I was finishing up my last lap around the Veloway when myself and another cyclist came upon a small boy, who appeared to be about five, sitting in the middle of the track. His bike lay on the road next to him, no one else was in sight. As we passed, the other rider and I both spoke at the same time: "Are you okay?" "Do you need help?" "I have a question," the boy said. The other rider, seeing that the boy obviously wasn't hurt, continued to pedal on while I, somewhat amused, unclipped and stopped. "Okay, what's your question?" "Can you go that way?" he asked, pointing towards the crossover between sections of the track. "You can only go one way," I said, "so if you turn here you'll have to go back the way you just came from. I don't think you want to do that. Here, let's get your bike out of the middle of the road so you don't get ran over." After a couple of more questions about directional flow around the Veloway, and more suggesting (okay, nagging) from me, he finally stood up, picked up his bike and pushed off to the side of the road. "Stand over there in the sun so you don't get cold. Where's your mom or dad?" "Mom's up that way, at the finish, and my dad and sister are back that way so I guess I'm kind of in between them." "Well, let's wait right here for your dad and sister then, they'll catch up soon." After a minute or two at the most, his mother rolled up. She gave me a 'thank you' wave as she approached and I returned with a 'no problem' wave as I pedaled off. "What happened," I heard her say, "did you fall down?" "I got behind," he said.
I see it all the time at the Veloway when parents ride with their kids. Junior (or Junior-ette) stalls out on an uphill section, gets off the bike and begins to push, and with so many blind curves on the track it's real easy for parents to ride blissfully along, getting much farther ahead than they intended. I also see the same situation with adults. It's usually where guys are supposedly out on a fun ride with their girlfriends/spouses but get all aggro when someone passes them and they end up leaving their honeys behind while attempting to keep up with the person who just passed them. Dudes, leave your testosterone at home when you ride with your girlfriend. She'll be happier and you'll be happier later - drop her, and you won't need that testosterone for at least a week.
Here are a couple of tips for riding with less experienced riders: Let them lead. Not only can you keep an eye on things, but they'll get a sense of confidence and discovery. Ride beside them. The person(s) you ride with probably are going along for the social aspect (and not a forced march) and it's hard to communicate when you're 50 feet apart. And lastly, if you ride with your kids or significant other look over your shoulder more often than not to make sure they are still there.