The night before the big ride, I started getting worried. I had been pumping up “Bike The Drive 2007” with my 3 yo daughter Grace warning her that although it was a long ride, there would be a lot of cookies and juice and we’d bring balls and play catch in the park at the rest stops. We’ve been building up towards a 30 mile ride by doing shorter rides in the Doodlebug, and I was confident that she was good for at least 90 minutes and we’d bail at 15 miles if we had to. Saturday night before the ride however, there was a line of thunderstorms from Chicago to Rockford and they were predicting 80% of thunderstorm activity in downtown Chicago until 7:00 AM Sunday morning.
I awoke at 4:30 AM Sunday and it was raining in the western burbs where I live. I went outside and loaded up the bike and gear into the car. I went back inside and checked the radar (http://nws.noaa.gov) one last time: thunderstorms everywhere and about 55 degrees. Rather than risk Gracie getting sick, I decided to go on the ride by myself.
I live about 45 minutes outside of the city by car, and I got downtown at about 6:15 AM. Registration was in a baseball field just off of Lake Shore Drive, and I made the mistake of walking my bike to the registration tent. I ended up plucking wet sand out of my brakes and sprockets for about 20 minutes. I ran into a friend from church, Hunter Byington. It’s always cool to run into one person out of approximately 8 million in the Chicago metro area. I got underway heading South sporting a raincoat around 6:40 AM and finished the ride at about 9:00 AM, averaging just about 12.3 mph according to my cyclometer, with two rest stops. It was wet going, but the ride was nonetheless well populated. The rain cleared around 7:30 AM and I stopped briefly to remove my raincoat which weighed about 20 lbs by then. After 7:30 there were more people with kids in trailers, before then not so many.
When I got home around 10, I was confronted by an angry Gracie. “Daddy, why did you go on the ride without me?” Jen told me that she had awoken that morning, saw that I was not there and started crying, “Daddy went on the cookie ride without me!” I explained that it was raining and cold and she would have gotten wet, and could have gotten sick. Well, then I said, hey let’s go on a bike ride now! So we loaded up my bike, Jen’s bike, and Gracie’s Strawberry Shortcake bike with training wheels, headed down to the Fox river, and she pedaled from Geneva to the big Fabyan windmill on Rte. 25. I was so proud of her because it was her first “real” bike ride and she went for 2 miles. She was proud too, and had almost forgotten about the cookies.
On the trail, she turns her head and looks at me from her moving bike, “Daddy, can we have snacks?” Her bike careened in the direction she turned and she tumbled into a pile of leaves and weeds on the side of the trail. I stopped and looked at her and asked, “Are you OK?” She poked up her head, sat up and repeated, “Daddy, can we have snacks NOW?”