Written by Ann Brennan
Forty-five days ago, my 9-year-old son, Zane and I started a cycling streak. We did not go for that first ride with a streak in mind but within minutes of starting that first ride, a light went on inside my son and our lives changed in an amazing way.
For 6 months I have been struggling with a back injury due to two fractures in my lower back. I have not been able to run, but more than that I have been in constant pain and limited in my everyday life. If you know me you know this is more than just a struggle. It is excruciating. I have been a runner for 23 years. On the occasions when I could not run I have always had something to fall back on, swimming, biking or walking. But this injury has been different. This injury has completely limited my life in so many ways. So when we went out for our first ride I wasn’t sure. Could I do it? Would it cause me more pain? Would it limit me event further? Truth be told, the reason I invited Zane along that day was because I knew he would hold me back, keep me from pushing myself and causing further damage.
And he did. We rode at his pace and it was good. It was fun. But the best part was not that I was riding with minimal pain again, it was watching this light go on inside of Zane. He loved that ride. He loved learning how to pass others on the trail, he loved learning the jargon of cyclists and he loved racing through the park with his mom. By the time we got home I was so excited I barely made it in the door before I told my husband we had to go get Zane a new bike, one he could ride every day.
Since that day we have ridden come hell or high water. We have ridden as little as a mile on a day we were busy from before dawn until almost midnight and as much as 40 miles. We have ridden in the rain and the heat. We have ridden miles before school and more after. Our bikes have become a huge part of us. Yesterday, while Zane was at school I decided to get in an extra ride. I am now able to ride with very little pain and have started enjoying pushing myself a little more. As I rode, I started thinking about how much I have learned in the past 45 days.
5 Things I Learned From My Son –
1. You have to start somewhere – When we started we rode 8 miles around the local park. We didn’t do it exceptionally fast but we got those miles in. Slowly we have gone longer and gotten faster. But for someone who has completed centuries and an Ironman, someone who has ridden 1000’s of miles that first ride seemed like cheating. Did it really count as a ride? Yes. Because before that day I was doing very little in the way of exercising. I was in too much pain, I claimed. The truth is I was too afraid of making the pain worse. And Zane was all new to cycling. He had ridden the half miles to school and back but not much more than that. But we started and starting is the important part of any exercise routine. This morning Zane told me he has ridden a almost 400 miles since we started but it all started with one ride.
2. Miles beget miles – I don’t know that this is true for everybody but I am motivated by numbers. The more miles we put in, the more I log on Daily Mile, the more I want to put in. Each week I find myself pushing further and trying to do more. Success begets success and miles beget miles.
3. Passion is contagious – Zane lit up with passion on that first ride. Before we got home at the end of the ride he had already decided we should ride every day for as long as we could. He started talking about riding across the country. Doing 100 milers. I completely caught that passion and we have passed it back and forth for the past 45 days. There are days he doesn’t feel like going but I am so passionate about our streak that he comes along and vice versa, days when I would rather sit on the deck with a cup of coffee but his passion pushes me out the door. And it isn’t just us. We have started a Monday night ride for families and they are getting the bug. He has a friend at school who joined us this week and has asked if he can come every Monday. Passion is definitely contagious.
4. Competitiveness runs in the family – Zane has never loved sports. His least favorite subject in school is P.E., but on the bike he is just like me. He wants to push further, go faster and of course, pass that rider that is up ahead. Just like me he is selectively competitive and biking brings out that spirit like nothing else ever has.
5. I still miss running – I love biking. I love that it makes me feel strong again. I love the feel of the wind on my face. I love being able to go further and see more than I could on a run. I love the time I spend with Zane on the bike. But, I still miss running. Every time we pass a runner, my heart hurts a little. Every time I notice I am getting faster I think of how great it would be to do another tri and put this work to the test. I always said if something happened and I had to stop running I would be satisfied with riding and in some ways I am. I am so happy riding is here for me but I don’t know that I will ever stop missing running.
When I found out I was pregnant with Zane, my mother-in-law told me he would keep me young. I have definitely seen that. But with this streak he is doing more than that. He is keeping me fit, he is keeping me healthy, and most of all, he is keeping me happy.