Friday, July 9, 2010

Teaching My Teens How to Cycle

I recently taught my teens how to ride bikes. No, it wasn’t their first time on two wheels. What I meant to say was that I taught them how to cycle on road bikes like Tour de France cyclists use. We climbed some hills. We screamed down a mountain. My kids’ reaction?

They loved it.

We rented high-end road bikes from the Stanford bike shop. I showed my daughter how much my credit card would be charged if, for some reason, her bike didn’t make it back to the shop: $2,200. Yeah, it was a nice bike. Ultra-light titanium frame, racing wheels, Shimano gears. My son’s bike was nearly as nice, and just as fast.

We piled the rental bikes along with my Bianchi into the back of my daughter’s truck, then drove to the town of Woodside. We did a few mile warm-up on our way to the Santa Cruz mountains, then climbed Old La Honda road up to Alice’s restaurant.

The Old La Honda climb is tough. It gets very steep in some places. I can do the climb in around 30 minutes. I’ve seen amateur racers do it in 19. I figure Lance Armstrong and crew can shoot up it in 15. My kids and I did it in 45 - it was tough! (Hats off to my children for making it. Can we get one of the Tour podium girls to award a jersey, or something?)

Partway up, both of my kids were complaining about the difficulty of the climb. My reaction? I laughed my ass off. (They’ve given me so much grief over the years for not having perfectly flat abs, this was my payback.)

I also gave them climbing tips: sit back on the seat, lift with the knees (they had pedal clips), pull back on the handlebars to provide tension, keep the gear low and the cadence high.

Lunch at Alice’s was great – 1/3 pound burgers and chili fries, all around. (And no embarrassing hottie cyclist pickup attempt.)

We continued our ride to Kings Mountain Road. The climb from Alice's wasn’t as steep as Old La Honda, but it went on forever. All three of us were tired, especially with lunch in our bellies. But once we got there, we were in heaven – we descended for probably 15 minutes, passing through a canopy of Redwoods and Pines all the way down into Woodside.

Of course, I schooled my kids on the safe way to descend: weight on your pedals, not your seat or arms. If your turning left, put the right pedal down, and lean into the turn. Hold your hands in the horns of the handlebars so they can’t slip off.

After ice cream bars at Roberts Market, we pedaled a final quarter mile back to the truck. All in all, it was a twenty mile loop.

And already my kids are asking – when can we do it again?


Rob said...

That is awesome. My son always want to go with me when I ride but since he is only 7 not sure he can hang for the 20-30 mile ride. That is cool you and your kids got to experience that together. Souds fun.

Nicki said...

Wow. I can't see me doing that ever. (Okay, the Alice's restaurant part, but not the rest...) So glad your kids have a dad like you to give them such awesome experiences.

tracy said...

hey dave!


i'll be doing my first double-century in one day (!) on the Seattle-to-Portland (STP) ride on the 17th. afterwards, i'll be heading to the bay area. if i'm not completely fried, we should ride! i so miss riding in the hills and redwoods of the bay area!


Donda said...

Just found your blog from someone else's blogroll. I just got lost for the past 20 minutes reading your stuff. I like the way you write!

Keith Wilcox said...

Some of those road bikes are crazy high tech machines. My buddy is a big time cyclist and he's always talking about getting another few grams lighter in the pedals or crank or some such nonsense. Well, we get on the road together and it's just embarrassing. He has to crawl along with me because I can't keep up! :-)It's not that I'm not in good shape, I'm just not in good biking condition. Crazy.

Anyway, glad to hear to had a good time. I take it the bike made it back to the shop?

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