Friday, June 10, 2011

Bike Camp: Day 5 (Run, Forrest, Run)

John woke up on Day 5 keyed up. He was anxious to go to his last day of bike camp. He wanted to see his favorite new friend and wanted to ride his own bike. He was clumsy and speaking fast and a little impulsive.

He marched confidently into the gym and mounted his new bike while it was steadied for him. He promptly hopped off and grabbed his crotch in a most dramatic and graphic way. Some adjustments were made and he tried again, each time raising off the seat and adjusting his privates.

I could see the change in his face. His love for his bike was changing with each lowering of his body onto the bike. But his entourage, once again, pulled it out and he was happily walking his bike to the parking lot. By the time I got outside, I could tell he was frustrated. His bike was a little bigger and heavier than the one he had used for the last two days.

He was having difficulty starting, stopping, wobbling and sitting on the silly seat. One of his faithful volunteers had the idea to run inside and get a gel seat cover to make it softer. John was willing to try again though he was quick to tell me he hated his new bike. He kicked it a few times and tried to ride again.

Things went passably for a few minutes when I noticed three people in yellow shirts running across a large field. UH-OH! John had taken off. It was reminiscent of Forrest Gump. I wondered if he would ever stop. Further, I marveled at his amazing speed and coordination. He unfastened his helmet and threw it to the ground without slowing. My son who normally runs clumsily and heavy-footed, with his head down and his arms straight to his sides was loping across the field, head up, arms pumping. Two tall teenage boys were full out in pursuit and not particularly gaining on him.

I suffered indecision. Do I intervene? Do I let him run until he loses steam? Do I call off the boys and hope that when he isn't being chased that he'll stop panicking and stop a safe distance away (like he usually does) until he is ready to return? At last it looked like his energy was flagging and the boys were starting to close the gap. He turned and planted him self resolutely facing a brick wall and standing between two tall bushes.

The boys greeted him warmly, albeit somewhat breathlessly, and congratulated him on how wonderful and amazing he'd been doing. I think they were also impressed and quite surprised at his running ability. His new friend, fellow camper, came over and was trying to encourage him. The two of them moved off as John was no longer running but still putting as much distance between himself and his confounded new bike.

He went to the gym and locked himself in the boys bathroom. They have staff members just for occasions such as this. Andrea showed up and had a list of solutions to the problems that John had been having. After a great deal of coaxing John came out of the bathroom and spoke to Andrea. As he had calmed to a certain extent, I realized my presence might add to his stress so I returned to the parking lot to let her work her bike training magic.

Finally, they showed up in the parking lot, donned helmets and went back to work. She showed him a new kind of start, called a "power start" which would keep the pedals from hitting him on the ankles. They practiced starting and stopping on his bike and at last he was out making his volunteers chase his blue and chrome streak all over the place.

He even fell at one point, entangling his bike with his 16-year-old victim. We all held our breath waiting for him to bolt. He sucked it up and got right back up on the horse, so to speak. He ended on a high note and we went inside to watch a wonderful slide show of all the successes the campers had this week and to watch them receive gilded bicycle trophies.

Chattanooga Bike Camp works miracles! See ya on the trails!

Bike Camp: Day 1
Bike Camp: Day 2
Bike Camp: Day 3
Bike Camp: Day 4


  1. Wonderful!!! I'm so happy for you, John :)

  2. Way to go John! So happy for all of you.