I’ve been living in Southern California so long that the arc to my weekend days is as predictable as a Christmas movie. Living in a place as warm as this, it’s possible to ride first thing in the morning, even during the height of winter. That’s handy for logging miles during hours when you aren’t likely to be missed. Even before I became a parent, the idea of going out for five hours at noon would have been a detriment to my future survival. This, from a guy who is fond of saying he negotiated his hall pass at the beginning of the relationship, not mid-way through.
Becoming a parent changed my riding in a number of ways. They didn’t all happen at once, and some were more deliberate than others. Before Mini-Shred was sleeping through the night, I’d occasionally find post-it notes on the mirror in the bathroom informing me of the night’s festivities and asking if maybe I wouldn’t mind not heading out for a ride so that my wife could sleep an extra half hour or so to make up for the two or three with which the toddler absconded. And while that change was somewhat predictable, there was another I simply didn’t account.
Plague. Contagion. Flu. I knew it would happen, but I never figured it would happen with such frequency and severity I’d be knocked rungs down the fitness ladder. I can’t say I take it in stride, but I’ve learned not to grind my teeth anymore. I may not be any happier about it, but my dentist is.
It’s said that the first child changes a mother’s life and the second child changes the father’s. This is one of those many sayings about parenthood that masquerades as a wink, but contains a land mine. Our second did change my life. In more ways than I’ve been able to inventory. The most obvious change to my cycling life has been that I haven’t been able to attend the early morning group rides that were once as fixed a part of my routine as my shower was. I could say much about this change, but the most relevant detail is that I’m at peace with it now for reasons that surprise me.
What hasn’t changed is the arc of my day on the weekend. I’m still able to ride anywhere from three to five hours both days of the weekend. As our progeny develop, this may not always be the case. Or it may be that I need to spend more time with lights and getting up earlier.
That my wife understands the position cycling takes in my life isn’t what I find most remarkable about how she loves me. It’s that she can be as protective of that need as I am. I can’t always see it, because it’s the sort of thing that can hide in a blind spot, the way the thing that’s most dangerous sometimes isn’t seen until it’s too late. That she shares my view about the positive role that cycling may take in the lives of our boys is probably more than I had a right to expect, but she does.
Of the many understanding things she’s said to me, I’ve never felt more loved for who I am than when I’ve been unable to ride due to injury or illness and, in sensing my stress, she’s said, “You need to go for a ride.”
That I’m able to have a best friend, maintain my riding life and watch as two little people develop is acrobatics only an entire troop of Chinese plate spinners could appreciate. Without her, my life would be one of shattered porcelain.