Mountain bikes don’t grow on trees |

Mountain bikes don’t grow on trees

When our friends bought a Kona Stinky Junior mountain bike for their son, my jaw dropped. Spend so much on a child? Dread seeped in as well. I knew what was coming.My son’s pleas met a fairly routine dismissal. Unexpected trouble came, however, from my husband, who, after taking Teddy on his first mountain-bike race, wanted him to have a better bike.”What?!””This is something he’s passionate about,” Mike said. “I’d like to see him be able to do it.”Both boys had good bikes, I protested: bought by a grandmother, selected by Mike. Mike said Teddy’s was too small for him. Then he played his trump card.”Well,” he said mournfully. “I guess he can keep trying on his old hardtail, but it’s really not safe. I just hope he doesn’t get hurt.”We argued about that Stinky Junior, whose cost I cannot bear to relate, for days. I finally buckled: only if it was Teddy’s birthday-Christmas present, plus his birthday present from the other grandmother, and he paid $500 of it.”How’s a 10-year-old going to earn $500?” Mike said.”A lemonade stand,” I said. “Chores. It may take a long time.”We started, premixing three gallons, with Independence Pass, where a friend’s son once earned a fabled $60 selling lemonade.The skies darkened as we rose up Highway 82, and rain blew in, then hail, as we set up our table. We stood shivering, hair plastered across our foreheads; the wind ripped our hand-lettered sign. We sold one glass of lemonade. From that day we learned to mix the pitchers singly, on-site. We set up our stand near home, at the bottom of Red Hill on summer evenings when people hike and bike.Teddy’s first proceeds went toward paying me back for startup costs, but he still had a nearly full canister of lemonade mix. The boys – Teddy’s brother, Roy, helped, for free drinks – learned about presentation, to look alive, rather than slump on a tailgate, to attract passers-by. We added drama, squeezing a twist of real lemon into each cup.Business was slow – we might stand at the bottom of the hill for two hours and earn $7 – but steady. Ten days after starting, Teddy had made $46.By midsummer, he began to flag. Hot and dusty at our stand, he’d say, “Let’s wrap it up.” Taking the wares to Roy’s baseball games, he’d run off to bat balls with his friend Sam, and leave me pouring.”(So and so) didn’t have to pay for his bike!” he eventually argued.”I don’t care. This was the deal.”Weeding, a job offered by kind friends, turned out to be the best money. But by the third time, he said, “I don’t want to weed. I hate weeding. It’s lonely and hard.””You agreed.””You are so hard core!”He had a lucky windfall, receiving $200 for a photo published of him in a catalogue. He also scrubbed the deck on my stepfather’s boat when we visited, began babysitting and, when fall arrived, reffed soccer games – for $5 a pop – for the “under 8” division. He enrolled in a seven-hour Red Cross baby-sitting course, with two of his friends (I didn’t tell them that one lesson would be diapering rubber baby dolls), which led to a weekly sitting job.Eventually we were down to his last $100 to be earned, his last $80, his last $70. And then one day he transferred the funds into our account. It had taken five months.Teddy loved the bike, and Roy inherited Teddy’s old one. They ride all the time, even before breakfast, or by headlamp.The sitting job lasted all winter, and Teddy was able to buy a bow (for archery) that he wanted.I was pleased. It was over.Until last weekend in Moab, when Roy said, “My bike’s too small.”Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at (write GSPI as subject heading).

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