Last night I called my dad to wish him a happy Father’s Day. He’s a big talker in person, but on the phone? Not so much. But this time he had a very important question: his bike saddle isn’t comfortable anymore, what kind do I recommend? I don’t think he was satisfied with my answer, which was to take the bike in to his local shop, show them his current saddle and how he sits on it and ask for a recommendation. Some bike expert I am.
But who am I to say what’s best for an 82 year old man on a 20 year old mountain bike?
In the tradition of Father’s Day stories, I could write about what a great dad he was growing up: how he pushed me to stretch my limits by bribing me to jump off the diving board with popsicles, and by slowly backing up as I anxiously swam into his open arms. I’m sure that helped make me who I am today and certainly came in handy the day I swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco. And I didn’t even get a popsicle that time.
But it’s what he does today that fills me with pride. Like how every time I go back to Louisiana he wants to go for a bike ride, whether it’s the heat of summer or chill of winter. Next time I visit he wants me to take him to a mountain bike park he read about in the newspaper. Apparently someone at church said it has easy trails.
While Dad rocks the pasture trail, I’m not so sure about the roots, ruts and mud found on dirt trails back home, much less the snakes, gators and biting insects. Not that Dad was ever afraid of wildlife. He’s no city slicker.
They say a girl chooses a husband who is the same kind of man as her father. If I look at my husband Dick, the resemblance is not immediate. Where my Dad is quick to act and impatient, Dick thinks before he acts and is methodical. What they have in common is their teasing sense of humor and their zest for an active life. And the way they both treat me with love and respect. That’s the most important lesson from my dad: that I deserve it.
They also share a love for riding with their daughters. Dick’s daughter Jana prefers running to bicycling, but she invited Dick out for a ride in Golden Gate Park last week. It had been years since they’d ridden together, but the smiles were still the same, even after 12 windy and somewhat hilly miles. Some things you never outgrow.
Jana was on the East Coast for wedding on Father’s Day, so Dick and I went out for a trail ride at a park that’s popular with families. That meant lots of “Happy Father’s Day!” greetings for all the dads out riding with their children of all ages, from toddlers to adults. Seeing a son in full mountain bike gear with his seventy-something dad toodling down the fire road made me miss my dad, and wonder where we’ll ride together next time.
Do you still bike with your dad? If so, what’s your favorite place to ride together? If not, where would you take him if you could?
P.S. To my bike expert friends: does anyone have a saddle suggestion for my dad? As you can see in the pictures, he tends to sit forward on his saddle, which is on the wide side. Would narrower be better?