Yesterday marked sixteen years that Kris and I have been married. In recent years, we’ve tried to keep things low key around these occasions. In theory, you’re supposed to celebrate together a little every day, right? While true in theory, everyday life is easy to get caught up in, and it’s all too easy to forget just how fortunate we are. Life was a bit different when we got married. And it would have been difficult to imagine how life would be now. Lots of things have changed – but as crazy as life is with two kids and lots to do, several months ago Kris suggested we observe our anniversary by riding in the Tour de Cure, a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association. The plan was to do the 44 Mile route. This seemed within reach – enough to require some training and preparation, but not so much distance to divert too much attention from running. Sounded like a great idea at the time.
Along the way, I didn’t get on my bike too much., After doing the Chilly Hilly Ride on Bainbridge Island in February, I really didn’t get on the bike much at all. It always sounded like a good plan, but I just didn’t make time for it. Something else I noticed while doing Chilly Hilly was that I was feeling more apprehension about biking than before. Surprisingly it wasn’t about riding in traffic, but rather doing downhills and riding close to other bicyclists. At one point I’d simply ride my brakes whenever doing a steep downhill. This bugged me a lot, and my motivation to bike was pretty low as a result.
Like a recalcitrant student, I crammed several rides in the week before the event. The first was in heavy rain. This was one of the more difficult rides I remember doing, although the distance wasn’t the issue. But the following day, I went about 30 miles and the weather was great. I felt really buoyed by this.
So on the morning of the big ride, I was a bit nervous. Two days before, I’d done a tough ten mile run in the morning, and had to run up a tough half-mile long hill on the way back in. I forced myself to look straight down at the ground as I climbed. This forced me to focus only on how I felt in the moment, and removed the usual visual-based anticipation of the climb ahead. I’d done this before on tough hills and it worked pretty well. I thought this would be a good approach to take with the ride as well – focusing on the ‘now’ (but not looking straight down at the ground). I had no idea what the course would be like, and knew that my mileage base was a bit lacking. The only thing I could do would be to focus on the moment, and enjoy the ride.
We started the ride a bit late. Naturally, it was more difficult when the rain came down, as it did for the first few miles and then again for most of the middle miles at the north portion of the course. There were also some stretches where traffic was an issue., When we headed north along Avondale, and then later along Woodinville Duvall Road, the volume made me feel a bit nervous. The worst part of the course was a late stretch along Union Hill Road which took us along steep, winding downhills with no shoulder. By going mile to mile, and staying in the moment, the miles mostly breezed by.
Don’t get me wrong – I set no speed records today. But it’s really about the process isn’t it? And today was about covering the miles with the person I share life with.
I will remember the feeling I had heading along the hills on Paradise Valley Road, or heading south along High Bridge Road for a long time. We’d come up some steeper sections, or negotiated some more difficult traffic, and then things would let up. The feeling you get when you’ve worked hard on something and get to coast a bit is great. And it has nothing to do with how far you may have travelled in terms of miles. It’s more about what it took to get there.
I reflected on today, thinking about why I’d enjoyed it as much as I did. Kris and I rode together for three hours, but spoke very little. I remember watching her ride, and appreciating how she’d gotten us out on the course today. She’s beautiful – inside and outside, and is a great friend and confidante. We have enjoyed some great adventures together, and today was another one of those. It felt very nice to focus on the moment – living a mile at a time, or a year at a time.