There are two loves in my life. They’re about to come together. And I’m scared.
The love that came first is riding. Riding frees my soul, ratchets the demons free from my overheated brain, at once calms me and makes me feel alive. Swooping through canyons, coasts or mountains on a sunny day is so exalting and pure that it drives anything but joy out of me entirely. The separation between woman and bike disappears, and my merest thoughts become my actions. Senses become heightened to utter clarity and time expands to take in the masses of data they now experience. I am “here, now.”
The more recent love is a Dutch guy I met over breakfast at a hostel in St. Petersburg. I’m rapturously in love, head-over-heels in love, like-I’ve-found-Prince Charming in love, gushy-feelings-in-my-heart-when-I think-of-him in love, every-cliché-you-can-think-of in love. I think of little besides him and look forward to our phone dates as much as or more than I do my first coffee in the morning, and I’ve been addicted to coffee since high school. And I’m waiting impatiently until April, when he’s moving here to be with me.
Then my two loves will meet. Almost as soon as he gets here, he’s going to Pacific to learn to ride. And it scares me. I know first hand from my own crashes how quickly things can go wrong when attention lapses for even a second or when a rider pushes things just past his or her boundaries, The very idea that he could get hurt or killed almost frightens me into not encouraging him to ride. But then, I’d have to give up riding too, and I can’t.
So, although I know I can’t keep him completely safe, I will do the best I can by encouraging him to take a course and to start with a small bike and full gear. I know I could teach him how to turn the bike on and make it go, but only taking a course will teach him all the other things – the things that I now rarely think about because they’ve become such habit after my own course and a few years of riding: lane positions, where to scan, to look through corners, and counter-steering, to name only a few. I know that the patience and thoroughness of the instructors at Pacific will make sure the concepts stick in his mind so they become second nature for him as well. And hopefully that will keep him safe and alive for the rest of his riding life. I don’t want to lose one love to the other – I’d much rather they found that they love each other as well.