So far college has been a pretty interesting change for Mireya. She’s commuting to Texas State, something I’m glad I trained her to tolerate at a very young age. Since she was first buckled into a car seat, she has found herself traveling all around the Hill Country for hours.

She knows where to be wary of the deer (not that it’s a guarantee that one won’t just head butt the side of your car). She knows what roads are likely to have a tractor show up, slowing everything to a crawl. She knows how far away a clean bathroom is from every major county road in a 40-mile radius. That’s our kid. She’s a windshield warrior.

Mireya has also been extremely organized about her college schedule. She has carefully researched every professor. She knows exactly what courses to take and how to get the best deal for books. She has a notebook set up that has me rethinking my own work briefcase. In fact, the bulk of her college experience, she’s managed to nearly completely optimize everything. It’s been a real marvel, and slightly worrisome to watch. After all, in my experience, life does not lend itself to endless levels of optimization, and college is as good a place as any to learn that.

So I was not completely surprised when college life did throw her one curve ball — distance. Her classes are as far flung from the commuter lot as you can get. Texas State is more compact than some campuses but it is in the Hill Country. There are major hills all over the place. In fact, it may be the only place where getting to class is uphill both ways.

Realizing she’d have trouble getting to class, even with the shuttles, she decided she’d have to buckle down and ride a bike if she was going to have a prayer of getting to class on time.

Back in the old days, Mireya liked bike riding but wasn’t a fan of riding bikes uphill. Or downhill. Or on the road. She was pretty happy doing a couple loops of Landa Park, but that was about it. Now she was having to confront both steep hills and roads.

Still there was no other solution. So we broke out her sister’s old hybrid bike, fixed the tires, oiled it up, added a reflector, transferred over the bell from her old bike, and bought a carrier for the car. In no time at all, Mireya learned how to fix the gears (“bikes are all just screws, apparently” she told me) and researched how best to train to tackle hills from some marathoner on the internet.

It’s going pretty well, except for one thing. There’s only one thing she can’t optimize or solve with research — a wet winter. Having the rain fly into your eyes as you peddle uphill on your way to your class all the way on the other side of campus is not one of the things they put on those fancy college brochures. But it will be one of the many things she’ll have to just pedal through.

Winter Prosapio is a writer, a wife, and a working mom of two girls, two cats, and one ridiculously enthusiastic terrier mix.

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