One thing we do on Sunday morning is to feed donuts and sausage biscuits to the teenagers at church. I overheard one 14 yr old freshman telling my wife about biking around town and out in the country with friends and riding almost 15 miles yesterday. I overhear her say "ah, you should talk to my husband, he does that all the time". The long and short is that I invite them to ride anytime, even this afternoon.
In the middle of my nap (after some fine Italian dining) the door knocker jolts me awake and there are two teenagers standing at the door wanting to check their bikes and go ride 20 miles Another teenager is on his way. I do a quick tune up on two mid-grade (Shimano Alivio grade) mountain bikes (Iron Horse) and one Wal Mart bike. One kid's rear brakes are dragging all the time. All the chains are filthy or rusty and have trouble shifting. None of them quite understand about gear ratios and cross chaining. One has no brakes that really work. We finally give up on tuning the Wal Mart bike and I offer one kid my spare 90's Schwinn Mesa 7-spd Shimano STX cro-mo to ride. I take my other Schwinn Mesa (now 9 speed LX equipped with 1.9 inch Specialized hemisphere treads, just right for dirt roads). No one has any water bottles. I dig up bottle holders from my bin and from an old hybrid as well as one large water bottle for each.
No one other than myself has a helmet. They are afraid they'll look like geeks, being local athletes and all.
One kid is the son of a local football coach and "my Daddy rides Harleys and doesn't believe in helmets". I promise to ride with them one time, but not again without helmets. The coach's kid was the last to arrive and is a little skeptical about riding with an old man, and also a little bit of a wise a**. Not to worry, I've raised four boys.
Off we go from the driveway and up the hill. I'm climbing at about 13 mph, my usual speed up the 1/2 mile hill from the house, and they can't keep up. We stop and talk about how to utilize all those cogs. No one is talking about the old man now. I make them ride no more than two abreast and also stop at all signs. We head out of town toward the real hills. They have trouble keeping up. Five miles later we stop and they are all nearly out of water. The temp is mid-90's. I drink a bottle every ten miles or so and they each drank a bottle in less than five miles. I give them my bottle of water to divide among themselves (I also have one of Gatorade) and tell them we're turning around. I hear them talking about the Camelbaks they saw hanging in my garage and I promise we'll do it again and start early and take plenty of water. We get back to town, stop at the first opportunity for more water, and then head back home.
The one kid who took my old Schwinn was amazed that he could hit nearly 30 mph on the downhills, something his Wal Mart bike wouldn't do, and with knobbies no less. The coach's son wasn't making any more remarks about old men. The other kid promised to come back.
I have offered the old Schwinn to the kid who had the Wal Mart bike if he will only buy a helmet and ride with it. It's too small for me, I was going to sell it on Ebay, and I would just as soon pass it forward. He saw my road bike and touring bike and seems to be taken with the sport, particularly when I told him I've been riding bikes since the early 70's, and have always had one. Keep in mind, these kids are waiting for their first car. Then they ask about prices and when I tell them what my touring bike is worth they realize how serious I am about this stuff, and the bike is worth more than that old pickup truck they are going to get to drive.
Unfortunately the battery in the camera was dead so I don't have a picture of the Pied Piper (me) with the little rats. But I think I struck a blow for cycling for the next generation, at least with one kid, and we had a lot of fun in about 12 miles.