When Mama Syd and Papa Chris arrived, after they unloaded their treasures, they packed up our bikes and the kids immediately began to speculate about when we would take to the Mickelson. Tomorrow? This week? When?!

By the time we got up to the lake, the kids were in a frenzy. Tess immediately put on her helmet and was gone, finding her legs and courage again. In fact, she was so anxious to be on her wheels that there were days that she buckled on her helmet before breakfast and left it on the rest of the day.

It took homeschool chic to a whole new level.

As the days passed, there was some jockeying of bikes. Philip gave Max’s bike a try and refused to move back to his own. Tess picked up Philip’s ride and rode and rode until she was confident and convinced us that she was ready to move up. Then? Then Jac picked up two 20 inch bikes for the boys and the next thing we knew, all 3 of the oldest were on big bikes with gears.


I was still reeling from the shock that Tess would ride the Mickelson on her own and now it was on a “big” bike to boot. The afternoon we set out for Dumont was rather spur of the moment and whirlwind feeling. There was no time to feel sentimental about growing kids or worry about abilities because we were riding!

It was a gorgeous evening at the end of a miserably hot day. Not far into the ride, the wind picked up and the route that is usually all downhill fun became work. Max, Philip, Jac and the littlest ladies shot out in front while Mama Syd and I hung back with Tess. She was savor ing the experience.

Well, she was until it began to rain. First a drop or two was sort of fun and adventurous. After the heat, it felt rebellious and welcome. But it didn’t stop and instead stung our arms and flew in our eyes. Water dripped from the visors of our helmets and ran down our legs. We were pedaling hard by then and only about half-way in and Tess announced through shivering lips,

“I want to get in the truck now.” She never slowed or even turned her head, but she was done. I laughed and told her I did, too. Coming over a hill, we saw Philip, alone in the rain, standing on his pedals and not gaining much ground. “Poor Philip,” I yelled over the wind.”He’s all by himself. We need to go tell him he’s doing a good job!” it was all she needed. Her mind focused on Phil, she took off and we were glad to try and catch them.

We waited out the storm in an old tunnel on the trail and after some jolly ranchers all were in better spirits. We finished the ride in the sun and relished our picnic supper by the creek.

And Tess? She was jubilant and beaming for the remainder of the evening. What a trooper she was. Her brothers are becoming real veterans ad trail riding pros. The littlest sisters were happy as could be in the kiddie cart- Ellie because she had access to all the snacks and Gemma because she had Ellie.

I think the kids thought the ice cream from Cheyenne Crossing was the treat but I found that evening the sweetest part of summer yet.