It started off nice enough. Adrian had put our bikes on the truck, we had packed a light lunch, and we headed to the park for what was supposed to be a leisurely, somewhat romantic bike ride …little did I know my husband’s alter-ego was an X-treme BMX rider.
It was an absolute GORGEOUS day…perfect for a couple’s bike ride (if you’re doing JUST THAT) I am not the world’s most poised athlete; in fact, I’m more toward the klutzy side even when I’m just walking in an every-day scenario. So a laid-back ride was just my style. It seemed a little annoying to Adrian at first, though he tried to suppress it. He would ride far ahead along the path, look back and see me huffing and puffing to keep up, and turn his bike around only to ride circles around me in a vulture-like fashion before moving on to start the pattern again.
To appease me, he would stop every so often and superficially point out a bird here or a flower there but then the competitive nature would surface again and off he would go. As time went by, I started noticing we were no longer on a flat surface. I called out to Adrian, but he would only look back, flash his charming smile (maybe add a wink or two) and wave for me to come on and catch up. Trying to be a good wife and not let him know I was exhausted and having trouble keeping up, I dutifully kept on. The more we rode, though, the rockier and bumpier the “path” seemed to become.
By and away, we had moved from the open path to some sort of trail with trees everywhere. Adrian was now standing up as he rode and starting to do tricks I didn’t know he even knew how to do. He was jumping over logs (yes, at that point there were actual LOGS in the way) and twisting and contorting his bike to hop and twist every so often. At this point, we came to a clearing in the woods. (Yes…the WOODS) My heart was a-flutter thinking we had finally come to a place where I could rest. I looked toward the horizon, only to see a crater in the earth about 50 yards deep and 100 yards wide. Adrian looks at me and says, “I think we can make it.” (When had we gone from a leisurely bike ride into a survival movie where thinking ‘we could make it’ was an option??) I looked at him, lost all sense of trying to impress him at this point, promptly told him he was insane, and that I was headed back. He was obviously disappointed, but knew he had to lead the way for me to escape the devil’s drop and black forest he had led me into.
As we were headed back I took note (while swearing at my husband under my breath) that we were taking a different route from which we had come (of course we were). We came to a downhill slope and my loving husband decided he should go down the treacherous terrain first to ensure it was safe; I know it was to show off, because he headed down as though he were an Olympic skier on soft, white powder, doing flips, tricks and spins before coming to an epic landing and the crowd’s roar of approval about halfway down the mountain. He would’ve gone the entire way, but he realized that I was still at the top, holding him back from receiving the gold and maybe in need of some assistance. Awesome. I knew there was no way to repeat his performance so I tentatively started down the hill. There were trees on either side of me and big, knotty branches sticking out of the ground. It was a steep slope so Adrian hollered words of wisdom for me to brake easily on and off as I came down.
Sure enough, (come on, it’s not like you didn’t see this coming) my pedal hits one of the uprooted (possibly possessed by evil spirits?) branches. My hands slip off the handlebar brakes, my legs come up off of both pedals in a spread-eagle and down I go, rear-over-elbow, calling out my husband’s name in the following fashion:
I proceeded to fly right by him at his halfway point because gravity had taken over at this point and apparent jealousy of his mad bike skills had me wanting to reach the bottom before him. Well, Folks, I got there. I landed as gracefully as any human pretzel could – I and my bike becoming one. From the top of the slope I heard from an unfamiliar voice, “Rider down!!” We had apparently come to a PROFESSIONAL bike trail - you know, the kind that PROFESSIONALS ride on? They had witnessed the (murder-attempt by my husband?) fall and flown down the hill on their (white horses) bikes to my (mangled) side. As I exhaled what I believed was my last breath, I opened my eyes and saw the back tire, next to my face, still spinning lazily an inch from my (broken) face. Adrian had somehow managed to give up his BMX dream long enough to come to my rescue with his People, the PROFESSIONAL bike riders. They helped me to my feet, noticing my right leg had ballooned up inside my wind pants and was stretching the seam to the limit and that my sternum bone was protruding from my body through my t-shirt. As they helped me up, my husband picked up the bike, held the front tire between his legs in an effort to twist the handlebars back into place.
I thanked my heroes and told them I was fine and would make it back to the truck, and in all my calm resentment, I did. I had managed to land five feet from the original flat path we started on, clumsily got on my bike, and rode toward the truck, tires squeaking and with as much dignity as I could muster, and as much effort as my swollen leg would allow. We rode back in silence, my doting husband by my side, of course. He opened his mouth in an attempt to speak once or twice, but the loving look of contempt I glared at him with made him think better of it. He apologized for weeks to come, and of course in the long run, I forgave him.
Looking back now, I smile about that day, even as I type. I realize that life is like that bike ride…bumpy trails and lots of falls…and at the end of it, brokenness, bruises and scars to show for it…and one can only hope forgiveness and fond reflection is the outcome.