How It All Started
It goes way back. Funny how that is, isn’t it? The stories we begin in the present often have their origins in the past. For me, this story begins way back, as a teenager, still living at home. I can still hear my mother saying the words that she said all during my high school years. Her mantra was, “You need to develop your own interests. You need to decide what you like. Stop creating your interests based upon the person you are dating at the time. Figure out what it is you like and what you are about first.”
Well, we all know how well teenage daughters listen to their mothers. I was no different. I figured I had a better read on the world than my mother did. As a young, optimistic, overly confident and naive individual, I figured I could do better than she had. Why listen to my parents? I now know differently.
Two divorces and four children later, I’m thinking my mother had it right all along. First off, I’m looking at all she accomplished given her life choices and often I think I’m not half the person she was. There’s more to that story, health issues, history and whatnot, maybe I’ll tell it later, but the reality is, my mother was amazing. She overcame health issues, financial issues, and serious traumas (that were not her fault) and she not only survived, but she succeeded in making a great life for herself and those she loved. What’s more, she remained positive and optimistic rather than becoming bitter and resentful. I suspect she knew what she was talking about when she encouraged me to figure out what I was all about.
Cycling Is Me
My mother passed away years ago. My father before that. I now wish I’d paid more attention and asked more questions when Mom was around. I often feel like I am recreating the wheel in this life I live as a single mother of four children. My mom really did have it all together. This biker chick thing is no exception. My mother told me I should develop my own interests, but truth be told, I actually learned to enjoy biking with a college boyfriend. She was right. What Mom missed was the fact that while growing up in rural eastern Oregon, I learned to love biking for the freedom it gave me. Meeting a guy in college who enjoyed that same experience was a bonus. It wasn’t me adapting to please some guy. It was me capitalizing on someone else’s knowledge of something I loved anyway. The guy in college didn’t pan out for the long haul, but I learned a great deal about cycling from him and those lessons I carried with me. I learned how to ride distances, to draft, and I eventually got to the point that my bike and I were one. I no longer felt the hardness of the seat or the mismatched size of the bike for my height (it was probably an inch too large). I simply rode. I love the feel of the wind in my face, the pavement passing beneath me and the exhilaration of my body pushing to reach the crest of the next hill. After college, I ended up living, for a short time, in the San Francisco Bay Area where I biked everywhere. It was my only form of transportation. Upon the death of my dad, I found myself back in my hometown and one of the ways I kept myself sane in that small rural place in the middle of nowhere was to ride.
2010, A Year of Firsts
All good things must come to an end, I suppose. Along with the supposedly better good things called marriage and kids, the cycling thing dropped off the radar for me about 20 years back. I believe this was due, in part, to the fact that I was not entirely clear about what was important to me, and also due to the fact that I was in a marriage where being clear about what mattered to me wouldn’t have mattered. The bike exited my life shortly after the marriage began and I have not ridden once since the late 1980’s. This year, 2010, is memorable for me. It is the first year in my adult life that I have owned a new bike of any quality. It is also the first year that I’m back on the road again, back in the saddle…however, you want to refer to it…I’m doing something that I truly enjoy. I’m riding again. I’m learning that there’s no way to look good after the helmet is on your head. I’m learning that padded pants make a big difference and they are much more expensive now. I’m learning where to ride, how to ride, (no, not who to ride) and it is a whole new world from cycling 20 years ago.
And this blog? Well, it is all about the obstacles, the challenges, the victories, and the joy that a nearly 50-year-old single mother of four can have by simply deciding she’s going to take some time to take care of herself . It’s about a mom who decided that just because she is a mom, doesn’t necessarily mean she must give up on her dreams. Moms tend to give all to make it happen for those they love, often to the detriment of their own well being. I am no exception, but more about that later. You’ll hear about my experiences learning to ride this machine that is currently more powerful (and more expensive) than anything I’ve mounted in a long time. All I can say , after only three days back in the saddle, is, “Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore!” The technology has changed. My bike is a hybrid and not a road bike. I can tell you all the specs on it but even I don’t know what it all means yet. All I know is this is a great bike. It is probably a bit more than I’m ready to tackle with my current fitness level, but easily something I can grow into. My body has a boatload of wear and tear on it and I’m not exactly 119 pounds of triathlon muscle anymore. It’s going to be interesting learning how this machine I purchased just about two weeks ago works. It’s going to be interesting seeing if my body can handle it. After all, in my mind, I’m still that 22-year-old riding along rural roads. Sadly, the female 40+ body I currently have doesn’t always match stride with my memory. It is definitely going to be an interesting journey.
That’s what I hope this blog will become, a record of the journey. I’m convinced that the external world that we all see, feel, touch and experience, reflects a deeper, more meaningful reality. This isn’t just about getting back in to cycling, or riding a great bike. The process that got me here, the significance of it all, and where the road leads from here is not just my story. It is everyone’s story. The specifics might be different for each of us, but the dreams, the challenges, the heartbreaks and the victories are all ours to own and share. Maybe something in my story will resonate with something in yours. If so, I hope you’ll share it.
Posted on October 11, 2010, in Goals, Life, Single Parents and tagged aging, biking, cycling, dreams, life, memoirs, moms, mothers and daughters, mountain bikes, single parents, singles over 40, Specialized Ariel Elite. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.