My husband took me mountain biking 3 times in our marriage. The first was around Applegate Lake. Actually I shouldn’t say around because I didn’t actually make it around or even halfway around. I had a sweet bike. I had all the gear I needed. But I was out of shape and scared to death I was going to fall off the trail and into the lake. That ride ended abruptly with the first big hill I encountered and had to walk my bike up. I was done.
The second ride started uphill at the Ashland watershed. When I say uphill I mean riding my bike back and forth on the road so I didn’t fall off and lose all of my momentum. It sucked. And I was not a happy camper. How on earth do people do this for fun? It was torture in my opinion. We made it to a point where we could ride a trail back down and I thought for a second I would finally have it easy. Nope! The trail was so steep I kept falling off just trying to lean back to not go head first over my handlebars. Another epic fail.
My last experience riding was the worst. And best. Dom took me out to Lost Creek Lake to ride “all the way” around the lake. We’ll see about that. It starts out with 3 miles of uphill road. Ok I can do this. Third time the charm. I have to prove to Dominic that I am capable of doing the one sport he LOVES! I’m tough. I’m not a girlie girl by any means. I SHOULD be able to do this. Now comes the 11 or so miles of trail riding. Just don’t look down, or mind that tree in the middle of the trail, or the rock garden he breezes through like its asphalt. Just KEEP UP! Halfway through I’m hitting a wall. I begged him to ride back and get the truck and pick me up. No. We’re almost to the concrete and then you’ll be fine from there. Oh dear Jesus, you’ve got to be kidding me. Ok. I did it I made it to the cement!!!! It’s all easy from here. And it was for a good 3 miles. And then we started uphill again. And around every corner I wanted to quit. But he told me “this is the last one, right around this corner is downhill!” But it wasn’t. Corner after corner was a letdown, and with every turn that revealed another stretch of hill I wanted to punch him in the face. I told myself, if the next corner isn’t the end I’m sitting my butt on the side of the road and he can come get me. But it was the end. And when I saw the downhill portion and felt the pressure release on my legs and the pavement flying under me at 40MPH it was amazing! I was so dang proud I actually finally completed a ride with him.
Let’s not let the celebration last too long though. This isn’t one of those stories where I say I was so invigorated I was hooked and wanted to mountain bike all the time. I actually sold my bike! Haha. Yes. Sold my bike, and haven’t mountain biked since. It’s just not my sport.
But this was supposed to be about Dom. Sorry babe. I get carried away.
The point of this post was actually to talk about how over the past 2 years I’ve finally got to watch my husband do the one sport he was made to do. Mountain biking isn’t a sport that you can just go and watch. And my few experiences going with him were spent in such self pity that I didn’t actually take the time to care how good he was because I was too busy being pissed that I couldn’t keep up with him. Before his accident he would ride, but he never really had a group of friends that rode regularly so his rides were few and far between. After his accident, when he recovered he decided he needed to get back to doing what really made him happy. So he bought a new bike and started talking to some friends about doing the same. They put together a group that rode every week, sometimes a couple times a week.
Being so consistent in it really changed him. I could always tell when it had been a week or so since he’d been riding because his stress level was high and he would get irritable. “Go for a bike ride!” I would tell him. Please, go ride so you can be nicer. And it always helped.
And then he had the grand idea of me hiking in and taking pictures of them hitting the jumps. I can do hiking. I get to be outside, have my camera with me, take the dogs down the trails, and watch my husband in his element. All of his friends would tell me how good he was. How fast he was. How he would hit jumps they wouldn’t even think of hitting. But I’d never seen this side of him before. I’d seen pictures and iphone video of the stuff he jumped off of, but until you’re there in person, it does it absolutely NO justice. We made a trip up to Black Rock Mountain Bike park outside of Salem specifically for me to take pictures of their adventure there and my mind was blown. Watching him hit jumps, fly off of rock drops that I didn’t think were possible, and navigate these trails like it was effortless made me fall in love with him all over again. He is seriously talented. He breathes this stuff. And not once did I look at him and think, this is dangerous. I know, I know, stupid. Of course it’s dangerous. But I didn’t doubt his ability. And that put me at ease.
Does that make me naive? Maybe. But I never denied the fact that there was always that possibility that he could get seriously injured in this sport. Him and I have both just had the mindset since his neck fusion that he’ll never do the stuff he loves pain free again, but that doesn’t mean that life stops. That doesn’t mean that he gives up his active, athletic lifestyle for a desk job and knitting. It’s not us. God hasn’t called us to a life of fear. He’s given us a spirit of adventure for a reason. Did I ever think Dom would break another major bone and have surgery again? No way. But it happened.
I’ve had so many people hear about what happened and their first response is, “Weren’t you so mad? I bet he won’t be mountain biking again! I hope you sell his bike.” What good would being mad at him do? Let me just go ahead and demean my husband and make him feel like a real ass….he doesn’t want to be in this position. He doesn’t want to put me in this position of having to care for him. He’s a man to his core. One that wants to and always will provide for his family. And what kind of woman would I be to make him feel any less? Yes, his bike is for sale. But not because I never want him to ride one again. We have bills to pay and he rides a significantly expensive bike that will help pay bills until he’s back at work. And then I PRAY when we can afford it, that he buys another bike. That he does choose to ride again, because it’s who he is. And when we stop living our lives we might as well be dead.
So I encourage wives and husbands today. I encourage you to support whatever dreams, sports, or adventures they have. Make them happen. God already has your story written out, and if you’re supposed to get hurt it will happen whether you’re crossing the street or skydiving. Wives, push for the things that make your husbands hearts beat faster. Chances are, that when he’s full of life and has you beside him he’s going to appreciate you more. He’s going to brag about you to his friends and be proud. Husbands, love your wives and encourage her hearts desires. Make them possible for her and you’ll earn a loyal and respectful woman who wants to meet your needs. Don’t put your kids in a bubble, even when everything going on in the world makes you want to hide them away to protect them.
I’m so thankful that I got to spend the last year on the trails with Dominic. I’m glad that I got to witness his talent firsthand and capture his love for a sport that not everyone is capable of doing. And I look forward to when Little Dom asks me to come take pictures of him doing the same stuff when his time comes!
“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.” -Helen Keller