Thank You for Riding With Me


Last year I began hiking the PCT under a full moon. For nearly half a year we saw each other every night. Then I came back and I haven’t been very good about staying in touch. Last night I was coming in from a ride when she peeked over the tree line.

It was like seeing a gorgeous ex walk into the room. With my unblinking attention, she glided up, graceful and full. She slipped off her red evening coat and shone a luminous blue. As the sky darkened she shimmered into a pristine white. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I felt simultaneously chagrined and elated. She brings with her a keen awareness of time; she is ever changing, yet ever not. A constant, cycling invitation for self evaluation.

Dictation by life-style has moved me away from so much backpacking, but it’s place has been filled by mountain biking. The Earth Rider guys reminded me what it is to love a trail, then they built me a bike. Since then, I’ve been on a mission to share that. I got Little Sister and Fiancee’ Face out and muddy. I am learning to keep up with the “slow” kids on the Wednesday night “Hump Day” rides up here at SMV, and I am just generally learning…balance.

In the past week the weather has been kind and I’ve gotten to ride nearly every other day. On top of that, I have enjoyed wonderful company on the trails (and I’m not just talking about the ticks). Last week, Lisa came out to take her first shot at mountain biking. She got battle scars and a sore bum and earned the honor therein. I am still green to the sport, and am therefore was too excited to ride to be a good and patient teacher. I had to decide to forgive myself for that; to allow myself to be where I am in the process. Hoping that doing so will teach me the holistic view which will mold me into a good teacher one day. Lisa put up with it, held her ground and covered some trail. You’re a champ, Lis.

On Sunday, Abbey drove up from Warrensburg (not a short distance) to take HER first shot at riding. While Abbey and I graced the same social circles at William Jewell and had chatted a time or two, we had never gotten to know each other. What I do remember of the girl was that she seemed to have a good spirit and sense of humor about things; an attribute which I knew would be useful on the trail.

On our ride I learned she has the Persistence Spirit, a unique sort of self. the kind of kid who pushes to capacity, holds it there, and enjoys doing so. The moment I heard the tell tale bump and tumble of her first fall, I stopped and listened carefully. In my experience of breaking brand-newbies in too quickly (3 down. Literally), the reaction to this first encounter with gravity and plant matter can be telling.

Abbey was laughing. “Got this,” she shouted from the shrubbery. She remounted; Thundercats were Go. From then on she gave courtesy warnings. Declaring, “Tree,” as she rode into one. “Hill,” as we pelted down them or crawled up them. But she kept saying, “I’ve got this,” and every time I saw her face, it was smiling. So I took that to be a good thing.

When I flipped Frank over the top of me as I burrowed my face deep in the dirt she was not put off; rather she thanked me for finding the sharp turn first. That, my friends, is team work.

I took the outting as an excuse to introduce her to my favorite bit of trail (the jumpable little dirt mound). Lucky for me, she liked it too, so we spent a good segment of time riding back and forth and up and down, and squealing and gritting our teeth; the way girls like us are meant to do.

The next evening, dad (Butt Fingers; see PCT Blog for back story) and I went for a ride while Josh and Chloe took Mom (Squaw) for a walk. You have to understand, Butt Fingers is a runner to the core; long distances mostly; so he is used to going great distances on cooperative turf. He has a road bike which he takes to the grocery store and for restful rides along the highway. Several years back, when Squaw was first getting into bikes, in the name of triathlons, she bought him this mountain bike. And now he knows what it is for. I doubt he is necessarily a convert, but I think he had fun. He roared on the uphills and whooped on the down hills. I took these noises to be affirming.

We rode the paved trial back as the sun cast a reddened pathway across the lake to us. We stopped in reverence as he set behind the trees, igniting the sky in hues of pink and orange; then we raced darkness to the car, where the moon caught us; just in time.

For these and others I give thanks; knowing that I am truly blessed. I am staggered by the incredible people in my life,  the vast lands to which we have been entrusted, and so much more and else. Protect us and teach us to share.

Aho.

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