on the drive up to nebraska for the ms150 bike ride, the single comment i remember more than any other was, "dad. i think it might be time for a new car."
i blame the thirty degree temperature drop we experienced between our start and end point. well that and the fact that my car doesn't have air conditioning OR heat at the moment which meant early on we had to roll the windows down and crank open the sunroof (yes, i did say crank open). problem is i'm usually alone when i drive and don't realize how loud it is with everything open and how difficult it is to hear the person sitting next to you talking.
but we arrived without incident, got settled in and went to bed because we had to be up early to register. i woke at 5am to drive over to the start point to get us registered. at first i was going to wake bella and have us both go but decided to let her get an extra hour of sleep. when i stepped outside the hotel i was met by a wall of fog. and after getting into my dew-covered car, the temperature read 53 degrees. since it was in the 90's when we left, the last thing i was thinking about packing was any cold-weather gear so we had nothing but our regular summer biking-kits.
when i returned to the room and woke bella, i told her i had good news and i had bad news. the good news was that she wasn't going to be sweating like she did in last year's missouri ride. the bad news was she might be wishing she was.
on bella's first day out she set a new distance record of 50 miles, cold, fog and all.
it has become our custom after our first day's ride to go see a movie. in scanning the listings bella lit up at a movie called If I Stay. i cried so much the collar of my shirt got wet. this proved quite the departure from our usual action slash suspense picks.
on the next day's ride, we hit a rest stop where you had to decide how long you wanted to bike. going this way meant X miles and going this way meant Y miles. in asking bella how she felt, she said she was doing fine. then after a few thoughtful minutes she asked if we took the short route, if we could drive home today instead of tomorrow as we had planned. in looking at the time and considering the miles (both on the bike and in the car) i said i thought we could. curious i asked why as i've never seen bella contemplate leaving a living situation that offered an actual for real television. she said yesterday's movie had her missing the boys and mom and she wanted to see them, today if possible. touched by my daughter's thoughtful sentiment (and sharing in the emotions as well), i said we could surely make it happen so we saddled up, rocked it back to the car and we're en route back home in another hour.
in thinking about how to play it with the family we chose to not give them a heads up about our day early return. after seven hours of driving i stopped the car around the corner from our house and called on my phone. marty answered. after giving an abbreviated and falsified report of our day i asked if one of the boys were around. marty said alex just got into the shower but anthony just finished and was nearby. i asked if i could speak to him. after marty set the phone down, i rounded the corner and pulled up in front of the house. when anthony got on we exchanged our usual greetings. i then asked him if he would do me a favor and look out the front door. after asking why and me saying please just look he set the phone down and ten seconds later the door pulled open and his small frame stepped into the doorway. as he scanned the street his eyes popped when he saw my car, bikes riding high on top bella and i animatedly waving and smiling from the open windows. his face lit up, he screamed and shot forward leaping over each set of steps in a single bound and charged at us with hair still wet from the shower and clad only in his small briefs. i stepped out of the car and he jumped into my arms giving me one of those special hugs only small children seem to know how to give. marty, hearing the screams, entered the doorway a moment later and made a "what is going on" face. bella ran up the steps and hugged her mother. a keen eye could spot a soaking wet alex peering out the upstairs window seeing what he was missing.
smiles were everywhere.