Sunday, May 23, 2010

That's one small climb for Paul and one giant leap for seven year old kind.

I finish repairing my mountain bike  in the cool mountain air among the tall pines in our campground.  I don my biking sandals and helmet and am off to ride up to Pioneer pass,  just under a mile away.  A mere trifle I believe.  At the first bend I am into the granny gear and aside from a short flat spot,  that is where I will stay.   I am climbing a 7% grade and wondering how far it is to the cattle guard.   I am starting to perspire.  I am also starting to suck in the mountain air with an unabated thirst.  There are people shooting up ahead and as I approach I see they are shooting into the hill to the east of the creek.  Around another corner I see a steep hill.  Yes,  I am at 7% and am looking at noticeably steeper road.   As I attack the hill I am struggling to push the granny gear which is mountain gearing.  It is 15% and it holds it the rest of the way to the top.  Just under a mile indeed,  but what a mile.  I stand to give my legs some relief and my back tire starts to spin out on the dirt so it is back into the saddle again.  Soon after I am recovering my breath and viewing Mt. Lemmon far away to the south,  I can just make out Pusch Ridge  (spelling?) on the end of it.  Not wanting to leave my kids with the good folks that were camping with us for too long I am soon bombing down the road,  wary of sliding and going down.

At the parking lot some of our friends are taking off.  My older son asks me what I did and when I tell him he asks if he can do it.  I tell him no way, it's way to steep but he is undaunted.  The lady who used to hold the jump rope for the kids on the playground when he was in kindergarten tells me not to understimate him as She reminds me of the time he about made her arm fall off and all the other kids give up waiting for the jump rope as he did 200 consecutive turns until they had to kick him off to let some other kids on.  I am persuaded.

I am eager to see at what point he turns around.  We ride the first part of the hill and he needs to walk a short steep spot at the beginning but he is back on and keeping up with me.   We cruise across the flat spot and are soon into the 7% section and he is doing it!  On he rides.   He takes a short break at one point but then is at it again,  pumping his legs,  standing and dancing on the pedals he works his way up the hill.  I haven't seen him like this since a 5k we ran a few years back.  He is determined.  At the bottom of the steep section he takes a short break.

We attack the hill.  Together pushing up the hill,  he stands for a bit but his tires too are slipping despite his lighter weight.  On we press.   He stops for a moment in the 15% section but I push him to help him start and he is off!  After a lung busting final effort we are on top and staring across the purple mountain majesty.  We turn to go back and he pauses a moment but soon is working his way slowly down the road.  We are heading back to camp at what I think is a slow rate but soon that definition will be changed.

At camp I proudly proclaim him to be  "The Man" and my friend's son suddenly is interesting in manning up the pass.  I look at my watch,  it is getting late and we need to be off but I think we have time for one more.  As we leave my other son wants to go (and seeing as the other kid was riding his bike he probably had a right to)  I tell him we'll take him next (one needs to be mindful of the things they commit to).

Arizona Black Rattlesnake

It is not far and my friend's kid is taking a walking break.  He takes a lot of breaks.  During one of our walking breaks we see a large Arizona Black rattlesnake lying straight as a stick in the road.  He is beautiful and just over a yard long.  He has a thick strong body and a very pronounced arrow shaped head.  I think he is dead but you can never tell so I tell the kids to give good clearance on the other side of the road.  As I pass he wags his tongue at me.  Apparently he is not dead but merely disinterested.  It is a nice warm day in the sun down on the ground.  Above though we are starting to get wind.

I am pleased to note that my friend's kid actually climbed a lot more of the last hill than I had thought he would yet I am waiting at the top for them.  Joseph is doing really well considering this is #2!  We see the view,  yada, yada, yada.   I try to get them to ride across the large widely spaced scary cattle guard but they won't.  Then we turn around.

The kid stares at the hill.   He is contemplating.  He is not used to handbrakes and quite frankly a coaster brake would get you seriously hurt going down this thing.   We try a short stretch but he stops and won't go further.   I loosened the brakes a bit so his fingers could get around them better and I instruct him not to let go of them,  just squeeze and let off a bit when you want to go faster or slower.   We move on and he tenderly inches down the hill.   It is slow going as he drags his toes on the road and clutches the brakes.  We are also careful to watch out for the snake.  We get back to camp eventually without seeing him so he must have wisened up about lying in the road.

My friend says that he is heading out now and I can't leave my daughters alone so my remaining son is dissappointed.  On seeing this and hearing that his daughter wants to try it on my daughter's bike he says he'll stay just a little longer and we are off.  She walks quite a bit too but we work our way up.  There are more cars now so it is good our friend the black snake is gone.  The wind is really blowing now.  My younger son is complaining a bit but he presses forward as I encourage him.  I thought he would have turned back by now (he is AD/HD).  At the final hill my older son tells him you have to attack it and I smile a bit as he hops onto the bike and pedals it most of the way up with a short break on the really steep bit.

My friends daughter has the same reaction to the hill as her brother did when she turns around.  At this point both of my son's are raring to go.  After a bit of encouragement she is carefully descending and we get back but as my son follows me through the woods by our camp he hits a rock and goes over the bars with the bike landing on his face.  Fortunately it's just a scratch on his eyelid and a cut on his arm. 

It's now time to pack up the camper and the bikes and my friend takes off to drive up to the pass and then home.  His two kids no doubt are bragging to the others I am sure as the van's engine whines and moans up to the pass.  They've earned it.   My sons are not bragging as we go down the mountain.  In fact the older one is fast asleep within minutes.  He's earned it.

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