Tour de Meak

Sure the cyclists in the Tour de France are unbelievable athletes, able to climb mountains at breakneck speeds for miles and miles, but I’ll be following my own little cyclists, including one who’s sporting her own yellow jersey, Mizzou style.

At the finish line

Having three kids means at any given time one kid is outgrowing something, which will be passed down to the next kid. That happened this weekend with bicycles. It’s hard to believe, but Olivia is now in an adult sized bike. Well, maybe it shouldn’t be all that hard to believe considering she almost wears the same size shoe as me and has crazy long legs anyone would envy. (me included)

With Olivia sporting a new bike, Erin moved into Olivia’s old bike, which was a big jump for both of them. Up until now Erin only used pedal brakes and her bike had one speed. Now she has hand breaks and seven speeds. Given she was navigating a new bike and learning to use hand brakes and gears, you’d think we’d go out for a nice leisurely flat ride. Nope.

We are lucky enough to live in a place where cycling is taken seriously. Very seriously. Virtually every Sunday a beautiful stretch of road is shut down to cars for bicycle Sunday. It’s beautiful, but hilly. Let’s just say Erin was less than confident about using the hand brakes down the hills. On the first two hills either the husband or I walked next to her while she made her way very s l o w l y down said hills. There were tears and protests. I was beginning to think this would be a cycling fail outing.

At this point, I told Olivia she could bike ahead of us. She did. A few minutes later, I decided to catch up to her, which took me way longer than expected. Let’s just say there was not a big learning curve from her previous kid bike. Olivia was a cycling machine, making her way up some pretty big hills and not even breaking a sweat.

By the time we made it back to Erin and the husband, who was pulling Carrie in a chariot, it appeared our middle child had made a breakthrough with the hand brakes. She had dried her tears and although she was not yet smiling, she didn’t exactly look unhappy. We also took a rest stop at a pretty cool location, the Alameda De Las Pulgas Water Temple.

After this pit stop, we met up with my friend and her son, which allowed Olivia to have a biking buddy.

Biking Buddies

They had such a good time they decided to continue on, while the rest of us stopped at around 8 miles. By the end of the ride, Erin was rocking the hills, both uphill and down, and didn’t even really complain until the final uphill, which she said was “exhausting.”

We met up with Olivia and my friend at a local grocery store, where we found my friend patching up Olivia’s left knee and right elbow with a couple of band-aids. It turns out she hit a patch of uneven road and took a spill. Shockingly, Olivia was the picture of calm, no tears, no freak out moment. I guarantee if it happened on my watch, she would have been bawling. So while it may have traumatized my friend, better her than me.

Once back at her house, the husband put on some neosporin and a new band-aid, which didn’t go over too well with Olivia.

Ouch!

I can’t say I really blame her ’cause it is a pretty nasty road rash. To her credit though, she says she’s ready to get back on her saddle and ride again.

Not to be outdone by her sisters, Carrie decided she was ready to ride her own big girl bike. Well, technically it was Olivia’s, then Erin’s, and now the Schwinn Stardust is all hers. It does come with training wheels, but since she’s been gliding on her balance bike for the last six months or so,

we figured we could try it sans training wheels.

No Training Wheels!

And by golly it worked! The 4-year old was riding on her own for a good couple of seconds. She did way better than either of her sisters the first time they tried riding without training wheels. I’d like to credit my bike teaching skills for her impressive ride, but I’m pretty sure the balance bike was key. Had it not been so late in the day, we would have done what we’ve done with the other two kids and taken her to a local school where there’s plenty of space.

Since time was not on our side, we just went up and down our block for as long as our backs would hold out, which was not all that long.

I’m quite confident she’ll be cruising all on her own within days.

Once she’s got her biking legs and balance, we’ll try a longer ride, but we’re not stupid. We won’t be doing the same ride we did today. The next Tour de Meak will be a nice short and simple flat ride.

To say I was proud of the three girls would be an understatement. All of them surpassed my wildest expectations with their cycling accomplishments today. Olivia can more than hold her own with us, and for her to power through her fall and still come away with a positive experience is beyond impressive. Erin, through sheer determination mastered a new and difficult bike. And Carrie, well Carrie holding her own and working as hard as she can to keep up with her big sisters.

It was a great and momentous day I know I won’t soon forget and I hope the girls don’t either.

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