users may want to consider alternate routes to ensure the safety of all users.
  • Pass others on the left by slowing down, giving an audible warning such as calling out, “Excuse me, passing left”, and waiting for a reaction before passing.
  • Move off the pathway when stopping.
  • Be careful when crossing streets and driveways. Watch for traffic and make sure other drivers are aware of the path and your presence.