This weekend I was camping and riding with a group of old guys like me and we had a great time...cold nights, big trees, lots of climbing and lots of descending on some very high quality singletrack.
We camped at a spot that I have been going to with my son for years now. In fact, it felt rather odd to be there without him as he was off at summer camp with a big group from church. I was talking to one of the dads up there about how I had been bringing Christopher here to camp and ride The Jump Trail since he was a pretty little guy, back when he had a singlespeed 16" wheeled, chrome Schwinn bike. He could make the trail just fine since it is a mile or so downhill and pretty wide, with good sized 'speed bumps' to launch off of sprinkled through the length of the ride. But the uphill was beyond his abilities so I hooked a combo of a horse lead rope and a thick bungee cord between his frame and my seat post and I would tow him back up the nearby pavement and we would do it again. Shuttle by Dad, as it were.
Last evening I took my son, now 15 years old, 5" 10" tall, and riding an old Curtlo Action Tec that I built up for him, to a nearby loop that is perfect for him. It meanders up an old canyon on broken pavement with an easy grade, then returns on a narrow ribbon of singletrack that winds through the scrub oak and grass. No more tow ropes. He was nipping at my heels unless I turned up the volume and dropped him, so I stayed close for the buddy factor and let him think he is as fast a Dad is. No harm there.
Afterwards we grabbed some chocolate milk and 3 chocolate chip coookies (better bring one home for mom) and listened to James Taylor on the CD player in the family Suburban.
There are always the temptations to spend great sums of money on fancy things for our kids, things that usually sit broken or forgotten in short order. That misses the mark. It is all about time. Kids want our time. I could have just as well gone down to the park, shot hoops, and split a slurpy. Or gone fishing, to a ball game, or just about anything.
There will come a day when my little buddy is moved on to being a big buddy...he is about there now and I am very proud of him. And when that happens there will always be memories of tow ropes, camping, "whoo hoo" shouts of joy when he actually wheelied off of the jumps in the trail...and chocolate milk.