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From awful to awesome
Normally I wouldn’t use my blog to tell a potentially embarrassing story about my son.
I prefer such embarrassment come in the real world, so I can see him squirm and relish in his discomfort.
But I’ll make an exception this case.
First of all, I’m not wholly sold on the permanence of this whole Internets thing. I’m pretty sure it’s all just a fad, and once the novelty wears off we’ll all go back to ordering crap we don’t need out of printed catalogs, getting our news from newspapers and exchanging information with fax machines and over landline telephones.
Second, I’m confident he won’t stumble upon this entry thanks to the software on my home computer that strictly limits the kids’ access to porn, Justin Bieber songs and bicycle-themed blogs.
If he did somehow navigate to it — by clicking on, say, one of the dozen or so bookmarks narcissistic dad has pointing here, yet cleverly renamed “World’s greatest games” and “Free stuff for kids” and “Justin Bieber songs” — I’m confident he wouldn’t read far enough into it to see it was about him: “Aw, do I have to read it? I read something last month!”
Besides, it’s not so much about him as it is about an event, the Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride.
Two years ago I rode in the event and thought it was grand.
Last year, I took the family along and thought it was awful. I blogged about it and described it as the worst experience I’d ever had on two wheels. It moved from downtown Lenexa to Shawnee Mission Park last year, and was not the family-friendly event it was billed to be.
There was crying and puking (neither, fortunately, by anyone named Hartsock) … and I planned never to go back.
But I was contacted by an organizer this spring asking my opinion of the new course in Black Hoof Park. I admitted I didn’t know much about the area, but it sounded like they addressed my concerns about last year’s course. And since I bagged on the event last year, I felt obligated to give the new location a chance.
So, we headed off to the Lenexa hinterlands (basically, just northeast of the intersection of Kansas highways 7 and 10) late Saturday night.
Not long after we arrived, it became obvious my 9-year-old son was in a bad way.
Normally chatty and engaging, he was sullen and morose. He complained. He groused. He picked fights with his 12-year-old sister. He pouted.
In his defense, it was close to three hours past his bedtime, and it was uncomfortably hot. I believe at the start of the ride the temperature and humidity made for an infernal heat index of right around 450 degrees.
He was so glum, he couldn’t even be enticed by free glow sticks that were readily available.
Now, he was a little grumpy at the start of last year’s Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride, and he was surly before the start of last year’s St. Louis Moonlight Ramble, but in both cases his mood improved once we started rolling (only to head south again quickly as last year’s Lenexa ride turned into a trail of tears).
But he was so crabby Saturday night, I was beginning to fear no amount of endorphins would jolt him back to the land of the happy.
But, it happened.
Before long, he was hooting and hollering, providing a running commentary that brightened the faces of every rider he passed.
“We’re riding faster than the cars!”
“Look at that! Look over there! Wow, that light is bright!”
And when he passed an especially bright light illuminating the course, causing him to cast a huge shadow, “I’M THE BIGGEST PERSON IN THE WORLD!”
The roughly six-mile ride went quickly, and as we turned to head back to the start/finish area, my son pulled up alongside and said, “Dad, this was fun. I’m glad we did it. This was the BEST day.”
But he did have one regret. He admitted he wished he had grabbed a glow stick after all.
Luckily for him, dad had the foresight to put his mitts on a couple extra, and all was right with the world.
Thus, I can recommend the new-look Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride as a truly family-friendly event.
There are a few hills, but they’re early in the course, so the finish is nearly all downhill. The route is on nice, car-free roads. There’s some unique scenery, decent lighting, excellent support … basically everything that went wrong last year went right this year.
Just like my son’s mood, the Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride bounced back quite nicely.