This year is the Gnome’s first year of formal education. So far, she has delighted in tormenting the other kindergartners (smell my shoe!) and charming her teachers (She is such a spirited young lady!). In short, she is exactly what you’d expect from my kid. Getting the Gnome home from school presented a unique challenge. She is much too young to be a latchkey kid, which meant that she would have to be bussed to either my Tower of Terror or Mrs. RW’s Tumble of Tiny Tots. Since Mrs. RW takes her job far more seriously (she is a Fearless Leader, after all!), it was decided that the Gnome would come to me.
Naturally this put us in a tricky situation: how do we get the Gnome home if I’m bicycle commuting and we have only one (mostly) functional automobile? Clearly Mrs. RW needs the car to get to work (The Tumble is at least 400 yards from the house!), so I needed to figure something out. We decided to use the Trail-a-Bike, which if you’re not familiar is basically a small bike that attaches to my seat post instead of a front wheel.
When the Gnome is seated, the whole rig adds something like 80 lbs to my bicycle. Perhaps a normal human would find this daunting, but Mega-Clydes like myself just imagine that we’ve had a big lunch and get on with it. It has been quite the fun adventure for the both of us; me puffing along and trying not to crash into anything while the Gnome wiggles around in the back singing, clapping her hands, asking me silly questions, and constantly exhorting me to go faster.
At least it was fun until Monday. Monday afternoon as the Gnome and I were loading up the bike, we noticed that the Trail-a-Bike tire was flat. Naturally this happened on one of the few days that I didn’t have a tire patch kit OR a tire pump with me. We were already running late as it was so there was nothing for it but to pedal uphill to the nearest gas station and hope that re-inflating the tire there would get us the rest of the way home.
I have ridden up this hill a thousand times. It’s not a very big hill at all and really only noticeable as a hill in a strong headwind. Except for this last Monday. Have you even tried rowing a boat with a sea anchor deployed? Pulling the Gnome up that hill with a completely flat tire would qualify as training for the Col du Tourmalet section of the Tour de France. At one point I thought that it would be easier to put the Gnome on my shoulders and run up the hill. I don’t know how long it took to reach the gas station, 4 hours maybe, but when we finally did I had to waive off an ambulance crew that was gassing up their rig and assured them that I wasn’t having a heart attack and would be fine in a few moments.
Did you know that gas station air costs 50 cents now? Are you kidding me?!
Anyway, the rest of the trip home was relatively uneventful except that the Gnome couldn’t stop talking about how slow I was going up that hill. She’s all heart, that one.