My youngest has just learned to ride her bike. She became independent of her training wheels on July 4th. How apt.
I view this momentous achievement with mixed feelings. I am pleased because, at last, we are able to go on family bike rides without tears of frustration when training wheels get stuck in mud or spin uselessly in graveled ruts on the trails. But I am sad because the last of my babies is growing up. Today no need of training wheels, tomorrow no need of Mummy.
To celebrate her new found freedom, we went for a bike ride. Me and three of the girls; Rebecca racing fearlessly along on her little green bike, legs peddling furiously, a smile of utter joy on her gap-toothed face, her big sisters grinning indulgently. We rode far into the woods, and explored the creek, catching fish and salamanders in the net, plopping them into a little bucket. The fish we let go, the memories we'll keep forever.
And that short outing reminded me of how much I like to ride my bike. It also reminded me of how unfit I am.
Once I got to thinking along those lines, I found myself pondering how much Bonehead Billy wold love to run. Really run!
So this morning, I put on my helmet, clipped the leash to Billy's collar, told my daughter not to look so worried and headed out.
As soon as Billy began to grow into his long legs, we knew we had a problem. No way could we give him the exercise he needs with just a couple of 2 mile walks a day. But that, along with ball and Frisbee throwing in the yard, is what he has been getting.
I had thought in the past how fantastic it would be to bike with Billy, but had never had the nerve. He's still not particularly reliable on the leash and tends to lunge enthusiastically after other dogs, people, and any animal or bird we see when out on walks.
Today Billy and I experienced a revelation. We had FUN! Once we had sorted out who was in charge(ME!), and once Billy had decided where he was going to be (at the side of the bike. Not in front. Not behind) we reached respectable speeds.
It was wonderful to hear the clip of his nails and the jingle of his collar tags as he cantered beside me. And occasionally I felt almost relaxed enough to glance down and he looked happy. Tongue lolling, ears flapping: poetry in motion.
The run was not without incident. At first, every bush, fire hydrant and mail-box was seen as a potential landscape for Billy's personal brand of irrigation. And the gardens and flower-beds were wafting tantalizingly tempting aromas of cat, squirrel and "other dog" into the path of his hyper sensitive nostrils. But after a while, the feel of the wind in his ears more than compensated for all his usual doggy outing stuff.
A couple of times I had to stop to let another dog pass. Billy was his usual "I must bark and growl menacingly at this impostor" self; practically garroting himself in frenzied attempts to get at any canine who thinks he possesses equal rights to the trail... Once past these distractions, he ran happily on, nose pointing forward, tail up, smiling his wide-mouthed doggy smile.
And I wouldn't have fallen off. I truly believe I wouldn't, if Billy hadn't seen the cat. Our cat, Lucky. Billy's friend and co-eater-of-all-leftovers-and-as-much-of-Addie's-food-as-they-can-scoff-down-before-she-notices. Lucky was under the van. He emerged to greet Billy, and Billy lunged. The ground came up to meet me in an inevitable fashion. I decided to let the leash go, thus saving myself from any serious tarmac burns. the bruise on my knee and the scrape on my knuckle are enough of a reminder that, while riding a bike with Billy may be exhilarating,it can also be dangerous. But I'm keen to do it again!
- I have been married to Andy since 1991, we have 4 daughters, 2 dogs, 2 cat, 4 rabbits (and various baby rabbits) and a hamster (not dead). We have lived in the U.S.A since 2000, and are citizens of the U.K. I miss many things about the U.K.(pubs, old buildings, red post boxes, church bells,narrow roads, a good joint of roast lamb with mint sauce, to name but a few) but I have grown to love the U.S.