“Enjoy the ride!” These were just three small words but boy did they mean to the world to me.

Last Sunday, my autistic son Tyler (age 27) and I set out to do a long bike ride from our hometown of Basalt towards Aspen. Personally, I was hoping we could reach Woody Creek Tavern which is about 13 miles “up valley”. This means most of the trip would be uphill (about 800 feet in elevation gain). I knew Tyler was capable of making the trek (as well as the downhill return) but as many of you know, autism almost always forces us to have contingency plans.

Tyler’s pace is not fast. He’s very methodical and likes to ride at one speed…moderately slow. This means most other bikers pass us. Most of the time people yell out “passing on the left” before they speed by. A few sound a bell on their bike to make us aware they are coming up from behind. But almost all bikers are focused on getting to their destination as fast as possible.

However, one small group of female cyclists approached us and decided to slow down. We were approaching a section of the trail that had some blind curves so they decided to let all of us get through those turns before executing their pass.

It was at this time that they recognized my lead man (aka Tyler) was special. They asked us if we were having a good day. They said “We are in no hurry. Take your time. All is good.” When the trail opened up and there was a clear path for them to use, they proceeded by us. And as they went ahead, each one of them said “Enjoy the ride!” and gave me some signs that they were proud of what my son was doing.

So why am I telling you this story? Because I truly believe even more members of our community need to slow down, recognize that certain people need our help and understanding and to enjoy the ride. We all know our rides have materially changed this past year. The COVID pandemic has altered the way things operate and our futures are less certain or at the very least more variable. This small experience made me appreciate how some people choose to navigate the world. They take their time, they are thoughtful to others and they focus on the journey rather than the end result.

As we transition to a new season and eventually a new year, I hope you will find joy in this story and take time to enjoy the ride.