One of the things I love about July is watching the Tour de France. The cycling extravaganza lasts three weeks, with riders in the saddle for up to five hours a day. With so much coverage to watch, I don’t follow any other sporting events throughout the year. I enjoy the beauty of the race, but I also admire the endurance, strength, and determination of the riders.
Unfortunately, the Tour coincides this year with the Lay family “Tour de Oregon”: six weeks, four cities, three kids, and no domestiques. To complicate matters, Savvy has to work part-time during most of our trip.
The Tour de France is challenging – riding a bike for 200km in one day would kill most people – but our three little trainers have tailored a grueling workout for us, too. The twins specialize in a type of resistance training that cannot be found in any gym.
First, they pretend they are dead whenever we want them to do something they do not like. Then, they transform their bodies into jelly and melt onto the floor like 12kg lead weights. Once I hoist one toddler off the floor, he immediately changes into a writhing, stiff-limbed Tasmanian Devil whom I struggle to contain. You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I’m the strongest I’ve ever been.
In addition, all three kids enjoy testing our endurance. This starts around 8am and frequently does not end until 11pm, when they are all finally asleep. Feeding the twins every two hours is daunting enough on its own, but dressing them, loading them into the car, playing with them, exploring with them, bathing them, and getting them to bed also take its toll on us.
To keep up, like many professional athletes, I’ve resorted to doping by consuming copious amounts of caffeinated beverages. Savvy, the natural that she is, somehow manages with only water.
With all the demands placed upon us, I sometimes feel like throwing up my hands and quitting the team. But then, I am reminded of the determination of the riders in the Tour de France and how easy the team captains really have it. After all, eight out of the nine members on each team are riding just to put their leader in the best position to win; it’s like having eight very fit ayis on your side.
On our Tour de Oregon, we have three leaders (the kids) and only two support staff (us). If either of us stops in the middle of the trip, the rest of the team will likely abandon the tour and seek refuge at the nearest five-star resort with babysitting services. So I soldier on, one misguided step after another.
All of this means that I am worn to a nub by the end of the day and can only choose between exciting activities like taking a shower, eating, doing laundry, or maybe grocery shopping before collapsing into bed.
This year, there is no time for reflection, introspection, or even Facebook postification. I’m all in as a parent, athlete, and brain-dead driver on autopilot. Do me a favor and pass the triple espresso; I’m almost at the finish line, but I just need a little pick-me-up to get me there.
This article originally appeared on p46 of the September 2014 issue of beijingkids. To view it online for free, click here.To find out how you can obtain your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illustration: Crystal Liu