My mountain bike has literally changed my life.
Before I started mountain biking, I’m not sure what I did after work on sunny days while my kids were still at school or day care. Did I just come home and flop on the couch? (Probably). Did I fritter my time away on the computer? (Probably). Did I go straight for snacks and something to drink? (Probably). I don’t really remember. It doesn’t matter.
It started with a small goal that began in April, as the snow was melting and the trails dried out enough to ride bikes on them. I would get good enough to be able to ride safely by myself on the local trail network.
After a few weeks of that, I thought, “I think I’d like to be able to at least ride with a group. I don’t need to keep up – just make it through the ride safely.”
Now I’m keeping up with the group, and I have new goals: I want to be able to comfortably go over big rocks, and not have to get off my bike and walk any of the rooty parts on the steep trails, and by the end of the summer I want to do the “hard” trails with the long climbs and the super steep downhills.
On sunny days at work, I look out the window and daydream about riding my bike. My husband I draw straws to see who gets to go for a bike ride and who stays home with the kids on the weekends. My car is littered with gear. Every conversation inevitably turns to stories of various bike rides and potential next trails to do.
There are other changes too. My legs are covered in scratches, scrapes, and bruises. Some from falling, but most just from scraping against the sharp spikes on my pedals. I’m noticeably less scraped than I was at the start of the season. Another sign that I’m improving as a bike rider.
They may be scratched up, but my legs are also stronger than they were. There are muscles there that I didn’t know existed. I have more energy, I think. I feel a little less sleep deprived.
Four years ago, I could barely get out of bed each morning. I was overwhelmed with postpartum depression following a miscarriage, depression that carried a bit into my next pregnancy and postpartum. In short, four years ago, I was a wreck. I gained a lot of weight (not just pregnancy weight) after my second child was born, and was so relieved that he was healthy, that both my kids are healthy, that I barely gave a second thought to my own health.
A few days ago, I learned that I have a basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) on my face. It’s not the worst diagnosis to receive, but it’s not good news either. I’ve spent a lot of time the last few days thinking a lot about skin cancer, surgery, cancer in general, and my own health.
I look at my kids’ adorable faces and wonder what it would be like for them if something were to happen to me. The thought is too painful to hold in my mind for very long, but I’m glad that I’ve started bike riding, I’m glad that I love to ski, and hike, and be in the outdoors. I’m glad for my health, and even more so for my kids’ health.
Back to that mountain bike again. I’m glad that my mountain bike has changed my life.