Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Wife: The Cervelo SLC-SL of Mothers

Mother's Day is just about wrapped up, and it hasn't passed without me being thankful. As a son, and as a husband/dad, I got more than my fair share of good luck.
I'm not going to go into some John Denver thing here, gooshing all kinds of mushy Hallmark pap. It's not that I'm not a sentimental guy; it's just that this is mainly a biking blog. I have to ride at close tolerances with people who might "swerve to miss a hole" and "accidentally" take out my front wheel if I write that kind of pabulum.
Nonetheless, I reflected on something as I spent a weekend on the DL, a week removed from the wreck I've documented in the last few posts, and a year and a day removed from the first of two crashes last year that inflicted a good deal of pain.
Here's the thing: After each wipeout, acquaintances and even family members surveyed the damage, looked at me stupidly and asked, "Why do you do this?" Yet my wife ever asked that question. How lucky am I?
She has never once suggested that I'm foolish for getting back on the bike after doing the equivalent of jumping out of a car traveling 25 mph. She has never looked at a bill from the physical therapist or whatever and yelled, "We cannot afford your stupid self-indulgence!" She hasn't even rolled her eyes in a condescending way and said with a patronizing smile, "I just don't understand why you do it, honey."
My wife has never once even implied that she wishes I'd quit racing. On the contrary, she encourages me to do it even when I feel like other responsibilities or needs ought to pre-empt that day's, or that night's, race.
She has seen me near tears as I peel off bloody bandages, or hobble around the house on purple legs, or grimace and groan through another painful half-hour physical-therapy session aimed at loosening up a shoulder so internally ravaged that I couldn't remove a T-shirt without her help.
For a lot of people, including some of my relatives, seeing me after a wreck would be outright aversion therapy. Those people may never get on a bike again after seeing what they think it did to me.
But my wife? Not only is she not cowed by my misfortune, but she is actually biking more often lately than she has in years. She'll ride to her exercise class Monday morning. She turned to me this morning as she read a newspaper feature about the Great Allegheny Passage -- a bike path from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. -- and suggested we do it with the kids in a couple years. She's come to two or three races a year for the last couple years, including one of the races I wrecked in, and is eager to bring our girls to watch some more.
Maybe that's because she has seen what my bike has really done to me. It has made me a better person. With her help.
We cyclists ask a lot of our spouses, and mine is happy (most of the time) to give the support I need. That's a lot to be grateful for.
Happy Mother's Day, Jen!

(She doesn't read this blog, so if you see her, tell her about this post. It could score me some more brownie points.)

- JN

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