Perfect Joy Plus

Charlie riding at the Ride For Autism 2010
The title of this post is brought to you straight from Jim's phone: He texted 'Perfect joy plus' to me while he and Charlie were out riding bikes at this year's Ride for Autism here in New Jersey. 

This was the 3rd ride that Jim and Charlie have participated in. They did their first ride in 2004 when Charlie was 7 years old and his bike was still small enough to fit in the trunk of the black car (with part of the back seat folded down). As most of the ride was on well-trafficked suburban Jersey streets, Jim quickly decided quickly that they'd best go 'off course' and found back roads and residential streets to explore. The second time Jim and Charlie did the Ride for Autism was in 2006; this time, Jim decided that he and Charlie would try out one of the Ride's actual bike routes. They encountered, or perhaps you might say they were encountered by, a number of cyclists, who maybe didn't quite realize the import of a kid on the autism spectrum riding his bike in the Ride for Autism and who were not so pleased to find Charlie making his slower way on the course, with Jim riding behind or very nearby—prompting Jim to point to Charlie busily riding his kid-size bike and say 

'That's why we're here.'

We had a lot of fun on all the rides (my parents came along for the 2006 one, too). And then, a four-year hiatus.

One reason was a difficulty in the area of transporting two bikes, our trusty bike rack no longer being able to hold the weight of Jim's and Charlie's bikes. (Growing boy, bigger bike.) We talked about getting a hitch and a car rack attached to the back of the black car but these thoughts fell by the wayside as parking-the-car-challenged-me worried about having to drive a car with something extra permanently sticking out and impeding my vision. Etc..

Another reason was that, on the exact date of the ride, Jim had a conference or I had something that couldn't be rescheduled.

And then, too: For the past two and maybe more years, we just didn't know how Charlie would fare riding his bike in an unaccustomed place. Last year, 2009, there was way too much neurological storm business going on of a very unpredictable sort and so we let the rides past.

We'd met Andrew Abere, who started the ride, some years ago. Just a few weeks ago, he contacted me to ask me about the ride and I texted Jim 'what do you think'; Jim said 'sure'; and we said to each other:

Time to get a bike rack on the white car.

For times do change: Charlie has been doing real good. And, I've become much more proficient at parking

(Jim always has been more than proficient.)

So we got a rack on the white car last Tuesday. We agreed we'd figure out how to put the bikes on the rack before Saturday and take a drive around, just to be sure.

Of course, the first time we actually tried loading the bikes onto the rack was Saturday morning at 8.30am. Charlie had gotten up at 7am and hastened me out for a morning walk. He dozed a little in the car while Jim and I (summoning all the engineering know-how in my genes) loaded up the two (same-size) bikes, secured them with straps, and tied the wheels to the bike frames. Then it was down the Garden State Parkway.

Charlie was ready to go soon as we parked the car. 

Jim unloading the bikes
 He rode his bike over to wait with me while Jim got his and Charlie's numbers, 125 and 126. 

Charlie ready to ride at the Ride for Autism 

(Charlie didn't want to wear his but obviously he wasn't going to be going it on his own.)

#126 & #125 

Then Jim and Charlie were off.

Jim and Charlie bike off at the Ride for Autism

I hung around, had a bagel and coffee, checked out the program for this October's Autism NJ conference, was very glad to run into some people I hadn't seen in a long time, found out about a website called ChallengeAutism (more on this to follow).

Jim and Charlie did 12 miles, some of it on the course and some of it off the course, and some of it with other families. Charlie wasn't the only rider who was 'why we're here.'

Charlie and Jim post-riding at the Ride for Autism

He tried a little Gatorade (and handed it back to Jim in favor of plain old water) and then looked winsomely at two large cakes. 

Charlie checking out the amenities at the Ride for Autism
Oh dear, there's not one but TWO sheet cakes 

The cakes weren't going to be cut till after lunch and Charlie was asking for 'diner, diner.' He said 'no' to the Golden Arches and we decided to head towards the basic direction of home and try a local diner we've only been to a few random times. Once we neared it, Charlie said 'no diner' and then called for Mexican fast food takeout—it did just so happen that the diner we had stopped by is on the way to a branch of that Mexican place.

We ate at the restaurant.

Charlie liking his burrito lunch 

We went home and Charlie went up to his room to rest; came down and had a 'second lunch' (sushi……); used the computer. Took an early evening nap. Woke up to Phil Schaap discoursing on Mary Lou Williams. Said 'yes' to Jim's suggestion to go for a walk with a smile.

One very fine day. Plus.

Huge thanks to Andrew Abere, Ride for Autism, and AutismNJ for a fabulous day!

6 Responses to “Perfect Joy Plus”
  1. Jill says:

    Sounds like a good day. It’s good to see Charlie was able to eat at a sit down restaurant.
    Do you think Charlie would enjoy listening to the late Jean Shepherd? Over 1,000 of his old broadcasts from the 60s and 70s on WOR are online.

  2. Niksmom says:

    Such a wonderful, wonderful report! Go, Charlie & your tight team o’ three!

  3. emma says:

    A very fine day! I had to laugh about the bike rack, we are the same when it comes to “practice runs”.
    It’s hard to believe Charlie is just turned 13, he’s grown so tall, and the last pic in the diner! teenager/handsome young man.
    Charlie learning to ride a bike was such a great idea. The independence, self confidence and freedom-to-move(at speed) – you can’t knock it.

  4. autismvox says:

    A friend saw him at the Ride for Autism and did a complete double-take. I suspect people see me and don’t exactly get what I mean when I say ‘my son is really tall’……
    Will look into Jean Shepherd, thank you!

  5. Eileen says:

    Yay Charlie and Jim!! Sounds like a wonderful ride.!

  6. autismvox says:

    Sorry we missed you that one year you went–someday we will meet up!

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