Last Sunday I entered a mountain bike race (my first), and Andrea took the three kids out to see the end of my race and most of their Uncle Ben’s race, which was after mine. It was very hot1 and the kids were surprisingly cooperative, although they probably spent more time looking at tiny screens and snacking than watching people zoom by on fat tires.
Shortly after I finished racing and found the kids, I asked Thomas to go help me wash off my bike. He groused a little at having to abandon his tiny screen, but perked up a little bit when he realized he’d get to spray a high-pressure hose around in public. As we walked back to my car to return the bike, he had a suggestion:
“Hey, Dad, I think you should get a folder to keep all of your bib numbers in, and then you can also write down how you did in each race next to each number.”
At this point, I should clarify something about my bicycle racing habit. I am able to enter a few races a year. I really enjoy racing bicycles, but I am not particularly good at it. By “not particularly good,” I mean that I have identified a bug in USA Cycling’s iPhone app whereby if you were ranked, say 11th out of 11 in a given discipline and demographic, the site would tell you you were “first.” Although I’ve never formally reported the bug, my rankings could provide them with a large corpus of test cases: in multiple cycling disciplines and when grouped by zip code, state, racing age, or age range. My goals for a given race invariably have more to do with not getting dropped, lapped, or hurt than they do with a competitive or even above-average finish.
So I was charmed that WT wanted me to track my mediocrity over time, but such a record seemed like a good idea for him (he is an amazing bike handler and has been pretty successful at kids’ triathlons), and I told him so:
“That’s a great idea, but maybe we should start keeping track of your bibs and your results!”
“And Dad? When you get a rainbow jersey, you can put it in the folder, too.”
I smiled. “Thanks, buddy. But really, I almost certainly won’t ever get a rainbow jersey.”
WT thought about it for a few seconds. “Well, Dad, here’s what you’ll do. At the end of the race, you might be in fourth or something, and you’ll just have to go as fast as you can to beat the person who’s winning. See?”
Of course, I’m usually right around fourth from last rather than fourth overall, but it doesn’t matter. What more could one want for Father’s Day than a wife who loves you enough to drag your kids across the county to watch your ridiculous hobby on a sweltering Wisconsin afternoon, three children who love you enough to cheer when they finally see you, and an oldest son who thinks highly enough of you that he assumes you might be awfully close to best in the world at anything?
1 Thanks to some Dropouts for taking pity on Andrea and the kids and letting them evade the sun in their tent!