It’s 9:00 pm and my husband is asking me where my dirtbike helmet is. “I don’t know John.” I say with a slightly exasperated tone, “you were the one that unloaded it from the truck after our last trip.” He grumbles and stomps around and complains loudly that I need to keep better track of all my stuff then busies himself in the garage for another hour, gathering our riding gear, prepping the bikes, organizing stuff.
I sigh. As much as I love riding, it can be a pain in the ass sometimes. There is always so much work involved and so much stuff to do. It can be daunting actually, thinking about whether you packed this, or forgot that.
Whether you are hopping on your bike for a short weekend getaway, hitting the trails with your dirtbike, trailering your ride to the motorcross track for the day, or loading up your racing machines for a weekend competition, there is always a long checklist of things that need doing BEFORE you even get to experience one ounce of the fun.
Take our excursion from North Vancouver to a motorcross track on the Sunshine Coast a few years ago as a good example.
John and I get up at the crack of dawn. There is no need for an alarm clock anymore as our one year-old son Ashton ensures that there is no sleeping in, ever. A day of dirtbiking was tough to organize before but it is much harder now. Not only do we need to make sure we have both of our bikes, two sets of helmets, boots, pants, gloves, chest protectors, gloves and pads but we also need to bring toys and diapers, wipes and snacks, ear protection and sun protection, hats and t-shirts.
We start the morning scramble with John single handedly loading both the Honda CRF450 and the Yamaha YZF250 into the truck along with gear bags, gas cans, and tools. He installs the car seat, adds the stroller, tosses in Ashton’s little ride-on bike while I feed and clothe the little one, make lunches, pack snacks and toys and diapers, throw on a hat, make us some toast and tea. We have to run back into the house several times for forgotten items, sunglasses, a sweatshirt, Ashton’s soother. We’ve been up for hours and I’m exhausted already.
We drive north towards the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal and the ferry ride is beautiful as always. Ashton is happy to be freed from the car seat. He crawls around the deck of the boat and holds his breath in the wind, laughs at everything.
After the 45-minute ride we load the kid back in the seat, strap him in and begin the short drive to the track but have to stop for gas, to pee, for coffee. As we are nearing the exit Ashton falls asleep, so instead of pulling off we keep driving, past the track, past the next town, past the town after that. We drive around for almost an hour before heading back. The kid needs his nap.
It’s after noon already and we pull up to the track. It is sunny and dry and we are the only ones there. John unloads everything while I give Ashton his lunch, avocado, mushy peas, Fig Newtons. I change his diaper, put on his hat and sunscreen, throw some toys into the back of the pick up truck and close the gate. It’s like the world’s largest playpen back there. John and I gear up.
We take turns. John rides first while Ashton and I watch. He wears his little earmuffs and watches daddy’s every move. He points and kicks his legs and I’m certain he is trying to tell me that he wants to be out there riding too.
John rides for 15-20 minutes and comes in sweaty and hot, smiling. I pass him the kid and start my own bike, take off down the dusty dirty hill. I realize as I’m riding that I feel very rusty. It’s been over a year and a half since I’ve ridden and it feels kind of foreign. I’m slow and cautious, I roll over the jumps, I tuck the front in the sand, I only ride the easy part of the track and come in after 15 minutes slightly frustrated.
We trade again, pass the boy back and fourth, drink water, talk about the bikes and the track. On my second session out things start to click and I relax on the bike. I ride faster and begin to take air a little at a time. I squeeze the tank with my legs and feel fluid over the whoops, I feel the wind in my hair and a smile forming on my lips. I laugh out loud in my helmet. I come in after a good 20 minutes.
“That was awesome!” I say to John. “I was way faster, I was comfortable, I was fast, I jumped!”
“Ya babe, you were riding really good!” He replies with a smile. The stress of the morning has melted off of us and we are happy and energetic and living in the moment. We have forgotten about how much work it was to get to this point and we aren’t thinking about how much work it will be to get back. We are doing what we love. We are riding and it is amazing. We look at each other and without any words we appreciate the simple fact that we have this passion for riding that we can share, and that we can share it with our son. We look forward to the day that we no longer trade him back and forth between our arms but that he is out there riding along side us, smiling at us, speeding past.
Non riders don’t understand why we would go to all the trouble to work on the bike, pack the gear, load the truck, drive to the track, unpack, ride and then do it all again. Non riders just don’t get the appeal, the freedom that riding brings us and the way it brings us all together as a family.
We ride a few more sessions each and then begin the process of loading up once again, only this time it is with a sense of accomplishment. We are refreshed and tired at the same time but it is that good tired, the tired that says it was all worth it.
And it was.