I am always a little amused when people make declarations of love. Some people need to "declare" love for spouses and children, or to proclaim their need to "spend time" with a spouse, or family member. I find the behavior odd, like saying you need to breath or eat. It always seemed to me that it was a given and the people that made the least of these declarations, had the most stable lives and relationships. I find it equally odd when people pretend that their families or friends don't annoy them, or that they don't need breaks from said folks. My point is, relationships are weird. We love people that drive us nuts. We need to be around our family and sometimes it is healthy for us to be alone.
I have been riding with my son quite a bit over the last few months. It is a little tougher being a bike Dad. It is twice as hard to get ready. There are twice as many mechanical issues, it is twice as expensive. Instead of only having to motivate yourself, you must now be a host to a little person that (most of the time) doesn't know what he is feeling, why he is feeling it, or how to deal with all the residual energy those feelings cause. Like most things I have been passionate about, the perfect days are few, but they occur just enough to keep you to keep you on the hook. When they do happen, there is nothing better.
The downside to this is; I don't get to ride with my friends as much. It wasn't bad in the beginning because LWB could only ride a couple days week, and most days, those rides were short. I could do an easy ride with him, then set out on my own, or catch the group ride later. LWB is getting pretty fit and he has grown (literally) a lot this year. He has become a stronger more experienced rider and he is able to do longer tougher rides than ever before. This has stretched the time between crew rides more and more. It was always the goal for him to be a rider capable of being on the crew rides. When he rides with us, I feel bad inflicting my language and subject filters on the crew. They did not decide to have a kid and it is not their fault he isn't old enough to talk about the various attributes of female runners body parts, or how drunk someone got the night before, or any other adult, politically incorrect subjects that make rides with the boys such great escapes from real life. I live in constant fear that they will recount some tale of my past exploits that my boy is not ready to process. When you factor in that the crew is filled with mythical people he has been hearing stories about for years, and that he so badly wants to be around the riders he idolizes, the balancing act is delicate.
The rare rides I get to be on with (adult only) crew have created another weird side affect: I am way too stoked and I want all those rides to be perfect. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and completely unrealistic. Given enough time (and Irish heritage) allows me to completely edit out all the bad footage and only run the highlight reel, over and over. I show up on adult only rides thinking they are all going to be technically great, super funny and that everyone is as stoked as me. This usually leads to disappointment. I forget that they ride together all the time, they are in bad moods, and that they don't want to recant every detail from all the time since we last rode together. I am also slower, from adjusting my riding style for the grommet and the large number of beginner/junior rides we attend. So on top of getting my feelings hurt, I usually get a good ass kicking to go with my reality check.
When I ride with my son a little part of me is pissed I am not riding harder or with the crew. When I ride with the crew, I miss my boy and I am reminded of slow I am. All in all, I am a lucky dude. I am lucky to have friends. I am lucky to have a kid that rides well. I have even enjoyed riding with some new folks I have met on the Mingo group rides. As with all things, these issues will stabilize without any input from me. Change is hard, and constant.
I'll see you on the trails (eventually).