Kid favorites have adult appeal

You see them everywhere these days. Their names are Max, Tillie, Sadie, Dixie, Leo, Rocky, Pepper. They are joyful, bounding around on lawns, their entire little bodies vibrating with the sheer excitement of being alive.

Puppies! Everywhere! They are one of the silver linings of 2020's insane dystopian hell-scape. I'm counting my blessings these days. And puppies are an Absolute Good.

There are a few other non-awful things this year. Biking, for one. Biking is THE sport of 2020. Like everyone else, I jumped on that bandwagon, driven by the powerful motivation of: What can you do when there is literally nothing else to do?

I've never been a Spin class person and don't even get me started on the Peloton cult. The last time I climbed on a bike regularly was in 1980. A silver 10-speed; I'd gotten it at Hartley's for my birthday the year before. I rode it to the Hinsdale Community Swimming pool every day, where my friends and I would talk about the new "Blues Brothers" movie and pretend not to look at boys.

Forty years is a long time, but riding a bike is kind of like riding a bike; somehow even my middle-aged body remembered. One would think that, due to the much lighter traffic in town these days courtesy of a global pandemic, that biking would be a breeze. Native Hinsdalean that I am, I don't trust Hinsdale drivers when I'm riding in a minivan, fully armored against them. I certainly don't trust them when I'm on a flimsy lightweight bicycle, no matter how chunky and impressive the wheels might look.

My solution: Centennial Trail. I heard of this magical place courtesy of a friend who is an actual cyclist - the kind of person who owns those wacky padded shorts and a carbon fiber bike that weighs maybe three ounces. Centennial Trail, located off Willow Springs Road, is 12.5 miles of paved, flat, shady cycling heaven. I don't have to worry about people in cars who have only a passing acquaintance with stop signs and speed limits. I can pedal along at my own pace and not be embarrassed.

I can play my Spotify playlists of cheesy '70s music without hearing my kids complain about my questionable tastes. Plus, I get a workout. It's a win-win.

I'm doing my absolute best here, looking for the bright side of things. For example, remote high school means I don't have to schlep the kids to school and worry about getting trapped in the line at drop-off, and therefore my household has much less nagging from Mom before 8 a.m.: another win. But the best part of having no commute to Central means that I have more time to do all the important things I've been meaning to do, like playing with all the new puppies in the neighborhood.

- Susan O'Byrne of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].