My gearshift cable broke just a moment ago, sticking me in permanent fifth gear for these final 8 miles. Not a big deal, but kind of annoying.
Lots of people out here today. I know this is the busiest time of the lake all week……and, paradoxically, the time when I am least likely to be here.
There were tons of volunteers out here from the “For the Love of the Lake” cleaning up the shores… Retired folks… Young couples… Groups of young kids who no doubt are for filling some kind of volunteer requirement… Whose mothers I am sure will make sure they get their forms signed.
Today I keep looking at baby strollers. And for two miles, I rode right behind a guy with a baby carrier on the back of his bike.
Which reminded me of this little rack on the back of my bike.
It’s a remnant. A baby seat used to go on top of it, and we used to take Maria on rides around this very lake when she was small. I have a memory of being on a part of the trail which is just behind my right shoulder about 10 feet right now.
We are riding around, all three of us. And I’m excited to have her on the back of the bike.
I’m used to riding by myself. If you fall, no big deal. All you hurt is yourself. But now my life’s greatest treasure is on the back of my bike in a tiny helmet, nestled inside a bit of plastic and cloth.
She has no idea how terrified I am for her safety. Nor, I am hoping, does Dennise.
Eventually, I lose my fear and just start to enjoy the ride. We stop for a bit I get off the bike look behind me at Maria, and apparently during all this time I have been in anguish, she is fast asleep. The wind and the bouncing the motion of the bike has done the same thing that car rides used to do for her… Put her right to sleep.
It’s obviously been a decade and a half since Maria rode on top of that baby carrier. For some reason, I never saw fit to take the rack off. I don’t know why. Heck, every now and then I’m on a ride and I have to strap something down to it. It comes in handy about once a year.
But I keep thinking about that sleeping baby in the baby carrier. And then I think about Thursday morning.
We woke up with all of her supplies for college in our cars, and got ready to go have breakfast. We were reloading her clothes from our cabin at Mount Sequoyah, and I just got a glimpse of her walking out the cabin door.
She was wearing her Razorback shirt, tanned and lean from the summer, hair pulled back.
It stopped me in my tracks.
“Who is this young woman?” I thought.
And then “Oh yeah….”
She’s not gonna fall off my bike any more…and I’m both glad and sad for that.
I don’t think I would trade any one stage of my life of being a Dad. Each age is more amazing than the next.
But, I think I will keep that bike rack.
I mean, you never know when you need to strap stuff down.