Back in the day before kids, my husband and I spent our weekends mountain biking. I was an average rider at best, but I loved it. Since having my first child almost 7 years ago, I can count the number of times I have ridden my bike on both hands. I wanted to do something fun to get back on the bike, so on a whim, I registered for a cyclocross race.
In cyclocross, you ride over a course of grass, pavement and dirt, stopping periodically to lift your bike over obstacles. My husband has done these in the past, so I had a sense of what it was all about. I am not someone who does organized races, but this seemed fun, and my kids could come and participate in the little kid races. Having a family-friendly activity is key these days, so we packed up our gear and hit the road.
I registered in the beginner women category. The attendant handed me a bib with the number “1972” to attach to the back of my shirt and commented, “Hey, it’s almost your birth year!” I didn’t know if that was a good or bad omen.
As I made my way to the starting area, I watched the current race in progress. Men and women in matching cycling jerseys and spandex shorts riding slick cross bikes went flying by. I was standing there in my trail shorts (baggy to the knee) and a tank top while pushing my clunky old mountain bike. My husband asked me if I was going to get a cross bike, but mountain bikes are allowed, and I couldn’t see the point of purchasing a bike for something that I might not do regularly. Plus, I am really loyal to my mountain bike. My husband bought it for me almost 15 years ago when we first moved to Washington. It was the most extravagant gift anyone had ever gotten me, and overwhelmed, I cried outside the bike store. I learned to trail ride and got to know the beauty of Washington on that bike, and I just can’t imagine parting with it.
So I embraced my frumpy novice persona and waited for instructions. It turns out that the beginner women race with the beginner men and youth racers. They lined us up in the following order: Men, boys grades 6-9, girls grades 6-9, women, boys & girls grades 3-5. So there I stood in front of a bunch of 10 year olds with my age in bold print across my back. I sent a request out to the universe: “Please let me beat at least one 10 year old!”
I also took stock of the other women. There were some gals decked out like pros, but there was a woman in her 50’s, a young fashionista on her cell phone, and an overweight gal in sweats. Ok…my people…I can do this.
But here’s the thing – as in all sports, gear does matter. There was a reason no one else was on a mountain bike; they just cannot keep up with a cross bike. The whistle blew, and everyone was gone. That big gal in the sweats? Once she bolted from the starting line, I did not see her again. Kids with cross bikes went screaming by me. My husband’s words on needing a cross bike rang in my ears.
But just as quickly, they were replaced by his voice and those of my sons in the present, screaming my name and cheering me on. All doubt dissipated, and I pushed myself to do the absolute best as I could.
In the end, I finished 25 out of 30 in the beginner women category, and I’m sure I beat at least a few 5th graders. Either way, it’s all good. I was never in it to win it.
And my sons had an absolute blast participating in the little kid race and getting to ride on the course. Seeing my seven year old haul his bike over a barrier was awesome, and being able to share the day with my whole family was a victory.
I don’t know if I will do many more of these races. Life and family schedules make it tough. But it was a good reminder that I’m not too old to get back in the saddle.
Is there something you enjoyed before having kids that you find hard to make time for since having kids?
This has been an original post to World Moms Blog by Tara B. of Washington (State) USA.
Photo credit to the author.