Today we kicked off what we had hoped would become an annual family tradition of biking along Lake Shore Drive. We never dreamed it’d end up with a crash and the little one saying she never wants to bike again.
Jason and I have each done Bike the Drive a few times, but this year we brought his daughter along. She wasn’t excited about the 30-mile distance, but she was excited about spending time doing something that Jason and I enjoy together.
We hooked her tag-a-long up to Jason’s bike and we were off.
Aside from the chilly, foggy weather, everything was going great. We were cruising along and instilling a love of cycling in the youngest member of our family.
After almost three-quarters of the route, we decided to cut the ride short because the kiddo was cold. But on our way home, her tag-a-long started to tip. She told her dad to stop, and as he was pulling off to the left (out of harm’s way from other cyclists), that damn attachment tipped to the left as it hooked around to the front right of Jason’s bike.
And the little one fell off.
Jason wasn’t going fast at all, but he had just enough speed going that the wee one banged up both knees, and got some pretty bad scrapes and road rash.
Jason and I both leaped off our bikes to check on the kiddo. She was crying and saying how much her knees hurt. “I never want to do this again!” she wailed.
After Jason scooped her up, he handed her to me and she clung to me, sobbing. He collected the bike and the tag-a-long, while I sat the kiddo down along the guard rail to inspect her injuries. The scrapes were pretty standard for a bike fall, but she was spooked and in pain.
She kept crying, “I don’t want to ever do this again!” And I don’t blame her.
At some point, an angel of a woman ran up from across LSD exclaiming, “I have Band-Aids!” and handed me a whole bunch of bandages. I told her “thank you”, and started sticking them to the kiddo’s scraped up legs. Anyone who has a child in their life knows how much Band-Aids can do to relieve youngster’s stress about their injuries. I hope my eyes conveyed to the woman how grateful I was for her help. I wish I could have hugged her. [Whoever you are, thank you! I hope that if someone near me is ever in need of anything that I have the right supplies for them.]
Once we got the tag-a-long back to normal, and the kiddo feeling a little better, we had to figure out how to get her home.
Any mention of going back on the bike had her shaking, sobbing and clinging to me all over again. There was no SAG wagon in sight. We couldn’t hail a cab because, ahem, LSD was shut down for our event. And it was quite a hike to get to an exit; we were somewhere between Fullerton and Belmont.
I don’t know what happened to me, but I just started making decisions. Maybe it means I’ll be a good parent one day. Or maybe it means I just get bossy. All I knew is that the kiddo wasn’t didn’t want to get on the bike again, and I wasn’t going to make her. So I had an idea and got Jason on board with it.
I got Jason’s bike lock and ran across LSD to the bike path along the lake. I locked my bike up to a tree, ran back to my family and hooked my bike bag to my waist somehow. I told Jason we’d meet him at home, and figured I’d go for a run later to pick up my bike. I picked up the kiddo and carried her a mile (maybe more) along the bike path. My feet started to ache in my cycling shoes (anyone who rides knows they’re not meant for walking in), so I took them off and kept trudging north in the mud, gravel and grass in my stocking feet.
The path was crowded. And not one single person asked us if we needed help, not even to offer to call a cab.
Here we were, a barefoot woman carrying a young sobbing and bleeding child in the rain far away from any feasible way to get on the path, still wearing our helmets and rider numbers, and no one asked us if we were OK. Or how we got out there.
I was furious by the time we made it to a street with cars. And I vowed I will always at least ask people if I can call someone for them if they seem to be in need of assistance — even if I have no actual useful skills.
About the time we hit the road, Jason got home and brought the car to come get us. He also dropped me off near my bike and I took it home.
Will the kiddo ever want to ride again? Probably not. I saw the fall; it must have been terrifying for a young child.
Those aren’t memories that fade over time. They’re the ones that you’ll always remember. As adults, we all have those one or two memories that seem to be forever burned into our minds. Today’s event is that for her, I’m sure.
We will let her take the lead on her like, love, dislike or hate for cycling. We don’t want to make her fear worse by forcing her to do something that makes her uncomfortable or scared.
[UPDATE: The wee one was already talking about doing Bike the Drive again — she never wants to use her tag-a-long again. Phew. Her own bike it is!]