Summer is winding down. I hate to say it, but it's true. The days are growing shorter, so much so that I'm thinking I need to round up my lights for the morning portion of my commute. That's not to say that summer's over or that the good times have come to an end. No. Quite contrary, it just means that we've more to fit in to each day.
This weekend I tried my best to do just that. And in doing so I realized a few things. First, the rides, then the revelations.
On Saturday my son and I had a rare opportunity to bring our bikes into Anchorage for some riding in Kinkaid. I'd not yet tasted the north side trails - Middle Earth and the others - and on the advice of his bike coach, we decided to take the time and get some riding it. I'll tell you what, these trails are amazing - flowy, fast, technical, challenging, grin-inducing, and spectacularly situated in some beautiful country.
From Middle Earth we made our way down to the beach for a few miles of mixed sand, gravel, rock, and tidal flats. With the sun and the light breeze, the beach was some amazing riding. Well, for me on the fat tires. My son wasn't quite so impressed as his skinny tires made it a bit more of a challenge, but he learned some important lessons about soft surface riding which will make his winter riding with me that much more enjoyable.
After the beach we hit up the south side single tracks - Mighty Bike, CS Express, Bolling Alley, and Tower Power before heading back to the Chalet to get picked up by the missus. All in all we put in about 15 miles and had a blast pushing ourselves to ride better and harder than we had in a while. Riding the same set of trails week after week can lead to complacency, which breeds both boredom and increases the risk of injury as we tend to not pay as much attention to the surroundings as we should. It was good to get out there and shake things up a bit. Of course, now I miss living in Anchorage even more than I used to.
On Sunday I did a quick commute ride with my oldest to her work. She's 16 and hasn't yet asked for a driver's license. Instead, she rides her bike to her work. It's a five and a half mile commute each way and she seems happy to do the pedaling. She's not had to deal with extremes in weather, but I tend to think that she'd handle them just fine and would likely ride in just about any condition if, for no other reason, than to prove that she can do it.
All this biking with my kids got me thinking that no matter what we do right now in terms of finding alternate forms of transportation and trying to reduce the use of fossil fuels, it's not really up to us. What I mean is that while I can personally reduce my own use of fossil fuels, the bigger pay back is that my kids see biking and bike commuting not as something unique or weird, but as a normal and valid choice for getting from point A to B. This normalization is what will lead to more people choosing bikes for transportation. Seeing my fat butt out there riding every day of the year won't do that, won't have the same effect. I guess it is a bit like that cheesy song from the 80's with the line "I believe children are the futures teach them well and let them lead the way..."
If we provide a good example for them, the next generation will do amazing things, they'll make the right choices, they'll make things better. We just have to trust and give them the examples to follow.