As I write, it is the evening before Liam and I head up North Georgia to ride with the Sorrella Cycling Team for a loop around Three Gaps. This will be Liam’s first ride in the mountains. I wrote about my growing affinity for the challenging riding in the area between Dahlonega and Helen after a solo ride along this route in A Day of Cycling in North Georgia several weeks ago. The basis for my nervousness is multi-faceted; but primarily centers around visions of Liam missing a turn on a winding descent and catapulting over a guardrail, him crossing the center line into oncoming traffic…the list of things that could possibly go wrong goes on ad-infinatum. These are fears…they are things that are possible, but not probable. These fears are also compounded by the fact that I, by my own admission and at times to my own detriment, am not always the best judge of what is “safe”. This is called self-doubt. So I struggle tonight with the basic curse of any responsible parent: fear and self-doubt.
Then on the other side of my invisible ledger, I also have to give weight to the fact that Liam is a very strong (but young) cyclist. He often takes the lead on our weekend Kirkwood Sunday Rides when there is a question on the route. His bike handling and situational awareness skills are solid and he is not prone to erratic or irresponsible maneuvers while riding…not always the case off the bike. In fact, none of my fears or doubts have anything to do with whether or not Liam has the ability complete the ride- that is up to him, and to his credit he is eager and willing. He has put in a lot of miles this year and he should be physically up to it. I have to remember that he blew everyone on the Team-In-Training group away last year by riding up Emerald Bay for our 25 mile tune up ride for the 2010 Tahoe Century. In fact, since the start of this year’s Tour De France, which he has missed watching only a few stages, I have seen a new willingness and ramp up in his riding- venturing out several times this week on his own.
I wish that this angst I am feeling could all be neatly tied up with a bow and make the decision definitive one way or the other- but that is almost never the case with anything worthwhile in life. Things like love and passion and courage are never a sum-total of an equation; there is always a stepping off point where we must move through our fears and self doubt about what lays ahead and go with the information we’ve got. My job as a father is to (safely) deliver a well-balanced, intelligent young man into the world in a few years. I think that this challenge and riding in general is a move in that direction- so I am stepping off.
A side note- this is all in MY head. Liam is just pleased as punch to climb 6000 feet!