Dan Trent weighs up the risks and rewards of escaping the kids and going for a bike ride with your other half.
Opportunities for Mrs T and I to ride together are few and far between these days. Which is a pity, because it’s a real treat spending a few hours with the true love of your life. If this means quality time with the wife too then bonus, he said, ducking for cover.
Anyway. One such chance arose recently on the occasion of my birthday and, throwing caution and the childcare budget to the wind, we booked the kids into nursery, swapped baby seats for bikes and set out in the car. Back in the day this was what we did every weekend. Now it’s a real novelty, the fact it was a weekday only adding to the excitement as we drove across snow-dusted but sun-dappled moors. Yes, even the weather was on our side! Years ago I made a compilation of tunes from New World Disorder, The Collective and other classic bike films to soundtrack riding roadtrips and, with Swollen Members throbbing, (check those tracklistings…) it was like the good old days. What could possibly go wrong!
At the trailhead, usually I tear off like some overexcited terrier. But when riding with Mrs T I’ve learned it’s actually quite nice to let her go first and get a sense of a shared experience. Besides, she typically takes much better lines than me and is far more sensible when approaching unknown obstacles. So when we reached the first descent I did the gentlemanly thing and let her go first. Only it wasn’t the gentlemanly thing. Because it meant she was the one to find out exactly how slippery the wooden bridge over the big, evil-looking bog was.
You know when you have a crash and everything goes in slow motion? That’s nothing compared with watching the same happen to someone you actually care about. The moment her tyres touched the wooden slats, the bike was whipped out from under her. I winced. That’s going to hurt when she hits the bridge… oh… she hasn’t, she’s… oh crap! With hindsight, falling off a bridge head-first into two feet of icy water and mud probably meant a softer landing. But the shock value of total immersion didn’t make it seem the easy option at the time and, having hauled her out by her Camelbak straps, we both stood there in stunned silence.
When you’re out with the lads and someone crashes, the first reaction is always to fall about laughing. Doesn’t matter if they’ve impaled themselves on a stick, got a bone sticking out of their flesh, or are lying there unconscious. Point, laugh, bag a picture for the ‘Old Blokes’ sidebar. Then ask if they’re OK.
I’ll tell you now, it doesn’t give you the same feeling when the fairer sex hits the deck. Mrs T doesn’t do crashing. But on further examination of the frosty woodwork she never stood a chance. And I just got this overriding sense it should have been me taking the hit. Well, it usually is. But it definitely should have been this time.
So that was that. We trudged back to the car, changed into some dry clothes and went to the pub. Not an unpleasant way to see in a birthday, all told. But not quite what I’d hoped for.
I just hope it’s not a whole year before we get another chance.