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Stress Relief

Mountain Biking in Virginia

“Sleep in, sleep in…you can do it!” I tell myself while squeezing my eyes shut and trying not to awaken too many muscles.

My girlfriends will be calling shortly to tell me what time I have to get up. There are no children, the dog has been barricaded back in the house after a 6:40 wakeup call, and it’s now 7:40. The new shower tile needs to be sealed if I want to shower tomorrow and the yoga books need reading. I wonder when today that I’ll once again attempt meditating, writing in my journal about it, and then there’s the daily yoga I‘m supposed to be doing to transform myself to higher spirituality and flexibility. My hamstring aches as I loll in the bed fighting angst.

By 8:15 a.m. the phone rings from a riding buddy. She sounds chipper and asks if she’s wakened me. I can’t deny it, even though the words of denial are already forming against the guilty pleasure. I hear her children screaming in the background. She’s probably waited two hours to make this call.

“I dreamed I was marrying Caroline,” I confess to her, and I am happy to be laughing first thing when I wake up. In fact, Caroline was in a fuchsia dress with a black lace Victorian collar when I was gratefully awoken. Not that I don’t love Caroline…but we really were getting married.

“I can be ready in thirty minutes,” I foolishly tell her. I have not yet seen my bike. When I finally do see my bike, it’s within minutes of Laura pulling up ready to go, yet frazzled and with her young child who will be dropped off with a friend. I have breakfast in my belly and everything is packed in the truck, except my bike. I grab it off the hook as sand and dried mud drop off of it in clumps. The chain looks more like a chain stay because it is solid. The rear tire is flat. I brush it off with a wire brush and throw the lube into my bag. I change the tire and am determined to patch the old tube after locating its slow leak. However, it disappears across the yard while I’m putting on the new tube, the puppy leaving several more punctures. I return the wheel back to the dropouts and as the disk brake slips into the caliper, the brake pads drop out into the gravel. I say a few choice words. Laura looks like she’s had a rough morning. It’s almost 10.

I dig the brake pads out of the gravel and see there is absolutely nothing left on them. I now begin tearing the house up looking for the brake pads I’ve been seeing laying around the house. It’s like the game Memory. I remember seeing them somewhere in the open, but have moved them several times. They are not together. I miraculously find them, and we head out. The babysitter is not only awesome to take care of all the kids for the day, but he also puts my brake pads in for me in half the time it would have taken me to cuss over it. Just as we are ready to take off, Laura’s son crashes his bike on the street. Hard. His helmet is cracked. It takes until 11 for us to calm both he and his mom down enough to determine she can still go for a ride. Doing a four-hour ride is no longer an option.

On the way to Mills River, the sky gets darker. It begins to drizzle on the highway, the darkest part of the cloud hovering over Pilot Rock, where we are headed. Neither of us can believe it. We continue on, calling little Miss Chipper who has patiently waited for us all this time. We choose a shorter ride, lamenting over the rain. It’s too hot for rain jackets, which is both good and bad.

Once we are riding in the woods, it’s as if our stresses have melted from our brains. There is nobody who needs us emergently. Our suffering is purely physical, but we don’t even notice, because that’s the easy kind.


*See more from Bettina through her blog, Spinning My Wheels!


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