He said he didn't want to ride as he wiped the sleep crusties out of the corner of his eyes. I nodded, but replied, "Come, on. It's a beautiful day out. Humor the old man; I may not be around a whole lot longer." Grumbling to himself, and perhaps more toward me, he slowly dressed and ate a quick breakfast as I filled the water bottles and pumped up the tires. We were only about 15 minutes into the ride and he's complaining, "Damn seat feels like it's working it's way up my lower intestines." I ignored it and we ride on in silence for the next 20 minutes. As we hit a section of road with lots of bright sunshine, he spotted a large black snake slowing slithering across the road ahead of us. "Hey, Dad. Look ahead.", he called out. I acknowledged the snake and asked, "Why do snakes cross the road?" There was no reply; I suspect he knew there was a bad pun waiting should he respond.
We're now both warmed up and cruising along at a pretty good clip. As we pass a hedge row composed mostly of lilacs, he says, "Dad. Do you smell that? That must be one of the best smells in the world." I nod, take a deep breath and say, "Yeah, it's not too bad at all." Perhaps 200 to 300 yards down the road we pass a patch of blooming honeysuckle. I say, "Well, maybe this is the second best smell in the world." For the first time this morning he smiles and says, "It might be a tie. They're both pretty good."
We've now been out for a bit over an hour and we approach a small mom and pop store. I ask if he wants to stop and get a piece of fruit or a sweet roll. He looks over and gins as he says, "Let's just keep riding." No complaints from me. So we push on. Now we're coming to a section with a pretty steep climb, and I'm concerned his mood will slip back toward the dark grumbling he was doing earlier. To my surprise I hear his chain drop down a cog as he shouts, "I'll race you to the top." Off we go with me watching his backside the entire climb. Once at the top I see that he has a big smirk on his face, and I bite my tongue and just keep quiet as he savors the victory.
As we begin to approach the last mile before getting home again, I see that his face is relaxed, his legs are spinning smoothly, his head is held high, and I'm thinking, "That's my boy who's quickly turning into a man." Once home, we dismount and walk the bikes around to the back of the house. I look over at him and say, "So, didn't you say you didn't want to ride today?" He leans his bike against the shed, walks over and hugs me while whispering in my ear, "Thanks, Dad."