Go ahead, folks, say it with me: THE FALL!
Yes, it's true--I routinely feel the need to prove gravity. (Though Arizona likes to remind me that gravity can't actually be proven. I'm just providing more evidence that argues in favor of its existence. Geek.) So you might wince when you hear (as did several friends when I mentioned the plan) that this weekend was my first time back on my mountain bike in roughly a year. But with good weather and a grandma lined up to walk Wallaby on the pedestrian trail while Arizona and I took the bikes up onto the gnarly stuff, I was raring to go!
Some couples (okay, most of 'em) probably use that first official babysitting opportunity for a nice dinner out where they can both sit down at the same time, use two hands to eat, and spend more than five minutes on the process of shoveling ye olde food into ye olde mouth. Which (at least at chez Doc Jess) is a rarity these days. But Arizona and I don't really do fancy restaurants as romance--he proposed to me on the side of a bike trail overlooking a local reservoir and I told him he was going to be a daddy at the gun range. 'Nuff said.
So it was this past Sunday that my mom headed off with the jogging stroller and the baby, while Arizona and I wheeled off on our bikes. And I refused to admit, even to myself, that I was nervous. Not of falling so much as being different on the bike. Feeling different about something that had been a central part of our time together pre-baby.
A few years ago, I took a chunk of time away from my bike to rehab a dislocated elbow (see above re: proving gravity), and it wasn't easy to get back into the swing of things after--I was slow and tentative, and that's not a recipe for success on a downhill bike. And that was before I had things in my head like "I'm a mom" and "I don't have time to be hurt right now" … The latter of which I knew from my days competing horses in the jumper ring was guaranteed to invoke the law (theory?) of gravity.
So, yeah. Mild butterflies--not just because falling hurts, but because after all the happy changes Arizona and I have been through recently, I wanted this one thing to stay more or less the same.
As we started out I wobbled a little, feeling the adjustments we had made to my bike in the early weeks of pregnancy. A few quick changes--lose the gel seat cover, lower the seat, let a little air out of the rear shock--and we were back on the go, turning onto the trail leading to the first climb.
And, suddenly, I got why "just like riding a bike" is a cliche. As we powered up the hill and then gravity (hello again!) sent us boinging down the rocky backside, my body remembered where everything was--how to shift, how to balance, when to tap the brakes and when to power through. Even better, suddenly the idea of staying back in the saddle made more sense than it ever had before--why lean forward and rush to an obstacle when I can sit back, lighten the front end, and let the tires carry me up and over?
Which is a little like my developing take on motherhood, come to think--take it slow, one thing at a time, and don't rush the fun stuff. And while there are going to be bumps and low points, there will be peaks and smooth spots, too. All of which we found on our ride together.
So where does the pride part come in, you might ask? Well, after the first ten minutes or so, I realized I was getting sassy--showboating in the corners and taking tougher lines and bigger drops than I probably should be after a year out of the saddle. And I know from experience that for me, the "woo-hoo, look at me!" is usually closely followed by: CRASH! So I backed off. I slowed down a little and took a breath. And I didn't rush the fun stuff.
Nope, despite the title (and my history) I didn't fall--except back in love with biking, and always in love with Arizona. And later, as we pedaled for home and talked about the biking being an important two-of-us thing in a suddenly three-of-us world, he said, "Absolutely. But it's also awesome to know that Wallaby's waiting for us in the parking lot."
And, oh, it is.
Am I going to fall and hurt myself one of these days? Undoubtedly. But, like always, I'll get back up, assess my injuries, and go from there. And a few days later, Arizona will get a package in the mail and present me with a pad to protect whatever part of me I banged that time, wanting to keep me safe. And that, for me, is romance.