My son, Shael, turned seven on 10 April. A few weeks before his birthday, I asked him if he had something special in mind. After his usual request for Sushi dinner, he said that he wanted to “do something special with me.” No lie. I was super proud and felt so special. He is such a great kid. Very sweet and loving. I can’t ask for anything more in my big guy.
We discussed possibilities over several days or so, and at the last minute, I suggested that we go somewhere he had never ridden. Little Big Econ State Forest became the call – not just for the fun trails and fun time in the woods, but for the possibility of seeing an alligator. All of our requests were met many times over, and we left with two of the biggest smiles you’ve ever seen on a dad and son.
Over the course of more than three hours, we meandered and navigated our way through everything I know at this maze of unmarked trails through deep and very old Florida. We ended up riding the entire river route, past the last trail near the river into the woods, and to a service road on the far side. And yes, I said, “over three hours.” This is shocker. The trails are not tough for me, but he is seven and riding a 24 inch mountain bike, which is slightly big on him (think a 29er looks big on someone with a small frame). Not once did he complain. Not once did he want to turn back. The only thing we did was stop here and there to gaze at gigantic alligators and sip some water. Here are some photos:
All of this is pretty amazing. I am still blown away at his endurance and technical skill on the bike, but there’s a kicker…
We did not bring any food with us. I dug a gel out of my pack at the half way point. I took just a little to trick my body into releasing some stored energy, and he had the rest. Yes. The math is correct. We rode three hours (mellow pace, of course) on nothing but water and a couple sips of gel.
Here’s the last gator we saw before getting creeped out and heading back to the truck for some snacks and cold water:
Cheers and Happy Birthday Shael. I love you.