Olaia, pushed her bicycle out of the garage and down the sidewalk towards the park.

"Daddy, this is hard.  The bike is heavy.  It wants to pull me down the hill."

"Just hang on little girl.  You’re doing fine.  Okay, stop there.  Let’s wait for Jaimito."  Jaimito was pulling his Hot Cycle, trying to hang onto his Matchbox cars at the same time.  His little desires had overwhelmed his abilities and cars began to fall.  

"Daddy! Help me!"

"Here, let me put them in my pocket.  You think you can manage your Hot Cycle?"

"Yeah," he said as he picked up his "beep beeps" and I put them in my pocket.

Olaia was excited.  She hadn’t tried to ride her bike for a couple of months now.  Between the afternoon rains and the scorching summer sun we just hadn’t gotten the bike out to ride.  Actually, since I had been steadying and running behind her, it was quite a workout and since I am drenched in sweat within seconds, I’d been lazy.  "Olaia, it’s too hot today, we’ll bring your bike next time.  Olaia, it’s too wet today.  We’ll bring your bike next time."  Well, a month or two had passed and I was starting to feel more than guilty for not biting the bullet.

Today, though, the conditions were just perfect.  The day was overcast and gray.  It had rained throughout the morning and into the early afternoon, just late enough to stave off the heat, and short enough that by 6 pm it was dry. 

I was still going to get drenched from the exertion though, but I was ready.  Olaia pushed her bike the long way around the park to avoid the stairs leading to the grassy field.  Jaimito followed her and quickly took to a sprint.  He looked like he was skipping on air as he flew around the park at a breakneck pace.  I winced as I imagined him tripping and landing on the jagged asphalt.  But he made it.  I’d never seen that little boy run so fast.  He jogged up to me.

"You were fast little man!  You ran so faaaast!"

"I was fast, huh?  I’m faster."  And took off again to show me it wasn’t a fluke.

Olaia approached pushing her bike. "Daddy, I’m gonna do it today.  You watch."  She took her bike to a corner of the grassy park and labored trying to get her pedals in the right position to start off.  After five minutes of watching her struggle, I offered a suggestion.  "Why don’t you start up the hill just a little bit.  Just a little bit so it’s easier, but not so high that it’s scary or anything."

"Okay, Daddy."  I helped her up onto the bike, adjusted her pedals, and gave her a little push and let go.  Laura had told me that she’d practiced falling the last time in the park, so I hoped that at least she’d go a few feet and jump off.  But as any father, I let go with a little trepidation.  Oh, my poor baby.  I hope she doesn’t crash.

Olaia, went three feet, then six, then twenty, then fifty, and onward all the way across the park, where she gracefully dismounted as she ran out of steam.  I could hardly contain myself.  "Olaia! You rode your bike!  Oh my, that was awesome.  How did you-  how did you learn-  wow!"  And I applauded her.  She beamed her bashful smile, pleased but a little surprised herself.

Now she was determined.  The next pass she hopped up on her bike and pushed off with no intervention.  She looked like a pro, like she’d been doing it since forever.  Again and again and again, she made her way across the park on her bike, beaming and proud and as happy as could be.

She would have gone all night, if I hadn’t drawn it to a close.  Her little face was beet red by this point, her sweaty hair matted down by her helmet and sticking to her face. 

"Okay, Daddy," she said, if you insist.  Such determination in that little girl. 

And in France today, Lance Armstrong launched his bid for a seventh straight victory in the Tour de France with a powerful performance in the opening time trial.

Look out, Lance, Olaia’s coming for you!