took an awesome ride last friday. well, technically two fridays ago… couple old roads, couple new roads, nice scenery, wonderful weather. but what made this trip so great was i got to ride with my son. and he was beside me, not on the back!!!
day started out with a ride to shelton’s to pick up a buell blast. since it had been a few months since son had been on a bike, we spent a couple hours on their range before heading out on the open road.
we had an agreement that we would both have to be comfortable before hitting the road. being responsible for him, and knowing that i would have to answer to his mom should *anything* happen while we’re on the road, i figured we’d be spending a lot of time on the range.
we started out with the basics and built up from there. before leaving, i’m expecting him to practice and show proficiency in cornering, quick stops and swerves. two things really stood out while he was practicing: how quickly he would correct things he was doing wrong; how he would continue to practice a skill even after i was satisfied; and how beautiful some of his quick stops were – some of the best i’ve seen. okay, so that’s three!!!
while he was practicing his cornering, i told him that i was happy and he could move on when he was ready. i think he was really enjoying the cornering because he kept going ‘round and ‘round. i finally felt obligated to stop him and remind him that eventually we’d like to get out on the road!!!
he did happen to have one mishap… earlier in the day, i warned him about covering and applying the front brake while in a corner. i told him as a beginner, i’d prefer to see *not* use the front brake at all while in a corner – if, for whatever reason, he applied too much front brake, he would be down quicker than he knew what was going on.
sure enough, he was coming around a corner quicker than he wanted and applied too much front brake. bam!! he was down. i think the only thing, thankfully, that was hurt was his pride. we talked about what happened and why it happened. after that, he didn’t use the front brake unless his front tire was straight.
so now it was time to hit the open road. being his first time out, we stayed on mostly two lane, back roads. the plan was to leave durham and head to virgilina via creedmore and oxford.
we’re on the road and i’m watching him in my rear view. waiting for any sign that he’s nervous or having problems. but no sign of that. he’s maintaining a good distance behind me, negotiating curves with ease – looks like he’s doing well. looks like he’s having fun.
i start to relax a little, feeling comfortable with his riding. now i realize i’m starting to get hungry. i was so wrapped up in him getting out on the road (safely), i didn’t pay attention to the time. it’s way past lunch and i’m starving.
i scrap the plans to eat in virgilina and decide to stop at milano’s in oxford. we’ve been here before and know the food is good. if you’re in oxford, in the mood for some good food at a reasonable price, this is the place!!
after eating, we venture out again, heading up to virgilina. as we’re cruising along, i notice he trails off. i turn around and see him walking the bike to a pull-off. i pull up beside him and find out that he’s run out of gas. silly me. i asked the dealership how far the bike would go on a tank, never thinking to check how much gas was actually in the tank.
we flip the valve to reserve, chuckle at the fact that his first experience running out of gas is on his first ride and head to the nearest gas station. which, thankfully, is only a couple miles up the road.
we finally make it up to virgilina and stop for some refreshments. i explain to him that one of the problems with motorcycling is you always have to make decisions. like where to go next. i had originally planned to head west through roxoboro back to durham. but we were having an awesome ride and maybe we should head east, across the kerr dam and head back that way. it’s a beautiful day, he’s riding well and i think he’d enjoy the view across the dam. across the dam it is.
as we’re heading towards the dam, i’m watching him in the rear-view mirror, thinking how awesome it is to be riding my son. i’ve been looking forward to this day. and now it’s here. what a great feeling. i can only imagine (and hope) my father-in-law felt the same way the first time we rode together.
i’m wrapped up in the moment of riding with my son instead of watching for signs of distress from him. i realize i’m comfortable and confident in his riding. a wave of satisfaction comes over me. this is what riding is about.
we ride on, heading to the dam. we both agree that the twisty roads are a heck of a lot more fun than the straight ones. between here and the dam, we’re sure not to be disappointed.
we finally make it to the dam. a trip i’ve made many times. a trip he’s made many times on the back on my bike. as we’re crossing, i take note of the american flags hung on the dam in honor of independence day. the symbolism is not lost as i think of the independence my son’s gained learning to ride. i smile and look forward to many more rides like this…
unfortunately the day draws towards the end. we’ve had a great day, rode over a hundred fifty miles today. as the day is ending, i know we’re only at the beginning of riding together. he’s done very well today and i can’t wait to ride with him again. in fact, he’s already talking about riding the blue ridge parkway. sounds like i’ll have to arrange a trip with him and gramps…
here's the route we took - in light blue