Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dirtbike Dreams - Part II

If you missed "Dirtbike Dreams - Part I", you can read it HERE. That's the first part of this story.  

I realize I'm about to go way overboard with photos here, but I just can't choose just a few! I narrowed down the photos from the first day Gavin had the dirtbike to 248 photos! Don't worry - they're not all included here... but it sure seems like there's a lot!  This dirtbike - and the handsome little boy who rides it - has been such a fun part of our life the last couple of weeks!

When Cliff hasn't been out in the combine harvesting corn and beans, he's been on his own mini-bike following Gavin around the farm! They've had so much fun and I love to watch them together!

Cliff actually had plans the day that Gavin was supposed to get his dirtbike, so Cliff decided to give him the dirtbike a day early and took the day off work so they could spend the whole day enjoying it. After breakfast Cliff gave Gavin the racing jersey that he had earned and Gavin wanted to try it on right away.  We encouraged Gavin to try on all of his gear, just to see it all together. Then we went outside so I could take his picture. Cliff had snuck up to our storage garage the night before and brought the dirtbike down to our house and hid it in our garage. While I was taking Gavin's picture wearing all of his gear, Cliff pushed the dirtbike out of the garage so Gavin could see it. He was so stinkin excited! (and a little unsure at the same time I think! He seemed like he wasn't sure if it was a joke or if he was REALLY getting his own dirtbike!)  

Cliff sat with him and showed him all of the parts of the dirtbike again. He had ridden a dirtbike (the same model even) at our friends' house about a month and a half or so before this. Cliff is so good at talking this sort of thing through with Gavin and really explaining and making sure Gavin understands the safety precautions, all of the controls, and how things work.

One of the things I love so much about Cliff's parenting is the way that he gets right down on Gavin's level and they have a little debrief session before and after certain activities they do together. I just love watching it and I've seen it a lot this fall between working on the farm, the dirtbiking, combining, and tractor driving.

After the big reveal, we put the dirtbike in the back of our Ranger and headed up to Cliff's parents' place so Gavin could practice riding in their old cow pasture, which is a nice big open area surrounded mostly by a split -rail fence. The ground is relatively smooth and the grass is kept mowed, so it was a good place to just ride in big circles and get used to the feel of the bike. Cliff helped Gavin get all geared up and started by holding on to the bike and running along with Gavin as he rode.

We had our share of crashes, although most of them were just tip-overs. Once, Gavin rode right out of the pasture and around the corner of the chicken coop and wood shed where there are some old concrete foundations and several small buildings. He was completely out of our view there and although I'm not moving very quickly these days, Cliff took off running to check on him. He had tipped over, but thankfully hadn't crashed into anything. He was still getting used to braking and learning to actually squeeze the brake without accidentally pulling on the throttle. One time he managed to ride right into the front of the ranger, but he was going slow enough, that no one and nothing was harmed. 

If I had to guess, I'd say he probably "tipped over" about 20 times that morning, but he always got right back up and back on the bike. We made sure that he could lift the bike back up on his own (our friends' bike) before we ever decided to get one for him, since that's definitely a pre-requisite. Cliff had adjusted the governer so that the bike would only go up to a certain speed - basically capped off the throttle. If Cliff or I had gotten on it, it wouldn't have even had enough power to move.
(in the above photo, the patch of trees just to the right of the power-line pole is where our house is, just about 3/4 mile down the road, across the bean field from the pasture where Gavin was riding. When I use the zoom lens on my camera, the distance / depth perception is thrown off and the distance between two points appears a lot shorter than it is)

After a couple of hours of riding... and tipping over, Gavin was wiped out. Cliff was so proud of him and picked him up and was tossing him around and giggling with him and telling him how proud he was of him.

Cliff's Mom is the biggest worrier I know and is always concerned for everyone's safety. Gavin's safety is probably her number one worry of all time. She's very protective of him and is always worried he'll get hurt...  and he does sometimes, but he plays rough and he needs to get some small injuries I think to learn the consequences of some things.

