Sometimes, Drew and I get on a bit of a sports binge. We try and slam as much activity into an afternoon as we can. Yesterday, was one of those days.
Starting off with lacrosse, we did our ritual 50-50, throwing a half-century’s worth of passes first righty then lefty. That was followed by some quick toss where we catch and throw in one motion.
Next up was 50 throws and catches of the football, no drops allowed. In honor of the coming World Cup, we then kicked around the soccer ball before breaking out the leather mitts for some baseball.
Soon enough, we’d passed about ninety minutes playing and I was ready to get back to the kind of busy work I like to get done over the weekend. That’s when Drew hit me with a very earnest, “what are we going to do next, Dad?”
A couple of nights before, Drew had come down after bedtime in tears. Lacrosse was ending on Saturday and he was sad that he wouldn’t have any sports to play over the summer. Drew’s got a nice group of friends but not many of them are athletes. Lego, Xbox and various games of the imagination take up most of their time. I had made a mental note to do more to keep his body moving in the absence of an organized sport.
“What do you want to do?”
“Let’s ride our bikes. 50 laps around the neighborhood,” he suggested.
“Let’s make it 25. We’ll call it the Tour de Tashua.”
Our neighborhood has a convenient loop that’s just over a third of a mile long. There’s a decent section that runs down a major road but there’s enough grass running alongside to ensure that we wouldn’t get hit by the cars that routinely break the speed limit on it. On the backside of the loop is a slow, steady incline but if you do it enough, it can make you wince.
Breaking out the bikes, we discovered Drew’s MTB had a flat. I changed the tire quickly only to discover the replacement tube had a hole in it as well. We tried to move his seat to his BMX bike but the shaft didn’t fit. Drew was looking at doing the 8 plus mile ride on a single geared bike that he can’t really sit on.
“I’m okay with it,” he assured me. And with that, we were off.
The past couple of months for Drew have been challenging athletically. He busted out of the gate in lacrosse season with two goals in his first game and looked like he’d set the world on fire. But a nasty case of Sever’s Disease soon had him hobbling on the field far more than he was flying. Most mornings, he’d come downstairs limping significantly. He was held out of practices and not allowed to condition with the team. Several times I asked him if he just wanted to sit out the rest of the season. Each time, his eyes would fill as he adamantly opposed the idea.
And the heel wasn’t the only thing holding him back. The kid’s growing in startling bursts and his coordination comes and goes like good weather in New England. One day he’s stick handling like a champ, the next he looks more Neanderthal than ubermensch.
Just that morning, I’d expressed some doubts as to just how far the little guy would go with sports, telling his mother that maybe he was more of a student than a sports stud.
But Drew has always had something really special on the bike. He took off down our driveway, turned right on to Madison and started hammering like a man possessed. Without a hint of injury or awkwardness, he banged out the circuits with a veteran discipline, hitting each one between 1:32-36.
A brutal, hill studded run earlier in the day had my legs a little less than responsive and from the start. I was chagrined to find myself working to keep up with my nine year old. Rarely laying off for the glide, he stood on his pedals for almost the entire 40 minutes it took us to complete the 25 laps.
Each time we came to the backside hill, we’d climb shoulder to shoulder. I told him I felt like one of Lance’s teammates trying to keep up. He just smiled and kept hammering.
On the last lap, both of us were breathing hard and sweating heavy. Off the final turn, it’s uphill back to the house. He gapped me by about ten feet, pulled into the driveway and flopped onto the ground totally spent.
A giant smile stretched on his face, a full blast of fitness under his belt.