This telling has two starts. Firstly with a borrowed Saracen MaxTrax. Heart of hearts I think she only rode it to humour me. This woman has always been way out of my league so any thoughts of her trying to impress me should be banished right now. That first ride out in the Scottish highlands on a borrowed bike two sizes too big broke the MTB cherry and a spark lay unkindled whilst “proper” careers took over.
A correctly sized Kona arrived next but still those pesky careers kept getting in the way. Whilst she cracked on with a real job and that little Blast sat lonely in the garage, I opened a bike shop. In those early days, each and every Saturday she would come and help out serving customers. After only a day or two of admitting she couldn’t answer on how things felt or rode she decided this needed to change. So we built a new bike. This wasn’t quite the epiphany it seems. There was still a few rainy and cold Sunday mornings where cold toes had to be dragged into cycling shoes.
But things started to change. A passion was kindled. Post ride pub bragging and over exaggerations, with the inevitable endless debate of tyre choice her own thoughts spoke loud and true. Borrowed opinions no more the confidence of her choice ringing through. Soon “where to” evolved into “I reckon we hit Birkby, then Nab to Wiggly Wiggly. It just flows better that way round.”
Her own circle of riding friends, mostly female, began to expand. “I’m off out with Kat and co Sunday, you coming?” Adventures, silliness, racing, dragging me along the way renovating a passion for the stuff I had long ago thought done with. In a, far too short for my liking, space of time her fitness surpassed mine. Long winter miles she smiled through, dragging my arse behind, desperately trying to half wheel along.
In slow motion I saw it happen. Front wheel slipping off an unseen rock. An over application of the front brake catapulting my everything over the bars onto hard ground. A dreaded cyclist right of passage achieved and a collar bone in two pieces. The hard won fitness was not to be lost, the turbo was dusted off and I lost valuable clothes drying space.
There is a finite number of firsts to be shared in riding and as we bumbled along through pedalling life we happily picked them off together, many of her own achievements surpassing my own. Yet in the Karavankas mountains of Slovenia I had maybe the last time to see the wonder of something new and unknown. Proper big mountain riding, the peaks way above us and alpine singletrack as far as the eye can see. Feeling so incredibly tiny amongst ancient hill sides. Cooking brakes, arm pump and riding way beyond your comfort zone I got to share the excited chatter and verbal exhalation of new-found adrenaline one more time.
A long suffering English teacher of mine repeatedly asked me “What is this piece trying to achieve? What’s it’s purpose? Who are you writing for?” Sat bashing away at this keyboard realisation hit me. Pride, love and pure unadulterated bragging. Yes I have an awesome passionate riding wife.