Back From the Valleys

My BikeWe got back from the Sonoma and Napa Valley cycling trip on Thursday– after finishing up the 1400 mile “road trip” part of the excursion. Unlike last year, the weather this year was about perfect– sunny and warm for nearly all of the days, and not a drop of rain on us while camping or riding.

The trip was far from perfect, however. We did have two injuries from simple accidents, one on the bike and one off. The group of students were very good riders, however, and their cycling abilities were really impressive. They improved with every ride.

During the trip, one of the the other adults leaders told me about an organized ride of about 1500 miles he did with his son who is in high school. The kids, as young as 13, did multi-week rides from church to church (where they slept and refueled along the way). The impressive thing was that these were teenage kids being lead by some adults, but they were doing rides of 100 to 200 miles a day, at an average speed of 20 mph on some days (including the climbing stages). For the record, my best ever average for 101 miles in one day is 18.1 mph.

The startling thing is that high school kids can be remarkably capable not just at academics but physical challenges. With some focus and time, the results can be well beyond most of the post-college crowd. Sometimes I wonder if we indirectly hold some kids back from really soaring at some endeavors, due to issues that relate much more to us than to them. It can be uncomfortable for an adult to see such vertical achievement so plainly.

I know that I felt strange this week, seeing kids who do little cycling being able to fly along on the flats on their heavy, inexpensive bikes with noisy chains and squeaking brakes. I didn’t want to hold them back, but I knew what would happen fairly quickly if they had better bikes and we were going for more than one week.

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