When Michael and I met, I had been enjoying leisurely bicycle rides on my hybrid 18-speed bike. Michael being bike-less and our wanting to enjoy the sport as a couple, he began the arduous mission of bike research. Feeling certain that my hybrid equipment (kind of a cross between road and mountain bike) would also be the perfect solution for him, I began my subtle persuasion towards that end. I felt the panic building in me as we ventured out to bike stores and he insisted on looking at those silly skinny-tired, hard-seated, feather-light bikes. I began to worry about him laying out hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars for equipment that would no doubt transform him into a serious cyclist, leaving me in the dust. I threatened that he would never wear that way-too-revealing spandex bike clothing and it would be no less than a death wish to clip his shoes into the pedals of a piece of equipment that would travel at high speeds alongside cars, trucks and other cyclists.
Having endured my increasing anxiety over his imminent selection, Michael arrived at my doorstep with his shiny new sleek black carbon Cannondale. He was barely recognizable in his bibbed spandex getup. His wallet was lighter, his ego a bit inflated. I mounted my old-faithful hybrid, he his stealth machine and we set out for our first ride as a couple. We were filled with excitement as we anticipated many years and many miles of bike-riding together.
Okay, so I am (was) a non-athletic girl and Michael’s an ex-high school and college football player. The animal in him had lain dormant for some 26 years. He literally shook in anticipation and excitement of its unleashing. I too was supercharged, but with hopefulness and expectation of a great connecting experience. For me it was going to be about meandering down country roads while engaging in deep and meaningful conversation. Okay, here we go…”waaaaaaaaaaaaaaait for me honey!” With only a couple of miles of road meeting our rubber, I found myself struggling (panting, hurting, and tearful) to keep his pace, while he was bored to death with the speed I was able to manage. The deep and meaningful conversation revolved around my survival and probably some “see, you shoulda bought a hybrid” attacks.
I Michael could not understand all of the drama around this issue. From my perspective I had proven that I had made the right choice. A light road bike twice as efficient as the “clunker” she was riding. There was only one next decision to make. She would need to make the logical evolution into road bike/spandex high performance. Why would you want low performance when there was a better alternative?
This being early in our new relationship I was completely ignoring the emotion Paula was feeling about losing me in an activity she loved. Paula was more interested in the together time than the race time. We are living in a cycling community. I could not bear to have men and women whooshing by us when I knew we could easily compete if we would just get with the program.
So began one of the first attachment issues of our new relationship. How do we define the priorities of our fledgling connection? Do we keep up or do we slow way down and turn cycling into a talking sport? We struggled with this issue over a number of months. I seemed to have a knack for cycling. At 55 years old I was kicking the butts of some of my 25 to 30-year old friends up our local hills. I felt fit and powerful after years of feeling dis-empowered in my last marriage.
Paula saw how much fun I was having. She loved the way that it brought out the man in me and was saddened by the reality that every time we would try to ride together I would have to do a stroke-stroke-coast cadence to stay in her orbit. It didn’t take long and the painful decision was made. Paula said “I release you to ride on your own. I see the joy and completion that riding brings you.”
So began the first decision in our new relationship to ride solo. Where would this decision lead us?