I don’t want to be premature in speculating 2011 might be the year of the bike, but it might. So I will. Speculate.
Ever since the ‘Goals of 2010’, the Gort has had on his list ‘learn to ride a bike.’ We are of course living in Canadaland where the average child seemingly learns to ride a bike shortly after his or her third birthday. But the Gort has been resolute in his disavowal of all things cyclical. Whether due to the made-of-iron bike he’d been trying to pedal with his waif-like legs. Or an unsettling lack of interest in cycling. Or both.
But a friend kindly passed along her son’s too-small-but-much-lighter bike. And ever since the weather turned Springy, the Gort has been….smitten. He’s dragged his bike out to the sidewalk in front of our house on a near-daily basis, dutifully riding back…and forth….along the agreed upon fifty yards that stretches from the house next door to the tree two houses south from us. It’s surely the dullest, most restrictive cycling path in the history of man. And yet our nouveau cyclist happily etches a trail into the pavement ten, fifteen minutes at a time.
On a whim, I loaded the Gort’s bike and the Hen’s...tricycle…in the van a couple of weeks ago and headed to the reservoir. The Gort marvelled at the miles of trail that stretched out before him. And I marvelled at the Hen…whose legs were about ten months too long for his tricycle. Marvelled might not be the right word: stifled-the-howls-of-laughter-that-threatened to-escape-from-my-mouth is more accurate. It was circus-esque: a three and a half year old wearing a bright red helmet; tongue sticking out of his mouth from intense concentration as he awkwardly tried to pedal his too-small-trike. Much like those die-hard Calgarian cyclists who put their bikes in the lowest gear possible when making their way up a steep incline. Their legs spinning in what appears to be futility.
The kid needed to get off his trike onto a real bike, that much was evident. So the professor purchased a mini-bike on Saturday and our Hen has been smitten ever since.
In utter ‘strike while the iron is hot’ fashion, I decided to capitalize on Johnsonbikemania by heading to Edworthy Park today after school. So the boys could ride on trails longer than fifty yards. ‘Do you want to meet me and the boys at Edworthy after school,’ I emailed the professor.
He replied in the affirmative. ‘I’ll take the bus to the river and walk along [the river] in your direction until I get to the parking lot.’
So I headed to the park with the boys around 3. And we began our journey ‘toward the professor’. Even though I was never clear on the starting point of his ‘walk towards us’. We passed the Angels Ice Cream Shop. ‘Can we get a treat?’ the Gort asked. ‘I forgot my wallet,’ I declined, ‘but we’re supposed to meet up with Daddy. Maybe he’ll have his wallet.’ The boys kept biking. Several yards ahead of me. I had to walk at a brisk pace to keep up with them. Could this be the summer of long-walks-as-exercise?!
I squinted in the distance. I checked my cell phone. For the time. A message. Anything. It was 3.38pm. There was no message. ‘I need a break,’ the Hen announced. So we stopped at a picnic table and I dug a container of quinoa salad out of the stroller basket. I can’t say I often travel with quinoa salad in my stroller, but I’d missed lunch and was semi-starving. I doled out bites of quinoa laced with mango, feta and avocado while I stared towards the east. Waiting for a man with a red windbreaker to show up.
He didn’t. ‘Okay, let’s head back to the car,’ I rallied the troops, ‘I don’t see your dad anywhere.’
Suddenly, the Hen was tired of biking. And balked – loudly – at the implication that he’d have to ride his bike all the way back to the parking lot. And as I carried a mini-bike while awkwardly pushing a stroller, I conceded that the summer-of-long-walk-rides was not yet upon us.
I fully expected to see the professor waiting at the car-van in the parking lot. But he wasn’t there. ‘Can we play at the park,’ the boys begged. And I had no choice but to say yes. So they played, while I kept my eyes peeled on the horizon. Until, at 4.10pm, I finally saw a grey backpack making its way toward the parking lot.
‘I might have underestimated how long it would take me to get from the bus stop [at University/Crowchild] to here,’ he winced.’ Clearly worn out. ‘Couldn’t you have walked from the University in less time?’ I had to ask, ‘I mean isn’t that the University right over there?’ I pointed to a stack of buildings across the river.
‘Yes, in retrospect that might have made more sense,’ he sighed.
And then we drove home.