Wow. Kim and I were talking about this last photo last night -- Memorial Day 2009, Bike the Drive in Chicago. That's my dad with Kate atop a World Bicycle Relief bike, at the expo volunteering for WBR, after he rode the whole thing on the Africa bike. Somehow this one photo encapsulates everything that has changed in the past year. Crazy to think what can happen in just 365 days.
Our little girl is growing up. The top two photos above are from last June 2, her 6-month "birthday." Next week, she'll be 18 months. She's a walking, talking, running, bike-riding "big girl" now, and Kim and I are along for the ride. One of my favorite moments each day is when she picks out her shoes, and then backs into me and plops down so I can put them on. She giggles when she does it, and then snuggles in while I wrestle with her socks first, then her shoes. She'll likely pull them off by the time she gets to daycare, but I don't care -- she and I share those minutes each morning, and I always take the chance to sneak in a big hug, tickling my chin with the blonde curls at the back of her head. I'm so happy we're all finally back together.
Things are still slightly askew, but getting more settled. We've got a few daycare issues cropping up, we still can't maneuver through the garage very easily, and our front hallway looks like the storage warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I brought the sickness back from Chicago, so we've been fighting that, while Kim has been incredible letting me get my ride on while she gradually unpacks. Overall, it's going very well -- Kim has finally had a chance to get back to exercising, her job is going well, and Kate has fully embraced her nature side with bike rides and hikes through DuPont.
And what of the riding? Despite some travel so far this year, I've managed to work my way through darn near every "signature" trail in Pisgah and have found some pretty fantastic go-to road rides as well. I mean, what's not to love when you get to choose between places called Heartbreak Ridge or Squirrel Gap on any given weekend? Or you get to ride them both? And your 90-minute home road loop changes from a flat hammerfest to Highland Park and back, to including about 1700 ft. of climbing (at 6%+ grades) and spectacular views of the Blue Ridge?
So I'm the first to admit that I'm spoiled. I've not had a chance to race yet this year -- actually, my "go-fast" bikes are in pieces -- but the bug is still alive and well. In fact, I'm already committed to two big ones -- ORAMM and SM 100 -- and pretty much all my training is focused on THE big one of the year: The Pisgah Stage Race in September. I've got a tall order ahead of me: My fitness is better than it's ever been, but the difficulty factor of my A races has been ratcheted up exponentially -- I used to think SM 100 was pretty tough, until I spent Saturday slip-sliding my way down Kitsuma and Heartbreak after Friday night's rainstorm ...
We've got some much-needed family time scheduled for next week, and then except for a parental visit scheduled for late June, the summer stretches out before us. It's strange not gearing up for a 12-hour race followed by a marathon-length expo this weekend -- what do "normal" people do on Memorial Day weekend?!