Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cycling In the Moonlight

My recent cycling post reminded me of another story from the Jones Family Archives. . .

Way back in 1984, when 1F was a two-year-old only-child, Molly and I took her on the PALM ride (Pedal Across Lower Michigan; ie, across the ‘palm of the mitten’, ‘cuz Michigan is shaped like a mitten, get it?), along with a few other couple-friends of ours. PALM is a six-day ride, crossing the Lower Peninsula from shore-to-shore, west to east. With the shorter distances involved, PALM bills itself as a more family-friendly version of more rigorous tours like DALMAC; many parents brought their small children along for the fun, and a few 8-10-year-olds even rode the tour themselves. So I put one of those plastic kid-seats on the back of my bike, and off we went.

And we really did have a good time. The three of us shared a week of life on a somewhat more ‘elemental’ level, with nothing but our own legs to propel us down the road, and sharing a tent together at the overnight campsites.

Of course, strapping a two-year-old into a plastic seat on the back of her dad’s bike for four hours or so, every day for a week, has its own set of challenges, in terms of her attention span, and her willingness to sit semi-still for such long intervals. We planned to take short breaks every hour or so, to let 1F run around a bit before getting back on the bike. And, with some regularity, there were interesting sights to be seen just in the course of rolling down the road. I recall stopping by a turkey farm once (the birds were so fat they could barely stand up), and getting passed by an Amish buggy at another point (note to my readers: many Amish really, really resent being taken for ‘curiosities’ by the ‘outside world’, and attempts to take their photograph can induce a pretty surly response, which may or may not include threatening to run your bicycle into the ditch with their horse).

Molly had recently taught 1F a cute little ‘waking-up-in-the-morning’ ditty, which became a daily staple of our first few miles on the road:

When cows get up in the mor-ning, they always say ‘Good Day’.
When cows get up in the mor-ning, they always say ‘Good Day’.
They say, “Moo, moo, moo, moo,” that is what they say.
They say, “Moo, moo, moo, moo,” that is what they say.

And so on, through a whole barnyard-full (or ark-full, as the case may be) of various animals, and how they all say ‘Good Day’ when they get up in the morning. By the end of the week, I’d heard about all I cared to about animals and the sounds they make in the morning. And I’m hopeful that most of my fellow-riders on that tour have either forgotten about it, or found it in their hearts to forgive us. . .

But, our best efforts aside, sometimes boredom set in for our beloved first-born. Seated as she was on a seat over my rear wheel, the things which were most immediately presented to her senses were things pertaining to my backside. Like my pockets, for one example (I was wearing ‘cycling gear’, where the shorts are those nifty black lycra things, and the pockets are in the back of my shirt). One time, Molly just happened to notice 1F pull my wallet out of my pocket, inspect its contents for a minute or two, and toss it in the roadside weeds, or I might have ended up washing dishes to pay for our lunch.

Another time, as I was pedaling along, 1F grabbed the waistband of my lycra shorts and pulled. Pants-ing me in the process. And putting my, uh, reciprocating moons on display for the benefit of all my fellow-riders in the immediate vicinity (it would be gratuitous, I’m sure, to describe said moons as ‘hairy’, so I won’t). Molly corrected her sternly for that, you can be sure. Altho, I gotta say, some of the effect of ‘stern’ is lost when you’re trying to stifle a belly laugh, and snot is blowing out your nose. . .

But, as I say, we had a great time. We finished the week, and marked it up as a really cool family vacation. And within a couple months, Molly was pregnant with 2F, and the family dynamic never really meshed with the idea of doing PALM again.

Which is probably just as well, for modesty’s sake, knowwhatImean?

7 comments:

lime said...

oh my stars (or moons)! instant mortification just add toddler. you paint the scene well, i can imagine it all too clearly.

i'm glad that in the "end" it turned out to be a positive experience.

FTN said...

It'll be easy to spot you if I'm looking for you: You'll be the bearded, bald guy with his pants down, most likely preaching on the virtues of pubic hair.

The bike ride sounds like a cool experience. I hope you got pictures. And I hope 1F remembers some of it. It'd be a neat story she could tell people.

for a different kind of girl said...

Nudity is pretty much the norm at some point in the great bike ride across my state. Alas, when I had some of this riders stay in my yard a couple years ago when they overnighted in my town, they were far too charming to confirm this was actually a tradition.

btw, I think FTN likes to inject pubic hair into topics as often as you, mister! :)

C-Marie said...

Ahhhhh... the memories!

Too cute, with or without moonbeams.

Therese in Heaven said...

You know, a trip like that wouldn't even occur to me! I am very skiddish about traveling with babies.

It sounds like a really wonderful memory, though.

Cocotte said...

My 1F was a horrible stroller rider. I doubt putting her on the back of a bike would have been much better. It sounds like some good memories though. And thanks for reminding me of that Kindermusic song!

Desmond Jones said...

Lime - Ah, it wasn't so mortifying as all that, but it does make for a great story. . .

FTN - We got pictures, but no 'moon-shots'. As little shame as I have, I've got my limits. And, uh, I suppose Molly wasn't quite quick enough with the camera. . .

I asked 1F if she remembered any of this. She remembers the ride, and the song, but not the wallet or the pants-ing. Altho, she's been told the stories often enough. . .

faDKoG - One of my old riding buddies has done RAGBRAI a few times, and he's never said anything to me about nakedness. . .

And yeah. . . You know, I'd hardly talk about pubic hair at all if the rest of y'all weren't so fixated on it. . .

;)

CM - I'm tempted to take off on the concept of 'moonbeams' and what they might mean in the present context, but I hesitate. . .

And that's probably a good thing. . .

Therese - Well, if you get 'skiddish', I can well understand why you'd be skittish. . . ;)

And I didn't even tell about the section of the tour that went thru suburban Detroit, and the 'close encounter' we had with a garbage truck. That was probably the worst day of riding I've ever been a part of. But, on the plus side, the, uh, feedback the organizers got from the parent-riders probably contributed to better route selection in subsequent years. . .

Cocotte - Ah, so I have Kindermusic to thank for that song? It's been 24 years, so my urge to letter-bomb them has mostly passed by now. . .