Monday, May 21, 2018

Hickory Hills Youth Trials

Disclaimer, I am going to get terminology all wrong in this post. This is just my POV after hearing all about it, second hand.

When Jack was a baby, Daniel would show him YouTube videos of various off road sports, especially dirt bikes in the woods. When we moved to the Chattanooga area four years ago, Daniel started taking him to the TKO event in Prentice Cooper every August (basically a dirt bike race through the woods).

This fascination with dirt bikes grew even more when another little boy, who is the same age as Jack, and his dad showed up at our neighborhood park a couple of years ago with a kid's dirt bike.

Daniel and Jack immediately befriended the other family (who also happen to have a younger son who is Isaac's age), and this has grown into a fun friendship over shared hobbies...

They have shared their dirt bike with us; Daniel has shared his dirt bike with the other dad and they have ridden together in the local woods; they took the boys on their first big mountain bike ride to Edwards' Point; and they have even attended a couple of events together (Motocross and TKO). I'm not sure who loves this more, the boys or their dads!

We are so grateful for this unexpected friendship and the bonding over bikes of all kinds.

A few weeks ago I shared a bit about Jack learning to ride his friend's dirt bike, and Daniel subsequently getting the boys their first Trials bike. When Isaac turned three, he was determined to ride too!

Last month, when I shared the video of the boys riding, one of Daniel's old co-workers mentioned a Youth Trials competition that would be held in May (just weeks after our purchase). I told Daniel there was no way Jack would be ready to compete because we had just bought the bike and he had had very little practice (other than pretending to be riding a Trials bike when he was on his mountain bike, which meant riding over obstacles, doing wheelies, and practicing going as slow as possible without putting his feet on the ground).

A couple of weeks after the purchase of the bike, Daniel told me he thought he should take Jack to the event. I still wasn't sure. (Jack had only just gotten boots and had only had a chance to ride in the stiff boots once before this event!).

Well, it turns out he was more than ready. On Saturday, Daniel woke Jack up really early and they headed to Lenoir City to participate in the Hickory Hills Youth Trials competition held by Papa Joe.

As I have learned (I know/knew nothing about Trials bikes until about a month ago), Trials competitions are scored like golf. The lower the score, the higher you rank. You get points for putting your feet down while making your way through the course. The kids did four courses, each one subsequently harder than the one before.

Surprisingly, Jack ended up tying for third (with a twelve-year-old) in terms of points (both scored 10 points). The tie breaker was determined by whoever made it through a course clean (without dropping a foot). The other kid ended up beating Jack, but just barely!

We are so proud of Jack! Best of all, he had a great experience and made a new friend (and they all got medals, which he is super proud of).

It seems like Jack has a natural talent and ability for navigating the trail and tight turns, planning ahead for his next move. With a little more practice, I am sure he will be placing.

My boys are ready to go to the next event (it's fun to compete and it's a good learning experience). I'm pretty sure it won't be long until Isaac is taking his turn on the course as well!

Two of Daniel's old co-workers were at this event to compete in the adult trials, and also to cheer Jack on. Daniel got to test ride one of his friend's bikes, so it was a successful day!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Paddling Through Chick Lock for Mother's Day 2018

Someone stopped me in the hallway at church today to tell me that they really enjoyed my Facebook post about our Mother's Day adventure last week, and encouraged me to never stop adventuring with my kids.

If I'm being honest, I share online because it is an easy way for me to "scrapbook" and I like that my memories will pop up with these little snippets of our lives years from now. But a part of me also hopes that we are inspiring other people to find and pursue their own passions as well.

And if you ever want to chat about our adventures, don't be shy. My kids will tell you all about it from their perspective and Daniel and I are always willing to share the good and the bad with anyone that wants to listen.

For Mother's Day the weather had turned warm and I was hoping to get our on the water in our kayaks for the first time this season.

Daniel suggested we put in on Chickamauga Lake and paddle through the lock to the Tennessee River. Our initial plan was pretty ambitious... we thought we could make it all the way to Coolidge Park downtown.

I was a little leery of locking through with the boys. The fact that the lock is right next to a large dam concerned me. Daniel (who works for Dam Safety on the Chickamauga Lock) told me it would be fine. So I went along with the plan (though we did check mileage and agreed to take out at a 4 mile point instead of 7.5 miles at Coolidge Park).

After church and a quick lunch at Einstein Bagels, we changed clothes and headed over to drop a vehicle at our take out and then back to Chickamauga Lake. We thought could put in at a private marina just north of the lock in Hixson, but learned that was not going to be possible. So we headed back across the dam to the public access on the lake (this added about half a mile to our paddle).

Jack was a trooper and had no problem making his way across to the lock. Daniel called the lock operator (who he knows from work) to let them know we were coming through and we were told to paddle up to the front of the lock to tie off to the floating mooring bit. And then we waited.

Isaac had a brief moment of panic when Daniel had to stand up in our kayak to tie us up, but he settled down to enjoy the ride.

It was a 50 foot drop as the water let us slowly down to the river level. It made me a little sea sick as the lock gate got higher and higher above our heads, but it was a neat experience.

Once we made it through the lock, we padded to the base of the next bridge (a railroad trestle bridge) where we sat in the bridge's shadow and had a snack.

After our snack we continued on to our take out point. About a mile from stopping Jack decided he wanted to be towed behind us so that he could drag his feet in the water and not have to paddle any more. About this same time, Isaac fell asleep in Daniel's lap. Thankfully Daniel had the foresight to bring a pad for Isaac and we were able to lay him face down for the remainder of our time on the water.

It was a great way to spend Mother's Day together as a family. And a much better experience than the last time we tried to take the boys paddling on a Mother's Day! With each year and each adventure, everything gets a little bit easier!

Hickory Hills Youth Trials

Disclaimer, I am going to get terminology all wrong in this post. This is just my POV after hearing all about it, second hand. ...