22 May West Point Graduation Week – Day Three
The weather sort of cooperated and we got our ride in today with a minimal amount of soaking. It was a great ride, but a little melancholy as well and not because of the gray skies and rain. When my son took his bike from the team room and loaded it into the van, it officially marked the end of his collegiate cycling career. He had spent a lot of time with his team over the past four years, and knew every pot hole in every road around West Point. He’s starting a new chapter, and I’m glad I was there to deliver the first bike during his plebe year, and to be the one who rode with him on his last ride at West Point. It’s hard to believe our first jaunt on that storied ground was a run 49 months ago when he was still a high school senior. In so many ways, he’s changed, but just like four years ago when we talked about the formidable challenges before him that was West Point, we were doing the same today, but for the “real” Army where leadership is no longer an academic or theoretical discussion. For these 22 year olds, decisions over the next four years will no doubt have lifelong consequences, and effective leadership can literally mean life or death. The greatest thing about cycling with my son isn’t the cycling itself. It’s time on the bike that allows for great discussions that might not come otherwise. On the bike, you don’t even have to look eye-to-eye (you can’t), which makes it that much easier to speak freely without inhibition. I am grateful for all these discussions we’ve had, and most of them cover something that makes each detailed conversation memorable. “Remember – we sat at this light forever with the guy on the Harley?” “This is the spot where you took off like you had a turbo boost!” I’m not sure how to replicate these sorts of discussions with people you lead at work, but I am pretty sure it doesn’t happen easily (or effectively) in the office across a desk.