I Can Ride That

I stress about what I write. Not the topics, but the word count, the frequency, the quality. I lie—I stress about the topics, too. I joined a writers’ group on Facebook—Authors with Tourette Syndrome. “Authors.” Stretching? Aspirational? I’m more comfortable with the generic term writer. Author implies output, something published. That’s not me, barely.

I brought this on myself. In a different Tourette group, I posted a link to a virtual reading. “Nine authors, including me, are reading Monday night…” Right there, I called myself an author. No wonder I received an invite to the authors group. Now I feel pressure to produce.

This month is miserable. Work, coaching, a backlog of great books to read. I can’t carve out the time to write. Add in the Olympics. On Saturday, Sophie laid out our options. “The best deal is Hulu Live. We can watch or record anything we want.” It’s only sixty dollars. Not much money for a world class event that hasn’t happened for five years. We signed up. Instead of writing, I’m watching TV.

Monday night was my only free time this week. The rest of the week looks like this:

Tuesday night: Coach
Wednesday night: Work
Thursday night: Coach
Friday night: Work
Saturday all day: Work, then coach, then work
Sunday: Go to the beach

Sophie, at dinner on Monday: “Hey I recorded the men’s cross country mountain bike race today!” So much for Monday night. I coach a mountain bike team, Eli’s mountain bike team, although Eli isn’t riding. He broke his pelvis in June, and while it’s healing quickly, he isn’t ready to ride trails. A fall might send him back to ground zero.

Last year, “coaching” meant making sure no one got left in the woods. I dawdled behind the kids at an easy pace, usually much slower than I wanted to go. The term is sweeper (I sweep up the remnants). “Jeff, sweep the ‘Green’ team.” The Greens are the high school riders; the Reds are the stronger middle schoolers. Magically, this year I’ve become the lead coach of the Reds. I guess I’m a little more experienced this year—still, this feels like a stretch. I plan the focus areas for practice, the drills, I lead rather than follow. This year, coaching has become a big deal.

Monday night, while watching the mountain bike race instead of writing, Eli started in with his ‘I can ride that’ patter. Whenever we’re out hiking, and we happen on an absurd part of the trail—a cliff (up or down) a thin ledge, a twelve-inch-wide bridge, Eli will say “I can ride that.” When we sit down to stream Red Bull Valparaíso Cerro Abajo—a downhill urban mountain bike race that plunges down staircases, across roof tops, and over jumps gapping entire streets, Eli says “I can ride that.”

The Olympic course featured stacks of huge boulders to ride over or jump off. Steep climbs that seemed to go on forever, long jumps that landed at the start of a turn. The race left me white knuckled, gripping the edge of the couch, exclaiming “oh brother” over and over. Eli, clearly missing his mountain bike, simply said “I can ride that.”

Tuesday night at practice, I took the Reds on the hairiest part of our practice course. Inspired by the gnarliness of the Olympic race, I decided to stop coddling the kids. We rode a deep, dry, wash, rounded at the bottom, steep on both sides. It’s actually easy to ride through but it looks scary as hell. After walking through the gully, talking about the best line to enter and exit the streambed, each kid took a turn, riding it forwards and back. Mixed results. Most of the kids had trouble riding up the steep bank exiting the gully, but one after another, they plunged down the decline without hesitation. If they were terrified, they kept it to themselves.

Eli is now spending his days completing the exercises assigned by the physical therapist. This includes a short, daily bike ride. He’s walking without crutches, without pain. It shouldn’t be too much longer before he can rejoin practice. Something to look forward to: he and I decided it makes the most sense for him to ride with the Reds on his initial outings while he tests out his joint. I get to ride with my son.

In the meantime, Eli’s “I can ride that” bravado is just a good way for him to feel like he’s still in the game. I can’t imagine his disappointment as I head out for two-hour practices three times a week. When he comes back to practice, I’ll be sure to lead the Reds through that gully. Even for skilled riders, the first time through inspires a momentary ‘holy shit’ response. But as he watches the Reds, many of them first year riders, drop down the bank, one after another, he’ll know that unlike all the crazy crap we see on TV, this one, he can ride.

19 thoughts on “I Can Ride That

  1. I feel your pain! These kids have my schedule completely booked. I can keep up with reading blogs, but an idea really has to stand out for me to write about it only because I know it will be an easy write. Exploring ideas right now feels impossible but I hope to do that more when the school year starts. Word count and quality are definitely things I stress about as well.
    It is good to hear that Eli is feeling better and will be back on his bike soon. Gosh, to be young again and to feel that confidence! Good for him.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I admire your commitment to coaching, and I wish you and the riders a successful season.

    I have not watched any of the mountain bike riding; your skill as an author now makes me ant to. Hopefully I haven’t missed it all…

    Good luck with your son’s recovery as well…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad Eli is mending well, and congrats on the bump up in coaching.
    I’m not watching Olympics. We have all the streaming services, but I can’t even get through a movie without nodding off😂

    I’ve never even thought about word count. But I have no claims to “writer” and definitely not “author”.
    Blogger works for me. It’s general and means whatever we want it to mean.

    Your posts are always a great read, whenever, and whatever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Angie. Hopefully the rest of my family is watching because I’ve only watched two hours. Not a very good return for my $60. Actually, I think Sophie is watching too much so we’re getting our money’s worth for sure.

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  4. That sounds like a really fun race to watch, guess I’ll find it later on youtube. Been working lates this week as well.

    Is time passing very fast or has Eli healed super quickly? I’m so impressed that he can ride a bike again already, after a broken pelvis no less, ow.

    Maybe you’ll find more time to write after the cycling season is done, I’m happy we still get the blog. Hope you enjoy the busy summer. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree, he’s healed really quickly. Kids! I’d still be in the hospital. I noticed a big slow down in my blogging last year during the season. Actually my reader is pretty much empty most days. I’m seeing a big slow down in the blogs I follow. Maybe everyone is timing-out.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I like Eli. That’s what I do on hikes too…look at rocks and decide if I can ride them. That olympic xc course is definitely within reach.. If all those lycra-clad folks on short travel bikes can maneuver the features at speed, they are probably rideable features at slower pace for the rest of us mere mortals. I imagine coaching is incredible satisfying. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I think there might be a gap between you and me on the mortal-continuum, but I get your point. A friend pointed out that the rocks on the course are all rounded, and therefore ridable, compared to the jagged tombstones we’re used to navigating. Like everything else, coaching is a mixed bag. Sometimes I love it, other times (like last night) I really struggle through it and wonder why I put myself in such uncomfortable situations — social anxieties, autistic tendencies and all.

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  6. I feel sorry for Eli… I know sometimes we get so much obsesses with the word count. But I think one should write only when he feels like but not out of pressure, that will give a good outcome.. loved your post

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So sorry to read about Eli’s injury! I hope “he can ride that” along with you soon.

    Speaking from experience, don’t stop writing!!! I did and now I can’t get back in the habit again. Our summer is crazy. We visited our families in Oregon (2 weeks), then Colorado (2 weeks). Next week, Bill and I are going to Alaska for the first time. I can’t get back in a regular writing routine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome back. Just the other day I was wondering if you were still traveling with the jet set (grandmothers). He has an appointment on Friday. We really hope he gets a green light to start riding again. Have a great time in Alaska. I wish you abundant sunshine.

      Liked by 1 person

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