“Black is bad. Brown is negotiable”… BTCEB No 4
I’m proud of my wife. Some guys talk more passionately about the paint they’ve used to cover their garage’s floor than they do with one of the most important relationship they may ever be involved with. Funny thing that… When we first started dating she said that she didn’t think she could ever be in a serious relationship with some one who didn’t want to go camping. I felt that I couldn’t be in a serious relationship with some one who didn’t want to go mountain biking.
At the time she had a nice hybrid. It was a serviceable bike for it’s intended purposes, commuting, exercise, light trail riding but fire road trails proved themselves too challenging for the bike. I was in a good position at the time because I was working at a well-known bicycle company so I was able to score a mountain bike for her at a great deal. Her new bike was a technological leap forward for her, linear pull brakes, wide knobby tires, long travel suspension fork, and Easton UltraLite frame. Like I said a leap forward from what she was riding at the time.
When I first introduced to mountain biking I was essentially thrown off the deep end and was forced to keep up or fall out. One of the earliest trail rides I went on was an ultra rocky narrow single track trail that wove it’s way through a line of handle bar catching trees and one section that had a thirty foot drop into a dried water fall.
We got a late start, dusk was quickly turning into dark and the overgrown trees filtered out the last remains of the fading light. As we got to the top of the hill I asked my buddy for some last minute advice. He said, “Black is bad. Brown is negotiable” then blasted down the trail like a scared rabbit.
I tried to keep up. My skill levels were still pretty low. No one had high-powered headlights because they didn’t exist at the time. I probably crashed a couple of times but nothing serious. My next couple of rides repeated this pattern, extremely rocky trail, trying to keep up with advanced riders and the casual goading that sometimes stung more than the abrasions or bruises from falls.
So when it came time for me to introduce my then girlfriend into trail riding I thought back to my introduction but there was a nagging feeling in the back of my head that told me the dragging her out to the most technical trail I knew then pushing her down it in the vague hope that she would fall in love with mountain biking the way I had probably wasn’t the best of all possible ideas.
Over time I’ve introduced her to increasingly more advanced trails. She was now hooked. We’ve made several trips up to Oregon and Washington State with our bikes and they’ve been near constant companions to us on our vacations. Later she advanced to a new bike, a Surly Karate Monkey with disc brakes and a Brooks saddle.
Last weekend it was her turn to serve as a mentor. An acquaintance of ours was interested in getting involved in mountain biking. My wife, the perpetual Girl Scout, was excited by the idea of imparting her new skills to some one else. Mountain biking means different things to her than it does to me. She enjoys the ability to commune with “fresh air and sunshine”. I dig the thrill ride aspect of the sport.
At the end of the ride she was so excited about giving a novice rider a positive introduction to a sport that has meant so much to us that she could barely control her enthusiasm. Through choosing a route that wouldn’t illicit fear in a first time rider and a healthy dose of positive reinforcement there is now another convert mountain biking.
So yes, I’m proud of my wife and while she may never ride her bike over yawning rock strewn chasms she may have found her own path.