Flipping through stacks of memories. Finding the perfect picture to represent that life-changing moment for a senior scrapbook. They say a picture speaks a thousand words. I think maybe more. It reminds us where we have been – where we are – where we are going – through good and bad.
A map. Coming full circle. We see how all of our travels have gotten us here. Is it today? Already?! Hannah, on a bike with training wheels, helmet at a jaunty angle, years ago in front of the Arlington house. Circa June 2001. WOW! 5 years old.
No wonder she didn’t ride a bike on that road until 6 years later. We bribed her with the promise of a “good bike”. And, she trusted. Enough to learn. And now look at her!!
Without training wheels.
Whistler. Turning 11. Finding balance. Riding along Fitzsimmons Creek for the very first time. I let go and she rode and rode. Without me holding on. She was free. FLYING! That same week she met Ryan Leech. An inspirational man, she has described him as one of the most self-actualized people she has ever met. Sincere, real, athletic, spiritual.
Flash forward 4 years. Freshman year of high school. The promise of a mountain bike scholarship if she joined our high school bike team her freshmen year. And now, graduating, a beautiful, brainy, biking, woman of dirt. One of the most self-actualized people I know.
Biking. A love/hate relationship for her. “How come I am the slowest when I have been riding longer?” Used to getting left behind by those faster than her. Frustrated at the light and dark, narrow, steep, and rooty trails. Challenging for her and easy for others. Never using her vision as an excuse, pushing herself harder than many. To conquer the fear of the hidden…..at every pedal stroke. We don’t get it!
“Ride and you won’t be so stressed out about school!” I shout. “I will be even more stressed out” is the frustrated response. And then, finally I DO get it. That “ah ha” moment.
The individual reasons we ride are many. For some it is the race, the heart rate, the being better than everyone else. While to others, it is the beauty, the camaraderie, the personal accomplishments, the way to de-stress. The race or the ride? While it may relieve the day’s stress for some, it adds to others because sometimes “it is SO hard!”
Yet, she keeps doing it.
Smiling sometimes. Terrified at others. “You don’t have to race today,” I whisper as the torrential rain pours and the mud streams down her face at Washougal. “YES! I DO HAVE TO RACE TODAY!” comes the exasperated retort through tears and dirt. (Sometimes wouldn’t it just be easier to lay on the couch eating bon bons?)
I don’t know if I can ever understand completely. I like to think I can. Putting myself in her shoes (mine actually since she is using hand-me-down 510’s). I try to liken it to my riding the Shore. The hardest rides I have ever done. Yet I try to go back once or twice a year. Walking more than riding most times. Shaking in exhaustion mentally and physically when we are back at the shuttle rig celebrating with stories and beverages.
Or the fear at the start of Whistler’s Top of the World trail. “I had this dream,” says Gary, “about you guys and an ice field. And I go riding past you…” and the exhilaration of finishing it. NOT abandoned on the glacier.Smiling, enjoying breathtaking vistas, and awesome riding companions.
I said she could even get a scholarship for riding. Huckwagons is offering one. Not for employee’s families, but it is being offered nonetheless. AND she will be getting her own financial assistance from us anyways – to attend Quest University in Squamish at the base of Half Nelson. Already on a website for incoming freshmen, already hooking up with kids who want to ride bikes and be chill. Low stress.
It’s just a ride, isn’t it? Life, that is. We check it out. Not from the sidelines, but huck into it. Not always able to see the curve in the path, the chain that might bar the way, Bruce’s leg, the hedge, the unexpected drops, the heartbreaking climbs, but we do it and come out stronger than ever. Sometimes with scratches, others with bruises, and often with smiles and stories of adventures.
The race or the ride?
Is it the finish line that keeps you going or all of the berms and jumps and drops and climbs along the way? And, along the way to where? As Robert Frost said in his poem The Road Not Taken, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”. What hidden treasure lies down that less explored path? That trail less traveled? Whichever you choose, it is all a part of the journey.
…What is written:
Be weak to ride strong.
Ride up to go down.
The smooth path looks rugged,
As the most pleasurable rides are wicked.
The ultimate ride cannot be discovered,
And still, it winds its way down every trail.
-Mark Tracey, Mountain Biking in the Tao
The race or the ride? It is personal and often inexplicable. As our high school senior steps out of the door into adulthood, all I can say that I am so very proud of her many accomplishments, but most of all I feel at peace as she continues this journey of self-discovery on her bike and in her life because I know she has the mad skills to huck it!
Congrats to Hannah and the Class of 2014!
See you on the trails