It was spring 2002, and my husband and I were newly married. He was one year out of college, and I had just finished my second year. We were both feeling the effects of college athletics burnout and wanted nothing to do with running.
As a new member of the local police force, my husband had to maintain a high level of fitness. I, however, had just finished track season and needed to also maintain fitness for the following fall cross country season.
We were both in a conundrum, not knowing how we would stay in cardiovascular shape while maintaining our mental sanity.
Living in St. George at the time, we were close to all the awesomeness that is southern Utah with its majestic mesas, red rock, Dixie National Forest and Zion National Park. And one day on a whim, we decided we would try mountain biking. So, we went to a local bike shop to rent a couple of bikes for a day.
After one ride, we were hooked. We went about purchasing bikes and spent the remaining spring and summer riding as many trails as we could.
Over the course of those months, I found that mountain biking was as challenging as it was fun. There was nothing quite like pushing my bike up a strenuous hill only to be rewarded by a thrilling ride down the mountain. The accomplishment that came from staying firm on your bike after successfully navigating a sharp turn or technical downhill was exhilarating.
Then there were the crashes. Oh, the crashes. Falling off your bike, whether it was while taking a turn too sharp or going end over end on a technical downhill is a much cooler story than tripping over your feet or even a rockwhile running. Believe me, I've done both, and I get way more "cool mom" credit from the kids with my mountain biking stories.
But what I loved more about mountain biking, particularly with my husband, was that there was no need to carry on a conversation for us to enjoy the time together. We were just doing something together we both loved. That was more than enough.
I loved how even though we were not side by side due to the nature of the single track, we were both navigating the same terrain, seeing the same awesome sights and experiencing the same sounds and smells.
I loved how he'd go up ahead (because he's much faster than I) and would always wait when I got too far behind. I loved the way he'd watch me when I'd slowly pedal in, letting me know he loved me and also that he thought I was pretty cool — battle wounds and all.
It's been several years since I've shared a mountain biking experience with my husband, mainly because we have spent those years raising kids and spending our mountain bike dollars on other very important things.
We still enjoy the great outdoors together, most often by foot. There are times when he will bike while I run behind, and it is still enjoyable. Even so, I look back on those days mountain biking together with fondness and know that we will ride together again one day just like old times.