Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Guess What We Did on Sunday?

Despite having bought the bike rack for our van last summer, this was the first time we actually loaded up the bikes and took the kids on a mountain bike trail. Daddy Shortbread had heard of a bike trail up in Carabassett Valley that ran along the bed of an old narrow gauge railway. The trail is thirteen miles long, which we thought the girls could easily handle, since the loop we often ride through our neighborhood is four miles long. We didn't mention to them that the first 6.5 miles are uphill.

They figured it out pretty quickly, though. It was a very gentle but steady uphill grade. At times it got slightly steeper, but was easily ride-able if you geared down. Bear loved it right from the get-go and shot easily to the front of the pack. We kept having to holler to her to SLOW DOWN FOR GOD'S SAKE, as she'd round a corner and go out of sight and every child abduction movie plot I'd every seen would begin to replay itself in my head.

Bug tended to lag behind, having inherited her mother's aversion to exercising on purpose. She did pretty well for the first mile or so. Then she began to take exception to the continued uphill riding.
I've mentioned, perhaps, Bug's tendency toward the dramatic? She required several wedgie-adjustment stops, numerous water stops, a something's-in-my-eye stop, and a bug spray stop (seen here).
As the path continued to climb, despite our "Yay, Bug! You're doing it!" encouragement and taking turns riding beside her, she began to droop and get teary.

We stopped beside the rushing brook to rest at a picnic table. I passed around granola bars, and she revived slightly. Until she realized that we were getting back on our bikes and continuing up the trail.
Around the four mile mark, Bug was getting increasingly cranky and beginning to look at me with enormous tear-filled brown eyes and quivering lip. She wasn't winded or incapable of finishing the trail, just irritated. I got off my bike and told her we'd walk a few yards, then I pulled out the big parenting guns, and shifted gears from ra-ra encouragement to Flat-Out Bribery.

"I'll tell you what, Bug," I said.

"What?" she asked, adding an exhausted sigh, probably hoping that I'd offer to sit with her while the others rode on.

"If you can finish the ride without any more complaining, I'll let you swim when we get home no matter what time it is."

I could see right away that she was intrigued. The lip quivering stopped as she considered. I had told them no swimming that day, since we'd be getting home in the evening.

"What if it's bedtime when we get home?" she asked.

"Even then. But you have to suck it up and finish the trail without complaining. Do we have a deal?"

She agreed. We solemnly fist-bumped to seal it, then got back on our bikes.

She mustered her strength and plugged along to the top. When she started to lag, I'd remind her of our deal, and she'd grit her teeth and continue. I was really proud of her.

Near the top of the trail, we passed this cool beaver pond and had to stop to investigate. The beaver's dam easily ran forty feet along the edge of the pond, and there were gnawed stumps everywhere alongside the trail. No sign of the beaver himself, though.
We were completely giddy when we reached the top of the trail. It was a happy, happy feeling knowing that the next six miles were going to be downhill.

Notice how Bear had to pull her trendy bangs out from under her bike helmet? This parenting a preteen thing is going to KILL me. On the other hand, my hair looks like a stringy/frizzy/helmet-y mess, so maybe she has a point. Through the trees, we got a peep at the Sugarloaf Ski Resort:
Here's Bug at the tippy-top of the trail, looking excessively proud, and rightly so. We knew she could do it. It took us an hour and forty minutes to pedal up the trail, and only thirty minutes to coast back down. Riding down was a giddy experience, tempered only by the number of bugs that committed suicide on my forehead as I zipped along. After awhile, I gave up being grossed out and began to take a perverse pride in it.

And, after all the fuss, Bug decided she didn't want to swim after all when we got home. Sometimes just the pride of accomplishment is enough after all.


smalltownmom said...

Gorgeous ride. I can't believe she didn't want to swim after that.

Jen on the Edge said...

Wow!!! What an impressive feat! I'm so proud of you all.

I haven't ridden a bike in decades, but I'm going today to look at one Pete found at the bike shop.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What a great ride. You have to train them young so they're fun when they get older.

Our annual vacation revolves around mountain biking--we love it.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Oh--it looks we drive the exact same Sienna too!

Grandma said...

Tell Bug, great job! Also, tell her since Grandma is short, I would have been pretty tired myself. So happy to see that Bear can be out and about, after her rough time with allergies this Spring. Great pictures and of course great scenery.

Daddy S. said...

You forgot to mention the perverse pleasure of getting dinner at a gas station - and that the bribe included swimming in your clothes - not easy to resist (I suppose).

Linda said...

Biking is a great form of exercise - I rode my bike a lot when I was younger. I'm glad to see both girls are enjoying riding.

Dinner at a gas station?? I'll bet that was a less-than-gourmet meal! :)