Trail Troubles

It was the first Saturday in weeks that nothing was planned. No soccer games. No lacrosse games. No baseball games. No First Communion parties. No graduation parties. No yard work. Just a wide open, free day.

As we sat down to eat a big batch of Farmer’s Breakfast—eggs, hash browns, veggies, and sausage all fried up together in one big mish-mash—I asked the clan what they wanted to do. The unanimous vote was a bike ride.

So, half of the family cleaned up while the other half went out to repair and load seven bikes on the family truckster—a not-so-new Honda Pilot. To get all the bikes on one vehicle, we lay down the interior seats and put two inside. The rest go on the rack on the back and we drive two cars to the trail head.

After all the bikes were ready, we started loading seven, sunscreen-slathered people. That’s when the first problem reared its ugly head. Our other car was in the shop. It had seatbelts for five. The loaner car we were using had seatbelts for four. We were a seat short.

No problem. We could simply re-arrange the bikes inside the Pilot and, if lucky, free up one seat. So, we took the bikes off the rack, the rack off the car and tried to open the back door.

It wouldn’t open. After I yelled at my son to unlock the door—and after he yelled back that he had already done so, we realized something was broken—and the Pilot, which we needed all week, had bikes stuck inside of it. Not good.

We decided to try and pull the interior bikes out of the car through the back window. That didn’t work. So, we tried to get them out the side door. After much huffing and puffing and creative engineering, out they came. I still don’t know how.

We pulled the cars back in the garage and adjusted our plan. We decided to stay in town—riding to the new trail our park department had created to connect the city trails to the county trails.

So, off we went. Seven bikes crossing busy streets at crosswalks like the world’s longest line of ducklings—only less organized. Eventually we made it to the new trail. Except, to access it we had to cross a major road. The crosswalks had been installed, but they were not yet operational. My wife and I took one look at the racing cars and at the 8-year-old twins who only occasionally followed directions and decided we’d like to have them around for a few more days. So, we turned around and headed back the way we came.

Cursing our continued bad luck, I decided we should try one more thing. I had the group turn off the side street into a local park, following the nice asphalt and, most important, quiet path through the woods and towards the town square. A few minutes later we arrived—a minor miracle.

I slumped on a park bench in the shade of a huge maple and sent the rest of group for ice cream. When they returned, we all sat around enjoying the perfect temps and peaceful setting.

Just before I got up to leave, I felt a tap on my shoulder. A guy decked out in road biking gear on a very expensive bike handed me a business card. He said, “In case you ever need this.”

The card read PimpMuhBike—bicycle repair specialist. I couldn’t help but smile. What I really needed was one called PimpMuhPilot.

Till next month…

Rodney J. Auth