Hoyt’s Hill

Child on bike, resting at top of hill


“I DON’T WANT to hear any woohoos. I want to see serious descending.”

He’d just climbed 300 feet over about three-quarters of a mile, and now we were over the crest and he was feeling the start of his reward, rolling T-right onto Spring Hill Road on his little 20″ kids’ bike and aiming it dead-center at gravity.


“ONE,” I’D SAID to him after making him stop with me at the crest. I was holding one finger up. “You’ll have to brake a lot sooner than you usually do. So do it way early, so you don’t shoot into an intersection and get squished by a car. Got it?”

He broke in with something happy and excited about the climb. I nodded and said, “Did you hear what I just told you?”


“What did I say?”

“You said…”


“Oh, right. I have to brake sooner than I think I will.”

“Correct. I’ll help you with that. When I tell you to do something, you have to do it. Got it?”

“Got it.”

“OK, that’s one. Two is, if your bike starts to shimmy, clamp your knees on the top tube.”

“Oh, I do that anyway.” He showed me.

“So clamp, and also slow down. Don’t do it abruptly, or roughly. Nice and easy, controlled. Got it?”

“Got it! Let’s go!”

He was already rolling.


FIRST LEG, HE overshot the stop sign by a couple of feet. A mother on the other side of the intersection, twenty-five feet away, just barely started reflexively pulling her kids aside, but it was mom-protectiveness, no danger, and there were no cars anywhere.

I raised a hand in thanks and smiled, and she did the same.

“He just climbed it for the first time, so now he gets to descend it for the first time,” I said as we started up again from the stop, explaining why I’d been calling out directions.

“Oh, that’s fine,” she said, smiling as we passed, and then it changed to, “Oh, wow!”

We flashed down past a roadie coming up the next grade. He was mashing. We were a kids’ bike whipping downhill and fenders and bags behind it yelling NICE! GOOD JOB! NICE TUCK!

“OH MY GOD!” the kids’ bike shouted at the bottom, as we coasted on a short flat. “THAT WAS SO AMAZING! THAT WAS SO FUN! OH-MY-GOD!”

“Nice job. Left turn coming up. See it? That’s the next descent.”

I saw him searching, saw him find it. “Oh my god. That’s–”

“Stay right,” I said, and we tilted down.


I HAVE LANDMARKS along this hill for braking. Approaching Hoyt’s Hill on Fawn at full tuck and 223 pounds, the white mailbox is too far.


In a couple of seconds, there was a tiny wobble in his rear wheel. I knew what that was, and I saw him ease off and get back inside it. He wasn’t to the intersection yet. Apprehension got me, as if there was anything I could do if he overshot now.

We put our feet down at the limit line together. This time yesterday, all three of us were out charging around a parking lot in a downpour. This kid’s just like me in a storm—he nearly glows with the thrill. He was very nearly that electric now.

“OH MY GOD, THAT WAS SO AWESOME! How fast do you think we were going? Oh, you don’t know, you weren’t going as fast as I was. Oh my god THAT WAS SO COOL.”

“No, I was right there with you. I’m thinking maybe thirty.”


“Maybe. Maybe thirty. Maybe mid-twenties. We’ll see when we get back and see what it looks like on Strava.”

“I think it was thirty! Dad, I could hear it in my ears, like–” he imitated the noise.

I grinned and nodded. Now it was something we both knew. Not just me.

“Okay, we’re going to cross and then stay right. … Go.”


TEN AND a half.

Next summer, adolescence. This summer, “I don’t like being home alone. Can I go too?” and a little red bike and a little white jersey in a tuck.

Going 30.6.


Filed under Bicycling, Bikes, Family, Fatherhood, Favorite, Kids, Parenting

36 responses to “Hoyt’s Hill

  1. That was a big step! My son took his first independent pedals yesterday and it scare me. I can’t yet imagine his first real downhill. Good job teaching, good writing.

  2. Pingback: Woohoo | Town Mouse

  3. trplay

    Very nice read. Thanks for posting.

  4. Gordon Atkinson


  5. drdbt

    Well written, sir! I think you just inspired me to do a bit of writing myself. I’m overdue, you see…

  6. That’s so exciting! What an experience!

  7. Amazing and exciting story!

  8. Excellent. You captured an image of one of the finest moments in parenthood, when a passion is not merely intoduced, but truly understood, and if you are lucky, embraced. As a parent of teenagers myself, I am here to tell you that while the road may get a bit bumpy from time to time memories, like the one you have captured here, are steadfast and just may keep you from giving up when the kid(s) push you to you limits. Great work.

  9. Exciting read. I could feel the wind in my ears …….

  10. I was rather disappointed when it ended. And that’s because it ended. Looking forward to more!

  11. > He just climbed it for the first time, so now he gets to descend it for the first time
    Parenting in a nutshell?

  12. December McIntyre

    I could sense the excitement every step of the way. Hopefully, he continues this ride with you for many summers to come.

  13. albertsoriano2jc


  14. Your words made me feel the experience. Thanks for sharing!

  15. I was a little scared that maybe there would be a crash. So glad there wasn’t. I love the enthusiasm of the young for new experiences. Once as a youth I was on the crest on my bike which was level for about 100 yards. There was a steep drop off on the right and a short brick wall to the left so the visual for me as the rider was nothing but fluffy blue sky. Adding the brisk breeze and the speed I really felt like I was flying. I felt like I had been launched into the sky.

  16. appliedfaithorg

    You need not be told to savor that joy… You already are. Well told!

  17. cynthiajcaton

    Amazing…and again, I am reminded to be thankful that I had 5 girls with very girlie spirits concerning adventures! I felt every ounce of passion and thrill exploding from the two of you! And yet, I fully appreciated the mom at the bottom of the hill…that would have been me! Great story!

  18. First let me applaud your writing skill,I use to write all the time short stories and more but I have not wrote anything in short term in such a long time so I thought I would get back on the game and trial and error. Kudos to the first big ride so it sounds to me very exciting and also very heart stopping as well…
    My son learned to ride his bike never using training wheels let me tell you they were in the bike fit about twenty minutes of course this was not his first bike but bike to learn to ride without training wheels it was…
    we had to take the training wheels of because of where we resided the sidewalks were very bad for a child trying to ride his bike with training wheels so off they came and I did let him know he probably would fall many times before he actually could go any length without falling…
    well was I proven so wrong and do proud he was very young to be challenging this three years of my memory serves me right…
    so all padded up yeah knee, elbow, wrist, of course his helmet… He got on and I stabilize him by holding his seat from behind and as he took off slow he gained speed and I had no choice to let go… To my surprise and amazement he continued onto the stop sign knowing I left go stopped without falling turned his bike around and came back… Now if course we were thrilled and he did this until he was tired… I had to call all my family close enough to come enjoy this moment my father he came about 15+miles to see this saying this isn’t possible… In the end never under estimate our children and his/her ability to completely amaze us… I was completely amazed and never again will I don’t any child and their ability to do what they want… Congrats to your boy and the patients and hidden fear I am sure as any parent would in this biking experience…

  19. That’s so exciting! What an experience!

  20. Reblogged this on monitkhanna and commented:

  21. Striving2Bbetter

    This was a wonderful father son story. I loved it I was transported to the two of you riding that hill. Loved it!

  22. Thank you again, everyone. :) I wish I had more time to respond more personally to every comment.

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