LJWorld.com weblogs Rolling along
Biking with my bestie
I’m not a misanthrope. Honest.
I don’t hate people. Not all of ’em, anyway. Heck, not even most. You? You’re golden.
OK, maybe I’m a bit antisocial.
Just the other day, my wife was with a work friend and said, “Andrew’s not much of a people person.” I know this because I was two feet away. At least I have enough people skills to know if you’re going to say something potentially unflattering, you wait until they’re beyond earshot before bagging on ’em.
I like to think I simply prefer to keep my own counsel.
I’ve taken more than enough personality tests to know that, A) I DO have one (a personality that is; take that!), and B) you probably don’t much care for it, and C) I don’t really care that you don’t care for it.
With that as background, perhaps it comes as no surprise that I do most of my bike riding solo.
Short work commutes, long recreational rides, trips to the store … normally it’s just me and one of my trusty steeds, and I’m more than OK with that. Some folks contend cycling is meant to be done in groups, or at least two- or threesomes, but I’ve always preferred to roll alone.
I have a regular riding buddy, and I’ve got to say just about every ride I’ve taken with my new bestie has far exceeded my misanthropic, er, antisocial expectations.
My son and I have ridden to school every good-weather day this semester.
Though he was somewhat reluctant to ride early in the year, lately he has become quite enthusiastic. Last week, we rode every day — a fact he pointed out to everyone within earshot (and a few just outside it).
The best part of it to me — aside from the company (surprise, surprise) — is that I’ve seen him develop into a real, responsible cyclist.
The first couple of rides together, I mother-henned him all the way: “Watch out for that car! Not so close to the curb! Where are you going?!? Signal!” Our route to school is a bit of a mixed bag, with quiet residential streets, a couple of higher-trafficked roads, a traffic circle and several uncontrolled intersections. It culminates in a mess of cars piloted by harried parents bottlenecking into tight spaces.
It’s tricky for some adult drivers to grasp right-of-way at a traffic circle, for instance. Imagine how hard it is for a 9-year-old cyclist.
Yet I’ve seen Brooks really get a feel for the road. He looks left-right-left at every intersection, yields when he’s supposed to yield, comes to a complete, foot-down stop at every stop sign and red light, motions for drivers to go ahead of him when it serves to aid traffic flow and signals just about every turn.
He has learned there are good drivers and bad, nice ones and mean ones (though there tend to be far more of the former when they encounter cute kids on bikes). He pays attention to headwinds and tailwinds, won’t pass cars on the right and would rather be safe than fast.
He has learned sometimes it doesn’t rain when it’s forecast to, and, a couple of weeks ago, he learned sometimes it does rain when it’s not forecast to. He also learned it doesn’t take that long to dry out.
And he has fun. He stands at the crest of every speed hump, as if he thinks one day he might take flight. He laughs and chats and smiles door-to-door.
Last week, we made a short detour to the store on our way home after school. We stuffed a few foodstuffs in his backpack, and as we reached the bike rack to start our ride home, Brooks turned to me and said, “I love riding bikes with you.”
Had he said it five minutes earlier in the candy aisle, I might have been a bit skeptical, but I fell for it at face value.
Why? I asked.
“I don’t know. It’s just … awesome.”
Yeah, can’t argue with that. It’s enough to make a people person out of me yet.