Not long ago (a year or so), my 24 y/o son and I were on a 64-mile road trip to my mother's house and back. He was fresh out of the Army from the 82nd Airborne at Ft. Bragg, NC (505th P.I.R), and was "11-Bravo" (Infantry) and was in pretty good shape at 6' 1" - 175 lbs, compared to my pillsbury dough boy 5' 10" - 250 lbs. I had open heart surgery 10 years ago, and I'm diabetic. He was "High Speed, Low Drag", as they say in Airborne speak, with 43 jumps (three of them where he "burned-in" and was dragged 400 yards thru dense thickets when surface wind picked up before he could even get out of his harness. He's had numerous "Helicopter Assault Repels" and eventhough he could'nt run all that fast, his friends called him "mule" because he could go on 12-mile road marches carrying an 80 lb ruck sack, plus an additional 40 lbs of "squad machine gun" called a "240-Bravo that is mounted on a tri-pod. Needless to say, "the boy" has paid his dues and I'm a proud papa.
Well, all the way through that ride (with a 14 mph headwind) I tried to hang on to his wheel, and could'nt. He was just too strong on the flats, even in a headwind. Eventually he started to out distance me in the wind, getting a 100 yard lead on me in a span of 8-miles that I had virtually no hope of recovering. I felt bad about this because I had 12,000 miles in these old legs, compared to his few hundred miles in his. I was also older than him by about 26 years too, but I still felt lame. I mean, I thought I was the cyclist in the family, and had to pull him the distance.
I was proud of him though, because he was strong and was having a good time. After his 100-yard lead, we approached one of those long, curving ascents that eventually topped out on a high overpass. This ascent was probably a mile long, big and wide, winding uphill to this tall bridge and I was already gasping for breath just trying to catch up to him. Well, I pretty much knew this was where "the boy" was going to drop me. All I could do was dig in and suffer, trying to hold speed, trying to salvage whatever dignity I had left. It was killing me. The winds were brutal, and I was dogged tired, not even really looking ahead, just sort of looking off the sides without paying much attention. Slowly, and in the wind, I slogged up this long, winding hill feeling deflated, gasping for breath, trying to keep my 12 mph speed, wondering where "the boy" was at when something caught my eye in my slobbering daze.
It was 'him',..."the boy", and I damn near clipped his rear wheel when I passed him. I remembered "the look" he gave me and I dug in deep, staying with it, the euphoria coming over me like a wash. I made it to the top a hundred yards ahead of him and waited. When he finally showed up, his face was twisted in agony, panting for breath, managing a big smile as we both hung our heads over the bars, gasping for breath. "The boy" was gasping, nodding his head, telling me..."You done good, Dad!!.....I'm proud of you!!...That was tough!!"
It was the first time he ever said that to me. I mean, i was always there for him, his mom and i nurturing his young *****, worrying about him all thru jump school and after, but he'd never said he was proud of me.
All I could do was snatch him in a bear hug, damn near pulling him off his bike. The both of us, Father and son, standing there astride our bikes on top of that bridge locked in an embrace, gasping and laughing. Must've been a hell of a sight, I guess.
When we got back home that evening, my wife came out to greet us, asking us... "Well how was your ride, boys??"
All I could say after we rested up some and put the bikes away was..."The boy's fast on the flats, even in a stiff headwind... (we were doing like 16-17 for 32 miles)...............But "the old man" dropped him in the mountains!!"
....so what was your "Mont Ventou???