My husband is not a complicated man. He needs water (often), food (oftener), and sex (oftenest). But even more than the desire to quell the hormones that frequently control every cell in his body (“But I have the DSB! This poison is going to kill me!”), he wishes for a friend who shares his passion for cycling.
He has been a lover of the biking since he was a young boy growing up in West Virginia. Legend (or the stories that Sheepdog and his mom tell me) has it that he built his first bike ramp, Evel Knievel-style, when he was just three years old. Many years and multiple emergency room visits later, he has established a zeal for the two-wheeled vehicles that rivals Voldemort’s compulsion to kill Harry (side note: in honor of the eighth and final Harry Potter film’s release on July 15th, I plan to put at least one reference to the books and or movies into each post from now until next Friday – you’re welcome).
Over the years he has read, watched, wanted to be, tried, studied, followed, traveled to watch a stage of, or participated in the following: VeloNews, Cycling magazine, Bicycling magazine, Bike magazine, any and every book on cyclists or cycling, countless shows on OLN and Versus, live bike race streams on the internet, a bike messenger, a bike commuter, a bike mechanic, a bike salesman, taking apart and putting back together his own bike – both out of curiosity and necessity, daredevil stunts on bikes not limited to BMX-style tricks with pegs at indoor/ outdoor ramp parks, mountain biking, mountain bike racing (both in good weather and in the unholy desert heat and/or the pouring rain and/or the freezing snow), road cycling – solo, road cycling – club, triathalons, track cycling, criterium, time trials, the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, the Tour of California, the Tour of Georgia, the 24 Hours of Canaan, the Six Gap Century, the Tour of the California Alps – Death Ride, and the Leadville 100 – just to name a few.
No, cycling is certainly not just a hobby for him. It is a part of his heart and soul. If he is not on the internet looking at pictures of starlets in bikinis or their up-skirt shots, then he is surely looking at the newest in bike technology – frames, gears, suspensions, drivetrains, forks… whatever. Either that, or he is on craigslist or eBay to see which of those is for sale, “just out of curiosity” (trust me, I’ve had to enforce a budget).
And as a human being it stands to reason that Sheepdog just wants to find camaraderie and share his excitement with other cycling enthusiasts. I’ve tried to fill that role. I really did. I have watched countless stages of the Tour (I love Phil Liggett but I’d happily push Bob Roll off of the Col du Granon), I have attended countless races (or “Hippie-Freak-Love-Ins” as I also refer to them), and even tried riding myself (it hurts my butt and I tend to break the bikes – I once broke a derailleur just by pedaling). “Trying” now consists mostly of me defending Lance (getting harder and harder every time 60 Minutes gets involved) and making fun of the costumes that the cyclists wear (really, there is nothing less flattering than a pair of bike shorts, except maybe biking bibs).
So it is a good thing that Sheepdog has all of these kids. He is hoping against all hope that at least one of them will share his fanaticism for biking. But so far, he is 0 for 3. People-pleaser Kid A really tried to get into it (she even contributed to buying her own mountain bike that they found together on craigslist), but it just didn’t stick. Kid B doesn’t like to try anything new, so she didn’t even fake an attempt. Kid C says she will surely ride with him, but she has yet to hop in the saddle.
If you are keeping count, that just leaves the two boys. As it happens, Kid D – even at six-years-old – often butts heads with his father. Sheepdog has been trying unsuccessfully to get him to take off the training wheels for years. Sheepdog’s seemingly casual pleas of, “Wanna go for a bike ride?” are often met with disinterested grunts from Kid D, “…um, nah.” I keep seeing his heart getting crushed a little bit more with every negative response. Until the other day.
One of the greatest things about my parents’ house here in New Jersey is the isolation of the very flat street out front. Nobody else lives and therefore drives back here, so the kids have been able to ride their bikes undisturbed for countless hours. That has led to a peak in Kid D’s bike riding confidence and a request out of the blue to remove his training wheels.
Sheepdog was remarkably calm and reserved (I presume because he has had his heart broken thrice already) as he got his tools. He casually handed the bike – sans supports – back to Kid D, showed him how to set up the pedals for maximum push-off power, and gave him the go ahead signal to take off. Kid D took to riding a bike like a Kardashian to professional ball players, and even the classically pragmatic Sheepdog couldn’t help but whoop and cheer aloud.
In twenty years I have never seen my husband smile the way he does when Kid D now asks him, “Hey, daddy – wanna go for a bike ride?”
Except for the other day when he asked, “Hey daddy – you wanna watch the Tour?”
Wish me luck for tomorrow…