So often in life our most anticipated plans fall short of expectations. However, even though I had been looking forward to this father-son ride for weeks, the time I spent talking and joking with my 10 year old on this glorious afternoon ride greatly exceeded any prior expectations.
After we decided to drive down to the Rochester area early for my brother-in-law’s wedding, I began planning the route Koen and I would ride while mom visited customers in the area. Since my father-in-law lives in Byron and I have ridden Country Rd. 5 into Pine Island solo on a number of occasions, I thought this would make a perfect mid-day lunch loop. The plan was to meet my father-in-law at the Subway in Pine Island before returning on the Douglas Trail and finishing with a climb of Genoa Hill. All told this would end up being roughly a 34 mile ride.
Koen and I left Byron around 11:30 and told Russ (my father-in-law) to meet us at Subway around 12:30. It was only 14 miles away, but I wanted to play it safe. Leaving Byron with a tailwind increased our average speed to nearly 18 mph, but after getting my first flat tire of the year five miles outside Byron our progress was slowed a bit. Koen was in great spirits as we started to climb the first hill. Now that he considers himself a bit of a “climber,” he gets extra motivated when the pavement tilts up. The trip to Pine Island was filled with great conversation about his favorite subjects in schools, why “Uncle Grandpa” is his favorite cartoon, and all of the attributes that make Peter Segan his favorite professional cyclist. Koen is always a pretty social kid, but he is even more so when it’s one-on-one. This is definitely one of the best parts about our rides together.
After sharing a nice lunch at Subway with Russ, we left Pine Island via the Douglas Trail. Since we were now experiencing more of a headwind, the protection from the old-growth trees surrounding the former railroad tracks were a welcome relief. We continued our conversation, that ranged from very silly to thoughtfully deep, as we passed and waved and fellow cyclist who were also out enjoying this glorious day.
When we reached the township of Douglas we got off the trail and headed west on 75th Street NW. Koen let me know the Gatorade was making his stomach feel a little uneasy. However, I knew this was more of a built-in excuse if he struggled on the ensuing Genoa Hill. I know some of the games he plays as I played them myself—and often still do.
A few miles down the road we descended toward the Zumbro River before climbing out of the river valley on Genoa Hill. The hill is only a little over a mile long, but has sections that are in excess of 13% gradient. Koen did great! I thought my GoPro was snapping photos, but I am so glad it was shooting video during the climb. His effort, mannerisms, and comments are priceless.
My Perspective of Koen’s Climb up Genoa Hill
We arrived back in Bryon around 2:30 after putting in a solid 34 miles on our bikes. Grampa Russ had ice cream drumsticks waiting for us as we talked about the adventures of the day. I only hope Koen’s memories of these father-son rides will be as fond as mine. It’s safe to say that a plan including bikes, beautiful weather, great conversation, hill climbs, family, and a treat at the end tend to exceed expectations. What a wonderful day.