The author, jumping over his big brother on his first bike. Circa '87.
I am one of those lucky people who can say they've got really cool parents. I don't mean cool as in let-me-do-whatever-I-wanted-and-bought-me-anything-I-wished-for, but cool as in raised me with just the right mix of tenderness and force, instilled in me genuine compassion, a strong work ethic, and a desire for knowledge and understanding of the way things work.
My parents are, in no small part, the reason for my present and ongoing interest in bikes and bicycle riding. They were the ones who got me my first bike (a looptailed Mongoose with fiberglass rims and a coaster brake), taught me how to fix it, and most importantly, understood when I came home, long after dark, covered in road rash and dirt, with a huge smile on my face.
If they had known that 25 years later, that utter stoke that I felt in those early years would translate into months spent on the road with no mode of immediate contact, to scarred hands and carpal tunnel from wrenching, to hours spent pedaling along tiny country roads with traffic zipping by mere inches from my handlebars, to a profession that will never, ever make me into a wealthy man, would they still have bought me that first bike?
You bet they would, because even today they see it on my face, hear it in my voice when we talk on the phone. The pride I take from finishing a Brevet, or finishing in the top ten at a cross race, after finishing a new frame, or just after a particularly enjoyable ride, and maybe somewhere through it all they can still see that bleeding, dirty, stoked little kid, trying to sneak back into the house long after dark, knowing full-well that he'll be in big trouble, but still grinning ear-to-ear.
So today, I thank you, Mom, for raising me right, for getting me my first bike, and for putting up with everything that that has led to over the years.
Happy Mother's day.