Over the past six years I've grown accustomed to sharing my man with her. I take small comfort in knowing that there is only one of me, while at any given time he is courting two or three other "women". We have the pretty road bike, a titanium Lightspeed with golden tires which highlight her beauty at high speed. Then there is the dark green Niner One 9, a single speed Mountain Bike. Not to be out done by the Raw color Niner Air 9 (pictured), a geared Mountain Bike. Every time I turn around, it seems Tony is upgrading models, or switching out her parts, investing in the latest and greatest. He is fickle, and has easily owned a dozen of these little beauties. I can hardly keep up with their names, let alone the saddles, pedals, and components he buys for her. But gratefully, he hasn't yet turned me in on a new model.
His wardrobe advertises his love for her. Our mailbox is flooded with magazines all about her. We take her on vacation with us. Heck, we plan vacations around her. What free time he has is spent either with her, talking about her, or dreaming about and planning his new acquisition. I wonder if the other girls hanging in our garage feel a wee bit envious when he chooses the other girl to ride. I wonder if he worries about giving each of them equal saddle time. At least he spends equal time in keeping each of them groomed and pretty. I've witnessed it myself...using a toothbrush to clean the hard to get spots, gently lubing the chain, carefully polishing the frame with Pledge until it sparkles; a cleaner set of bikes has yet to be found.
Up until this year, Tony was pretty careful about the time he spent with the dirty mistress. I usually only had to share him on weekends and for after work rides. But this year he discovered the beauty and peace of mountain biking at night. The first time he took her out for a midnight spin, he came home gushing about the cool mountain air against his face, the brilliant stars lighting up the canyon sky, and the peaceful quiet, with only the sound of his own heartbeat as background music. The moon was full that night, and he described his adventure with such passion that it almost sounded romantic. I admit to feeling a bit envious. There are very few things that would keep Tony out until 2 in the morning, and while I'm sure he enjoys the camaraderie of his buddies and the post ride chill at Village Inn, it is her company that he craves.
And so it goes. Once or twice a week, Tony will tuck our children in, kiss me goodbye and quietly head out into the night air to enjoy a few hours on his bike. While I miss the warmth he brings to my bed and the steady rhythm of his breathing as he sleeps, I really can't blame him for taking this time with his other girl. She brings a passion to his life that I cannot. She eases his stress, she clears his mind, and his anxiety is washed away with each stroke of her pedals.
He returns to me refreshed and anew. He is home and he is present. Ready to be fully engaged in our lives. She helps him to be a more attentive husband, a more patient father. I see how happy she makes him during a thrilling ride with the boys, but I also recognize that she takes the brunt of his frustration after a grueling day at the office. Sure there have been many days when I have rolled my eyes or felt despair at his insatiable need to ride. But we seem to have reached some kind of balance. Maybe it is that I have finally come to realize that she is not the enemy, but rather we are playing on the same team. She helps me by helping Tony. He is simply a healthier, happier, more complete person for having her in his life. And I am grateful.