Yesterday, I took Josh to ride the levee on our bikes. Last time we went he was so scared he wouldn’t go up the hill from sea-level to levee-level around Leake Ave. As I may have mentioned before, he has anxiety issues. We made it a goal to get up that hill and to the first tower near Cooter Brown’s. If you ride levee, you know how debilitating this fear is because these landmarks are at the beginning of the trail.
It was an exercise in patience. First, Josh feels like that part of the levee is VERY high. There were a lot of cyclists/peds out there on Saturday morning and because of the high water, he felt like he had to ride in the middle of the lane. So there were a number of fear factors bombarding him; water, height, hill and actually biking with traffic. I should have brought him on Monday when there is far less traffic. My bad.
I told him traffic was better on weekdays and I explained cycling protocols and that you have to just stay in your lane and focus on controlling your bike. Wow. This simple goal was so hard for him. It was far more than riding, it was him addressing this anxiety.
Josh made it up the hill at Leake Avenue this time but once we got up there, he was scared he was going to fall off and go into the water which is currently right there at the bottom of the levee. I understood this fear as a true anxiety symptom. I explained that there were no gators in there, and why the river was so high this time and that if he did fall, I’d go get him for sure. We continued to the tower but he had to stop about every block. But we made it!
Due to the traffic, I decided to teach him the calls that cyclists use to manage their own traffic or cycle within a group. By the time we were heading back from the tower goal, a group of cyclists came by and shouted, “On your left!” as they came upon us. As they went around us Josh kept going, he didn’t stop. He got it.
When they cyclists went by us they said “good morning” and Josh said, “thank you!” and “good morning” and he kept pedalling. I explained how cyclists look out for each other and taught him the calls for, “bike up” and “bike back”, “car up” and what to do about dogs. This interaction protocol helped him focus on driving his bike and not his irrational fear of falling into the river. . . thanks to all the cyclists who were so pleasant to us out there. Josh responded very well to their pleasantries and it gave him additional confidence because in his hood, these aren’t the norm. I think he’ll embrace cycling the levee more from now on because of the anonymous niceties showered upon him.
This whole endeavor reenforced my support for the need in our area for the Lafitte Corridor bike path for kids like Josh to enjoy in Mid-City, a place to ride free of car traffic and at ground level.
I took Josh home and went back out to the levee for my usual exercise ride. I saw a barge precariously perched on the tree line near Labarre, which is currently half submerged due to the river levels, putting this barge dangerously close to the levee. I saw the JSPO levee patrol and asked him about this barge which was way too close to the levee for comfort, an adult version of levee riding panic. The officer said they had notified the Coast Guard. Whew.
Later on Saturday, Victory Fellowship had their Vacation Bible School kickoff party on N. Broad. I usually don’t go to the kid’s church activities but I went for a while to support Nick and Josh. I got to see Nick make a 3-pointer in the basketball contest!
I was also diggin’ the barbeque; hamburgers and hotdogs, and the free snowballs, it was worth going to for a while and getting a bit too much sun. They lost the supply of ketchup but that was ok, the only thing I found irritating was that they had rap music blaring so loud from a semi-truck sound system that you couldn’t hear the person next to you talking. Maybe there is a legit purpose for that which I simply do not understand.