Monday, September 1, 2008

30 mile bike ride

We enjoyed a wonderful three-day weekend in the Pennsylvania Laurel Highlands. Our accommodation at the Glades Pike Inn was truly enjoyable. I think it is the best value bed and breakfast I’ve found in the United States. We had a large and comfortable room, with a fireplace, ceiling fan, sofa and private bathroom. We had enough space for the crib and plenty of room to walk around. Several of the walls were made of old brick and we looked out into a cornfield. It was such a treat to enjoy the comfort and history (and huge, delicious breakfasts) while spending time with River. The helpful friendly hostess and the very reasonable price were just bonuses.

On Sunday we took a 30-mile bike ride along the Allegheny Passage. Since most of the path was flat and seven miles of it was downhill, barely requiring pedaling, under normal circumstances it would have been an easy and enjoyable time. Taking along an 8-month-old was an experiment though. I regularly take River on the 15 minute ride to the pediatricians, but we hadn’t gone any further than that. Most of the time he holds up, but a few times he cried pretty loudly.

The plan for the long bike ride was to take it easy. We’d stop whenever he wanted to fed, be changed, or have a rest. The first mile or two went well and the scenery was beautiful, so I looked forward to a good day. That quickly changed though and River began to whimper, then cry, then scream. Since it was near his usual naptime, I hoped he’d complain a little, then go to sleep. No luck. I stopped on a bench and breastfed him, then we continued again. But he complained again, loudly and non-stop.

Passing bicyclists gave me sidelong glances.

“Boy, he’s sure angry,” one said. “His veins are popping out from his forehead.”

I’m a horrible mother thoughts ran through my head. Especially when my friend asked River, “Do you have a mean mommy? Yes, you do.” We were only five miles into the trip. Would there be another 25 miles of this? I didn’t want him to suffer, but we had to get to the other side somehow. I knew it was his naptime and I felt bad he was missing it, but we can’t be home from 11-3 every day. Every so often, he needs to adjust to another schedule.

So we took an extended River break. Luckily my friend was accommodating. When her friend called on her cellphone, I was glad she was occupied. I breastfed River, I let him sleep in my lap for at least 15-20 minutes. We discussed the possibility of a bottle, but knew it would fall and the nipple would get dirty on the gravel path. We wished there was a way to tie the bottle to the childseat. We decided to offer a bottle of formula, after the breastfeeding, to try to fill him up and settle him down.

It worked. From that point on, he was great. We didn’t know how long it would last, so I raced ahead of Mark and our friend, trying to cover as much ground as possible while River was going well. We made several more stops along the way, usually for a feeding or diaper change, but sometimes just to let him rest from the movement. None of the stops were as long as the first big River break though. He made it through patches of sun, though long, dark, cold tunnels, and through the wind rushing past him as we sped seven miles downhill. He started to cry during the last mile or two, but then we were close enough to food, rest and sleep that I knew it wouldn’t last long.

So we made it. We took much longer than usual and couldn’t continue on the additional 16 miles downhill to Cumberland. But we had a great day – riding along a beautiful path through bounteous greenness. And River held up – not only through the bike ride, but through three days without any substantial naps.

We had fun, he had lots of mommy and daddy time, as well as some new experiences. Tomorrow we revert back to River’s schedule taking precedence. Hopefully he’ll forgive us the interruptions.

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