Congratulations Asheville on Bikes who have not only worked hard to get greenways in Asheville, but have inspired hundreds of people to ride.

The Bike of the Irish this past weekend boasted hundreds of green, tutu-clad riders of all ages and abilities to cruise our fresh bike paths and greenways. Every holiday we can count on meeting in front of city hall for a group ride. The costumes are a lot of fun, but it sure is great to have a traveling boom box to groove us along.

While people are paying good money to run 5ks, we are making the porch sitters grin as we wind our way through neighborhoods with The Wedge as our final destination. I’ve learned that you can do anything when there are cold beers waiting at the end.

My 8-year-old was ok with wearing green, but he wasn’t going to have a shamrock painted on his face. He also enjoys riding sweep, causing everyone to shout much encouragement up the hills. His game of “I don’t know how to pedal a bike” inspired me to take the steep route, up Hazzard Street and over Beaucatcher Mountain on the way home.

“Mom…can I walk my bike?” he asked.

“No way, duder!!” was the reply he knew was coming. “We’ll take a break at the top!”

The ride there was magnificent as we cruised down the mountain into town. My 4-year-old was on the tag-a-long, which is his new favorite bike, except for how the seat hurts his bottom. If only his legs were a couple inches longer…and if he pedaled once in a while. Thank goodness he only weighs 30 pounds. He has a penchant for speed though, which really makes my heart smile. I wait for his cue, “Mommy, go fast!” and then let it fly as he screams, “YAHOOOO mama! Yeahhhhh baby!”

I knew this would be the shining moment of the entire ride and dreaded the inevitable fit soon to come. It came just as the bike parade took off. First I helped a beautiful, butterfly wing-clad damsel in distress change her flat tube. We needed to speed off to catch the group, but little Mr. Four decided that he could no longer ride the bike and expressed it with screams and tears as passersby looked admonishingly at me. A few moments on the bench alone impressed even more onlookers, but finally he was ready to ride.

It’s amazing how hard it is to find 200 people riding bikes in a small town. At least pedestrians knew what we were talking about when we asked if they’d seen a pack of riders. We caught up in Montford where just as we stopped to rest the crowd took off once again.

The greenways were beautiful in the way they followed main routes far from the reach of angry motorists. By the time we rolled up River Road and across the tracks my little tag-a-long was making noise again. “Mamaaaaaa…I want to go to sleeeeeep!” he said as I watched the crowd heading up steep Waynesville Avenue. So I headed three blocks over to The Wedge instead, waiting for the crowd to return, never really finding all of my friends who thought I didn’t make it. Little man bumped his butt along the gravel until we parked and as soon as I took his helmet off, he fell asleep in my arms. The next 90 minutes was bliss as I drank cold beers in the shade while he slumbered. Beer and naps after a ride. How much better does it get than that?

Well I’ll tell you. Because as soon as he woke up he was ready to ride again. He just wanted to be home. So back on the bike, and across town we went as he cheered me on, his brother keeping up without too much begging from me. Thank goodness we had bike lanes to follow. Thanks Asheville on Bikes. Thanks Claudia Nix.