The night before, I gauge how fast to go
without risking a fall.

After I dust off my sixty-year-old Schwinn,
troubleshoot the rack, load the bikes,
skip the sunscreen, stick a handkerchief
in my pocket (a makeshift tourniquet,
just in case), we hydrate.
After we discover my girl’s model
won’t sit on the rack,
we locate the lever
that pushes the back seats forward
and hoist my bike inside the trunk.
We adjust our helmets,
fill our water bottles,
and drive to the trailhead.
We use the rest rooms at the Y,
note our matching aqua jerseys,
and take off!

The tires whirr and the wind hums
as we breeze up and down slopes
past cone flowers, Queen Anne’s lace,
morning glories, thistle, clover, and fleabane
over the winding Cave Run Creek
further and further out of town
until we cross Iron Works Pike
into the Horse Park.

On the way back past cornfields, construction,
and horse farms, I coast whenever I can.
My daughter’s seat is too high on her brother’s bike.
My bike gears slip. I breathe air into the bottom of my lungs.
We hail a pair of cyclists who say they’ve passed us twice.

We glide back to the parking lot side by side.
And I didn’t fall off.