As a cyclist, one of the greatest joys that I have experienced is my kids showing an interest in sharing the sport I love. I ride often with Christian Cycling and other groups, but there is nothing to compare to riding with family. So, as you can imagine, I was thrilled when Robbie, my [then] eight year old son, told me that he wanted a “road race bike!” With my wife and daughter leaving town on a short-term mission trip a couple of weeks away, I thought it would be perfect to surprise him with a trip up to the cabin and a new race bike to ride the open roads in northern Wisconsin. After contacting a number of people, I finally got the call I had been dreaming about — it was from one of the local Juniors coaches and he knew of a bike.
“I know someone who is selling a kid’s bike. It is a Trek KDR 1000: 24inch wheel, drop handle-barred kids road bike. Is that what you are looking for? But the only problem is the location of the bike — it is not in the Twin Cities.”
My heart was pounding. “OK,” I said excited, but trying not to be too optimistic, “where is it?”
“Well, it’s in Wisconsin.” was the reply.
“Wow! We are going to Wisconsin — that is where our cabin is!”
“But, it is way out in the boondocks. About four hours from the Twin Cities.”
“OK, where exactly are we talking?”
“Like a half hour north of Wausau. A small town called Irma”
I gulped hard. “We have to pass that on the way to the cabin . . .Tell me more.” I could hardly contain my excitement.
He told me the exact address and I looked it up on Google Maps while he was on the phone. As it turned out, the “problem location” was only TWO BLOCKS out of our way to the cabin. So, I immediately called the seller to find out more and make arrangements to look at it — and set up the purchase if it was what he wanted.
Since I don’t believe in co-incidences — only God-instances — I took this as sign that this was going to be something special. How often do we overlook the fact that in our long journey of being a parent, spouse, child or friend God puts exactly what we need only two blocks out of our way? We pray for this and that, but do we realize [and acknowledge] how often He puts it THAT close to us? Ironically, I was so busy being excited about “the bike,” that I was missing the part that would be the biggest blessing to me [and Robbie] — which is time together; both the weekend at the cabin and in the coming months when we would ride together.
Somehow, I was able to pass the days and weeks without mentioning a thing to Robbie — even though I was bursting at the seams with this secret. Finally, the day arrived and we were on our way to the cabin. To avoid suspicion, I packed his BMX bike along with my road machine. Heading north on highway 51 I was beside myself with excitement. When I saw a sign for Irma I said as an aside, “Oh, I almost forgot, I need to stop for something.”
“Oh, DAAAAAAD!” he said objecting, “Can’t we get to the cabin first? Are we out of gas?”
“Not exactly. Don’t worry, this will only take a minute. We will be at the cabin soon enough.”
When he saw the bike, his eyes lit up and he stammered “Umm…dad, that looks a little small for you. Whose is that?”
“That is for you, son! If you want it.” I gushed.
“Really? No way!”
Well, it didn’t take long for that to sink in and a huge smile spread across his face. He said “Yes” and we continued to the cabin with the new bike.
An hour later, we arrived and quickly got the car unloaded, bags unpacked and in our cycling gear. We rode quite a bit that weekend and he even learned to ride with SPD pedals and cleats and was “clipped in” for most of our riding. Even though the pace was slower and the miles fewer than my normal rides, it was some of the best riding and, one of the most memorable weekends that I have experienced on a bike.
Robbie, now 13, got to ride with my Christian Cycling group for a few seasons, but has long since outgrown that bike and has gone back to a BMX style ride. Lately, though, he has asked me about another road bike. This brings a smile to dad’s face every time it is brought up. But, to be honest, it doesn’t matter if we are riding road, on a trail, ripping down some single track or maybe not even on a bike, it is the time spent together and the memories that are made that matters much more than the activity we happen to be doing.
I count myself as very blessed to have a teen-aged son who still wants to hang out with his dad. I will take advantage of that for as long as he lets me. I will, also, pray for the opportunity to share my life, my heart and my faith with both of my kids. On a bike or off, I yearn be able to speak into their lives. I also hope to recognize all of the God-instances that bring me closer to my family — like when they ask for a “road bike”, but are actually asking for “dad time”.