I Am So Lucky That I Get To Ride My Bike: Lessons from the Dirt

I went out for a ride the other day with a bunch of girls. It was one of those days where you inhale the dirt and the smell of the pine and you think, “I am so lucky to be out here on my bike.” I have those days all of the time because I have certain reminders in my life to remind me of how lucky I am; a mother who had a stroke at age 49 and later died at age 58 from ovarian cancer and a father who is dying of emphysema. Not that he would have ever ridden a bike but he can’t for sure now. I guess my point is that I don’t have to look far to see the privilege I carry to ride my bike, to have a bike and to have some great trails and some great girlfriends to share my passion. And a super supportive husband I might add.

Mountain biking for me has always been about freedom. It’s like I’m a kid again except I’m carefree without a mortgage and a car payment and a grocery bill larger than I’d like to admit. I’ve done a lot of healing on my bike and I’ve cried on my bike. I used the bike as a therapy tool when my mom died. I’ve used it as a means to get back into shape after each of my three babies. I use it when I can’t quite seem to shake something out of my head. And I’ve used it for out and out fun. The other day while on the trail I heard my friends say, “Oh my god, this makes me so happy.” Yep. That about sums it up. I’ve seen some of my women friends transformed by learning to love mountain biking. And when I say “transformed” I mean it. The grace and the humility and the strength that you use and experience in mountain biking carry into each and every part of your life. You are reminded to not take anything too seriously and you are reminded time and time again that you are a) lucky to be alive and b) more amazing than you know.

Now you might be thinking, “Really? You get all of that from riding two wheels on dirt?” You betcha your sweet tire pump I do. And I reckon I’m not alone. I imagine there are a whole bunch of girls out there just like me. Not the fastest, not the best but totally passionate about mountain biking. Lately I’ve had the pure pleasure of riding with friends who are just now tasting the sweet nectar of mountain biking. Just getting to feel what I’m talking about. It’s like watching a toddler take their first steps; it’s as exciting as it is frightening. The next time you’re feeling down or you feel like it’s the same old ride on the same old trail on your same old bike, take a friend with you. Or just remind yourself about how lucky you are.

In the past week I’ve been reading updates about a young woman who crashed during a ride, I’ve been taken aback at how affected I am by her situation. I mean don’t we all go out for a ride totally expecting to follow it up with a beer, a latte or just some time on the couch. The mother in me catches my breath and chokes with tears every time I read the update from her hospital room. Every ounce of my good thoughts this week goes to her and to her family and to her amazing supportive friends.

I just know some day she’ll get to use her bike to work all that out and some day it might be her that says, “Oh my god, this makes me so happy.”

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