Welcome to the beginning of my next adventure. I’m riding off into the sunrise (not the sunset; this is a beginning, after all).
I have loved bicycling all my life. As a kid, that meant riding around the neighborhood on a banana seat with streamers hanging off the sissy bars. As a teen, it meant riding my 5-speed around Washington Park in Denver. In college, I discovered the joy of riding a road bike on rolling hills to and around Hagg Lake outside of Forest Grove, Oregon. I liked commuting to my first job after college on my bicycle, which is when I first experienced the carefree joy of riding in a skirt. After work, I would cycle a 45-minute loop through the rolling hills and Christmas tree farms surrounding Forest Grove (I didn’t do that ride in a dress, though). Since I was already in the habit of swimming a few mornings each week, I had only (!) to add jogging to my routine to start training for short-course triathlons. From there, I moved to Seattle to start graduate school. Commuting on the hilly streeets and through the rain was a welcome challenge at the eager young age of 24, and I embraced it. Then my mother lured me back to Colorado for a vacation when the very first Ride the Rockies event was announced for June of 1986. With that, my emphasis switched from commuting to touring and all-day training rides. It is hard to say what I loved most: the breeze gliding over me, experiencing (not just seeing) the beauty of Seattle’s lakes and Colorado’s mountains, feeling the power in my legs, the amazement when I’d look back after climbing a couple thousand feet up some switchback turns, or the exhiliration of flying down the other side of a mountain pass at speeds that made my stomach churn!
But then, once I was pregnant with my first child, all of that changed. After all, I’d had a couple of minor run-ins with cars that reminded me how vulnerable we are when traveling by bicycle and sharing the road with vehicles that outweigh us by thousands of pounds. If I rode at all between 1991 and 1997, I don’t remember it. It was the falling apart of my first marriage that got me pedaling again. My rekindled interest arose from reflection on the elements that had disappeared from my life once I’d gotten caught up in mommyhood and career-building. One perk of sharing custody with my ex was that I suddenly found myself with opportunities to get out and ride while my young sons were with their dad. I remember one solo trek in which I took my bike up to Solvang and Los Olivos and toured some wineries by bicycle (this was long before Sideways). It was great to be able to pedal awhile between tastings, and the vintners were plenty happy to hold on to my purchases until I could come back to retrieve them with my car. A few months later I decided to sign up for the California AIDS Ride, to be held in June of 1998, a week-long fundraising group ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. With that new commitment, I was back into training rides and touring. Getting out in nature and turning the pedal crank was a great way to work through the painful transition as I let go of the broken marriage and found my way as a single mom.
I have not done any more big week-long tours since 1998. My ex moved out of state that Summer, and I never felt like my desire to ride could outweigh the importance of hanging out with my young kids on the weekends. Soon my weekends were filled with birthday parties, tae kwon do classes and soccer games. But I did get my little boys out on training wheels, and those cute little razor scooters that caught on in the late 90’s provided a great way for moms like me to roll around the block on wheels. I wasn’t cycling, but I was rolling, at least a little here and there. Perhaps more important, I modeled at least a glimpse of the cycling lifestyle for them. I had figured out I could still commute on my bike by loading the roadie into the back of the minivan, parking the van near the kids’ school after drop-off, and then riding in to the office from there. I saved my day-long touring rides for summer, when the boys were off visiting their dad.
To be continued . . .