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Riding without training wheels

Tommy still laughs when he talks about it.

He was teaching his youngest daughter, Shirah, to ride her pink bicycle without training wheels. As they rolled down the first fairway one evening at Belle Meade, he ran just behind her, steadying the bicycle by holding on to its seat.

He slowly let go without telling her, letting her know she was on her own by running past her smiling. Freaked out for a second, she quickly went back to tooling along.

And she hasn't looked back, even if she hasn't mastered the brakes yet.

There's a metaphor for life in there, but I'm not about to point it out to a dad who's already fretting about his daughters growing up.

And, for the record, Tommy is a veteran at training cyclists.

Twenty-five or so years ago, he helped me learn to ride a bike too - though he and Tommy Bishop chose the pavement of Fluker Street as my training ground. And I have the scars to prove it.

But, just like Shirah - and her sister Rebecca (who has been riding without training wheels for years) - I learned to pick myself up and try again and again.

I'VE SPENT MUCH of the last few weeks on the road.

I've made three trips to the coast in the last three weeks - the first two were overnight jaunts (including one for my sister's wedding), while the third one is my chance to relax for a few days in the sun.

I've got an ever-growing pile of office work to catch up on, so I'm packing my laptop, but I've also got a stack of reading material to fill my hours between eating, sleeping, fishing and playing golf.

I've already started reading Rick Reilly's Shanks for Nothing - the follow-up to one of my favorite books, Missing Links - and John Daly's autobiography is waiting in the wings.

And, of course, I've got a little bit of McDuffie County with me. After years of telling myself that I would, I finally got a Crosstie Walkers CD. Their latest - Headed Home - is filled with original songs and covers several classics (including my favorite "The Old Crossroads).

I heard several of the songs on the CD at the Blind Willie Festival earlier this year, including "Hillcrest Drive," a song about the street bandmembers Tommy and Don Powers grew up on. And it's the street my family first moved to when we came to Thomson 30 years ago.

Like the song says: "Hillcrest Drive will be with us forever; Hillcrest Drive, where our imagination ran free and wild; Hillcrest Drive, the house still stands but the home's still with us all the while."

The song may be about Hillcrest Drive, but those lyrics can apply to nearly any patch of pavement in McDuffie County.

Y'all should be proud of where you are and where our community is going.

And, while you are at it, make sure your training wheels are off, so you won't have any problem going with it.

Web posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006

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