You got to earn that downhill coast.

This week I took my oldest son on a 12 mile bike ride. It was miserably hot and we chose this route on a whim. What he didn’t expect was 6 miles of hill climbing. What I didn’t expect was that he would prove to be such a little badass.

He was enthusiastic to start, followed by trepidatious, overwhelmed, exhausted and angry. About 4 miles in he gassed out. That was my bad for challenging him to tackle a particularly gruesome hill at top speed. He couldn’t catch his breath and his face was beet red. This was to be his defining moment and so I knew better than to persuade him one way or the other. What I did was explain that we could either climb for another two miles to the halfway point where it was all downhill, or turn back immediately. He took a moment before deciding to push forth. How he did it though was what impressed me the most; I saw the fire in his eyes. He wanted to turn back so bad but he knew that it would be a waste of all the work he had just put in. So push forth we did. And we saw this sweet dead rattle snake.

We had to walk a couple stretches of steep hill, but he was back on two wheels as soon as he could handle it. In fact he was handling himself so well that I didn’t think to offer him any advice past “keep your wheels straight.” When we crossed the first cattle guard. In retrospect I should have told him to not stop on the cattle guard, which he did; which meant that when he set his foot down that he fell into the cattle guard.

I thought for sure that he broke his leg. I imagined the wrath of my wife and how she wouldn’t let us ride bikes anymore. I said a bad word, dropped my bike and ran back to fish him out of the cattle guard. He was fine. Like I said, he’s a little badass.

From that point on it was pretty uneventful. We high fived at the top of the loop, enjoyed the easy coast downhill and got some grocery store sushi to celebrate.

We were both pretty tired by the end but it was the good tired, the earned tired. I am still just beyond impressed by the tenacity he demonstrated. He earned that downhill coast. He also earned my respect.