31 August 2008

The ride that turned out the way it did

When my son was little, he would accompany me on many rides. They weren't particularly fast or difficult, but I was sharing Mountain Biking with him and he seemed to enjoy himself too. We had great tales and memories; epic explorations and painful crashes. I would push him to do more than he thought he could (or probably more importantly, more than he wanted to do), but he always rode, and always demonstrated that he was both capable and strong and ended the ride with a smile on his face.

The only problem is that I always had to play a game with him that I didn't want to play: he'd balk at putting in any kind of effort. I'd get him to challenge himself because I didn't really let him believe he had a choice. He'd challenge himself and succeed and then we'd start the cycle over. I don't want this to seem like I drove him until he broke, but I pushed him to always strive to improve. Then he turned into an adult, and at this point I figure he's got to want to do something on his own as it's no longer my place in life to push him or provide experiences to him. It's up to him to push himself and expand on his own.The only problem is that he still tries to play the game. I feel like I'm in one of those damned if I do; damned if I don't situations.

I can say that in the past two years I've missed having the opportunity to expose him to more of the world; we had shared almost 18 years as mountain biking partners, travel partners, experience junkies. I knew him at a level of performance that was strong and willing to push forward. So, today it was particularly hard for me because he was neither. We had arranged to ride together in the early morning, although I can now see from this perspective that it was probably more me arranging for us to ride together. I asked him three times about riding after his initial possible acceptance, so it now I can see that there was no drive to do it from his side. Then, I had asked him to get his stuff together last night so that when I arrived we'd just be able to leave for the ride, but no amount of encouragement worked as he was too drunk and stoned to have real drive or ability to push himself forward. I knew, of course, that his state last night and his refusal to do anything to get ready was not going to bode well for today.

As usual, I was running late, but I had the added burden of getting his bike ready so I'll accept my own failing to get moving as quickly as possible. By the time I got to his house, it was an hour after I was supposed to be there, and then he wasn't ready, and this and that happened, and soon it was almost 10 before we were walking out the door.

By 10:30 we were on the trail, and sure enough, it was getting pretty warm. It was not unbearable, and there was a breeze, but it wasn't cool like it would have been at 7:30. And, at the pace we were riding, I was moist but not dripping. If you know me, you know that means I wasn't really sweating.

I didn't expect him to be fast or fit. Yet, we rode to just past the waterfall in about 30 minutes and he was ready to turn back. He would probably have kept riding if I had asked him to, but I could tell that he didn't want to ride any longer. He also complained of needing to study (which I respect if he's going to do it) and that he was tired and hungry and too hot.

So, we turned around and rode back. Since we hadn't gone very far, the ride back was fairly quick. A few times I zipped down a hill or up a hill and turned around to meet up with him again. As we'd pass I offered a warm smile that I hoped would convey that I was glad that at least we'd been out together, and maybe it was a start to something more. I sure miss him and his companionship and sharing explorations with him, and hope that one day in the near future, before I get to the point where I can't keep up, that he comes back around. Until then, I'll just keep trying.