With over 20 years in between rides, an extra rig, and gorgeous northern Arizona weather, it wasn’t particularly hard to convince my dad to get out on the trails. His last bike was a fully rigid, steel, V brake disaster. So an all mountain, full suspension, disc brake trail defeater felt like a complete game changer to him, as it should.
We made our way to the Thumb Butte Trail Head and started our journey with a parking lot briefing of how to stop and maneuver the bike. The braking was a big concern for me, and I facilitated several attempts at appropriate stopping technique in the parking lot. Here we developed his skills but more importantly we enhanced his confidence.
This is a simple drill I have all newbies attempt before we ride. Give yourself a bit of room and take three or four pedal strokes, then focus on stopping the bike utilizing both breaks without skidding. Once this is covered, I explain the outcomes for slamming on the brakes, the front one in particular. I was very clear about this and we headed off.
I have to admit, I was pretty excited about my dad riding with me. We had a light rain that morning and the trails were about a perfect as they could be. Our tires crunched through the sand and cruised up small chunks of rock with ease. We kept it low key and stopped frequently but I couldn’t believe how well my Old Man did. He cruised at brisk speeds, maneuvered difficult sections, and with that came great confidence.
Unfortunately his confidence grew a little too high and as we have all learned many times, the trail did what is does best to over confident riders, it punished him. He started to move slightly off trail, slammed his breaks, and instantly inserted his noggin into the dirt. Luckily for us, he was well protected and toughened over many years of miscellaneous abuse. He wore it like a champ and we continued the ride… a little slower.
Near the end of our ride we took a break. It was a bit of a celebration, we had made it, we had survived and I couldn’t have asked for a better day with my dad. Our relationship is truly special and I know I am blessed beyond belief to have a dad that I enjoy being around, and one I can spend the day with mountain biking. To celebrate, I whipped out a couple of cans of beer (sorry they aren’t micro brews, sometimes you have to just grab what is in the fridge), we sipped on them and enjoyed our time. We caught our breath and we shared a moment we will never forget.
Luckily for me, my pops has recovered from his spill, purchased a new helmet, and is anxious to get back on the bike. We will give it another shot this weekend in Flagstaff.