The thing is I didn't let that stop us trying. I know he is still at an age where he really can't judge the fuel in his tank enough to turn around early enough to ensure we get home, normally I make the decisions about distance to circumvent this, in this case I wanted to give him more ownership so I created a contingency plan.
He set a goal. He wanted to get to the park which was the final turn around point and my first choice was not to talk him out of it. I knew he couldn't get there and back with the extra to the start line, but he didn't need to; Nanna would pick him up. He's young, he's strong and he was pretty determined that he wanted to get there so I thought he might manage to make it the 9 km, or so, all up that it would entail.
In the end he didn't ride to the park. Instead he made it to the second turn, around point which was, around 6kms, or about 3/4 of the way there. Unfortunately he exhibited a bit of dodgy risk assessment and had a crash.
That is going to happen when you're still 3. Anyway the first response marshal was sure he had a bruise on his cheek so was pushing to call first aid for ice. I let him even though I was sure what he was talking about wasn't a bruise just dirt in his skin coloured nose zink, I was right. It wasn't until we were waiting for first aid that I noticed what I was dabbing on his forehead wasn't a round puncture but a 1 cm line break in the skin that was going to need a steri-strip to stay closed. All told it took about half an hr from incident to treated.
I checked the next check point wasn't far ahead of us, I was almost certain it wasn't but didn't want to create a situation where he felt like he had failed because he tried but didn't reach it. Although First Aid was pushing a bit to pack us in a car back to the rally point, for no other reason than they were probably convinced the last place he would want to be is back on the bike, I gave him a choice. I could call Nanna right then or we could go on to the next checkpoint so he could get his stamp. He had already asked to keep going while we were waiting for First Aid so I was pretty sure of his choice but as I said it was about giving him ownership of the journey.
We got there. The check point had been packed up because we were in the last group off the start, add a half hr to that and they thought everyone was done, but the girls came back and stamped his card and made a bit of fuss of him. Regardless of from being the proud owner of a split lip and 2 shiny new steri-strips to the forehead he had a great day.
Would he have felt differently if I unnecessarily took control and forced the day to end in a heap on the side of the road?
Honestly who knows.
What I do know is next year he'll make it to the park if he chooses to.
In fact I will be sort of surprised if he doesn't make it there and back.