I was so excited Thursday morning. I was going to ask 27 Grade 6 kids for help. I had let my dream fade and maybe they could get me back on track. I want to ride my bicycle across Canada in 2018. It’ll be about twenty of us embracing the Tour du Canada – taking 70 days to pedal 7600 kilometres from Vancouver, B.C. to St. John’s, Newfoundland (a bit more if I start in Victoria).
I started by asking the kids if they have a goal which so far they hadn’t achieved. After one young man responded, I told them about the Tour. It seemed like there was a collective drawing in of breath as I launched into my story. Tiffany, their teacher, said that here was an opportunity to bring school closer to real life. Indeed. She handed out huge pieces of paper and groups of students charted ideas for me.
As the kids hummed along in their work, one girl came up to me and asked “What colour are your eyes?” (Huh?) Turns out that she was drawing a picture of me on the paper and wanted to get my eyes right.
And then the presentations. No more junk food. Ride my bike every day. Find someone to train with. Write encouraging letters to myself between now and June, 2018, and open them on the ride when I’m having a hard day. Write a blog as I cross the country so folks can find out how I’m doing. Thanks, kids! Tiffany will be marking their posters and then I get to take them home for inspiration.
After all was said and done, two girls came up to me (separately) and said that they want to do the ride with me. Whoa! I mentioned that a lot of thinking had to be done, parents had to be totally on board, and the training would be intense. Inside, I was churning.
Have you ever read a book three times? I have. The title is Hey Mom, Can I Ride My Bike Across America? A teacher and his wife rode with five 12- and 13-year-olds from Washington, D.C. to Santa Barbara, California. It took four months.
Yes, I’ve dreamed of doing the Tour du Canada for many years. Sitting right beside that dream was another: to include a couple of kids on the adventure. I only have two regrets in life – that Jody died so young and we didn’t have children. I think I would have been a good dad. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could be a sort-of-dad for two months and share the wonders of Canada with fine young Canadians?
Now, a few days after speaking my heart, I try to put myself in the parent’s chair. It’s not too likely that mom and dad would let their daughter or son travel with me for ten weeks. It’s a long ways. Hills. Bad weather. Possible illness and injury. Maybe a few unsavoury characters discovered along the way. If it was my child, would I let them go? Well … yes. If I trusted the person to keep my dear one safe. Roots and wings.
Here I sit, not knowing if some Grade 6 kids will accompany me. Maybe there are parents out there who will say yes. First of all, of course, maybe there are a couple of children in that class who truly want to do this and are willing to put in the work to make it happen.
The weight of reason suggests that this part of my dream won’t happen
But you never know