She came walking down the driveway and saw Cliff carrying Gavin like this and of course, assumed Gavin was hurt. It isn't really funny and we know that Gavin is pretty little to have such a big responsibility as riding a motorized vehicle, and certainly could get hurt, it was very typical for her to assume the worst! There was, of course, no need for worry. Of course, I am thankful that it all went well and he is learning so much (and there were no injuries or major mishaps) 

We took a needed break from dirt-biking and went back home for lunch. After lunch Gavin wanted to ride again, so this time we let him ride around our yard. This was a bit more challenging because he had to transition from grass to gravel and back again and the circle he was riding in wasn't so wide and open. It was a tighter circle and we have a lot more trees and brush. He did great and it was amazing to see his improvement in just a matter of a couple of hours.

After nap, we let him ride one more time for the day, as we knew he wouldn't have a chance the next day since Cliff had plans all day and Gavin and I were heading up to the lakehouse for an overnight. I still can't believe how much more comfortable he was by the end of the day. He had nearly mastered braking and had significantly more control of the throttle, so his movement was much more smooth. He was leaning into his turns and going as fast as the machine would allow him to go. He was really loving it!

That's not to say we didn't have any more crashes, though! He got a little close to the edge of the gravel around this sharp curve in our driveway and the weeds and brush along the edge of the driveway pulled him off "into the rhubarb" as Cliff says. He was giggling the whole time and even stayed there on the ground just so I could snap this picture before he got back up and hopped back on. 

When Gavin and I returned from the lakehouse on Sunday, he and Cliff each got on their bikes and rode around our yard and eventually all around the farm. They rode through the soybean fields in the places that had already been harvested, up and down the field roads, in the ditch along our road (we have a strict NO DIRTBIKES ON THE ROAD EVER rule) and around both our yard and Cliff's parents' farm yard. These two boys could have both been 10 years old by the fun they were having together. I love that they have this together.

 It would be naive of me to think that we have not influenced Gavin's interests with our own opinions and activities. Afterall, Cliff and I both love motorcycling and each have motorcycles of our own, and we share that love with Gavin. We take him with us in the sidecar when it's a short, daytime ride near home. We took him to the moto-cross races where he first "saw" dirt biking. We live on a farm where he is exposed to machinery and engines all the time and "helps" Cliff and Cliff's dad "fix" things all the time. When he plays pretend with his toy tractors, he talks about carburetors and pistons and grease. We know we have influenced his interests, but he sure seems to love this sport, even if only because it is one more thing he and his daddy get to do together just for fun!

Now that the crop harvest is wrapped up on the farm, and the stalk-chopping and chisel-plowing that need to be done isn't quite as time-sensitive and rushed as the combining was, nearly all our evenings include some time for dirtbiking (along with Cliff preparing for waterfowl hunting, maintenance on farm machinery, prep for spring planting, and cleaning up our yard in preparation for the imminent snow!) A couple of times I have come home from work or errand running and wonder where the boys are since it appears that all of our vehicles are still at home, but they're nowhere in sight. Soon I see the two of them race through the field, around our house, or past the window, and I have to say, I love the sight of it. I love that they're sharing this passion, this fun and relatively harmless sport.

I'm not sure I'll love it as much in another year or two as Gavin is already talking about racing! When Cliff was a kid on a dirt-bike, he was just riding around the farm with a friend. When I was growing up we had dirt-bikes and mini-bikes and my older siblings had motorcycles, but we too, just rode around our place, through the woods and fields with neighbors. I suppose we can only blame ourselves for taking Gavin to the motocross races, but I guess in a way it's good that he thinks he can do anything. He has every confidence that next summer he'll be racing in the motocross races. Afterall, as he says, he'll be four and "four year olds can race dirtbikes at the fair". I'm pretty sure that I'm not ready for that and I think it's okay to not be ready for it. I think if he rides all around the farm next summer when he is four, then the summer when he is five he could try racing. We'll just have to see how next summer goes.

I sure love my handsome, skilled, fast & furious, adorable biker boys.


Anonymous said...

I love that you let Gavin try new things like this - it's awesome! You captured some great pictures too! Looks like a great time was had by all ;)

Anonymous said...

You can't choose their path you can only guide or help steer it. I was like a kid in the candy shop riding around with him and I hope to have many more years of that... And your right dear, 4 is to young to race... but I think by 4 & 1/2 he should be ready ;)

Love me.

Erin J said...

Hi Honey. Thanks for the lovely comment. When you comment, you can choose Name/URL instead of Anonymous and then you can type your name in! Then I will always know it's from you! :) Love you