Nothing changes an outlook like victory!
Sunday, Father’s Day, a day both my children and I would like to sleep through, and instead we raced in a 25 mile urban assault of Charlotte NC on our bicycles and won the race. Jake, 7 years old, raced on a single speed 20” BMX bike. Abbey, John and I all had sufficient equipment, and many bikers commented on the aesthetics of my Electra Amsterdam, but no one saw us as competition. Neither did I really.
Saturday we packed the car and headed to Charlotte. We arrived at Brazzell’s bar for packet pickup about 15 minutes before it ended. There we made buttons, got backpacks and water bottles, and sent ourselves post cards. A fun detail of festival events is the free stuff. I’m very into Neoprene water bottles, recycling and creating less waste, so my favorite pick up in the free gear was the UAR water bottle. Jake seems to be a big fan of his pimp hat. Abbey wants my TShirt. I also grabbed a tube of Fat Tire chap stick every time I walked by that table.
I spent the rest of Saturday negotiating with Abbey and Jake. While I realized this was going to be very fun, I also knew that it would challenge my children’s physical and mental capabilities. At least once I said to Abbey that she would be rewarded greatly. I maybe promised her ice cream, a movie, and shopping if only she would compete with a good attitude. I of course knew that Abbey could do it and enjoy it, but it’s been a pattern in my house that if it’s something I want, no matter how much fun it is, Abbey and Jake complain about it the entire time. Ruiners is what I call them. In the end, they enjoy the event, kayaking with the dolphins, riding in some scenic location, hiking in the mountains to a waterfall, but they refuse to open their hearts to pure enjoyment. Finally at dinner Abbey said, “I’m just sayin… I’m actually looking forward to this, could you please stop.” The negotiating stopped, but I was not confident that good attitudes would follow us through this event.
Sunday morning, an early start. At 7 o’clock Jake and John donned their matching Mr. Blue Skyyyyy outfits, khaki cargo shorts and black dry fit shirts. Abbey and I, The Scene, decided against matching, and then when we saw the girls in the Wonder woman and Bat girl costumes at the event, we knew we had made the right choice. It was going to be 90+ degrees, so we went with tank tops and shorts.
Earlier in the week we received an email with clues and a quiz for start time leads. I took the quiz for both John & I and somehow, he got 2 points better than me on the test. So we took his stickers for our helmets and got a head start. Except we didn’t really. We waited for Bill & Kelly Platt and their family on their tandem bikes.
Bill and Kelly and their children didn’t register until the last minute. Only Bill and Mia registered as Planet Platt; Kelly rode with Mia (7) on a tandem and Bill carried their toddler Liam on his bike. Bill was going to be our fearless leader. And ultimately he did a good job jetting us around the city. But in the end when we won, I didn’t feel the least bit guilty about taking 1st and 2nd place while Platt planet was awarded third. I felt uncomfortable when Bill was trying to take extra prizes for his children at the sock table. I’m not really a rule follower, but I have respect for events like this.
The event took us around the outskirts of Charlotte to a number of physical and mental obstacles. We built a puzzle at the Common Market, we tossed newspapers at the Bike Source stop, we had a human bowling experience at Smelly Cat Coffee, with Abbey and Jake as the ball on a skate board, and we pushed them into the pins. We went down a water slide and swam a lap at Rays Splash Planet, in our clothes. John and Bill chased a man wearing an Afro and a Tutu around booty loop at Queens college, and we eventually caught him too. He said he liked my Electra. We played piggy back polo at the final common Market. And we found a bead at Abbey’s favorite statue in Charlotte at the Art museum. We raced bigwheels around a course and dove through a jump castle to the finish line. At the party Jake entered the mini bike limbo contest. Irony, only because one of his pre race complaints was he didn’t know if he could do this because he was very afraid of the mini bike limbo, what if he got hurt? He was the first person in line, and in the finals for the contest. My goal was to simply make it to all seven checkpoints in the allotted 3 hours.
While standing in the hot dog line, I heard my name called from the stage. Did he just say my name? Abbey came running from her rest position on the wall. “The Scene” he said; we won. As I walked to the stage, I was smiling, no, laughing, with giddiness. He kept calling names, Mr. Blueskyyyyy, Planet Platt. Now we were all laughing. We biked all over the city, had a great time, and won.
Once during the race, Bill’s son Liam, maybe 3 years old, said, Dad, look a comic book store, can we go there? Bill replied, no we are in a race. Later Mia, their 6 year old said, I have to pee. Bill asked, really bad, Mia replied, no not really bad. Bill said, hold it then, we’re in a race. The thing is, it never seemed like we were racing to me. It felt like we were riding, enjoying, competing with the ever approaching end time, but not racing.
After biking 25 miles, in the final event, while diving through a tube in a jump castle, I bent my thumb back and bruised it. Later while walking up the street to dinner, maybe slightly complaining about it, and also maybe mentioning that my legs felt like Jello and I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it to the movies, Jake gave me some of my own advice. It’s all in your head momma, if you think you can you will. Ouch. It’s working. They are listening.