Cycling With Dad

My father and I have always been close. From riding with him to pick up a pizza order when I could barely speak, to playing Atari and Nintendo together, to bowling and volunteering at a food bank. However, one activity really bonded us — cycling.

It seems I rode bikes with my father for as long as I could remember. After I could confidently ride a bike without training wheels, we’d take a family ride to a trail loop that was close by. When I was twelve, my father had purchased a new Trek bicycle for himself. I reaped the spoils, as he handed his previous bicycle to me, a 1984 Trek racing bike. Sleek with a black frame with red lettering. Instead of riding to the nearby trails, or around the lot where I lived, I was doing full circuits around town with my father. Those rides would eventually expand to jaunts into neighboring towns, where we’d stop at places such as a monastery garden, a historic New England town green, and see beautiful green rolling hills and shoreline views along the way. It was during these rides we bonded.

My father is a very private man, and to be honest, there are things I probably still don’t know about him after all these years. However, he was full of wisdom and advice. On our scenic stops, we’d just take in the scene around us, and discuss with him what was going on in my life at the time. From school, to thinking of future careers, to lamenting being laid off from a job. He’d always lend an ear, and he’d never tell me what to do. While he’d provide his input, he ultimately wanted me to decide how I’d approach life. I always appreciated that he trusted my judgement.

In recent years time has played it’s cruel game of catching up to my father. Just several years ago we’d ride 40 and 50 mile rides together. Stopping as we always had to talk. Sadly, the past few years his physical decline has prevented him from riding much besides short jaunts. At first I was heartbroken, and I cut back on riding myself, feeling guilty pushing the pedals by myself, leaving him behind.

This year I accepted that perhaps I need to accept, as difficult as it is, that my father is not physically the same man he once was. I’ll always remember fondly the rides we shared. His encouragement and pride of me not just on the bike, but in life as well. I could never thank my father enough for the thirty years of cycling we shared.

I push the pedals alone, zipping down quiet residential streets, along the shoreline, and up hills surrounded in green, knowing my father would like me to continue. An activity that has always, and continues to give. One he wanted to share with me, which bonded us more strongly than anything else could.

Thank you dad.

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