Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Mountain Bikes

I was not raised to be athletic. I was raised to dance, which I did because I didn't know any better. I used to tell people firmly that my father called traditional square dancing until Kirk pointed out that no one else knew the difference and to them it was all junior high school ordeal-by-dorkitude. But sports - never a part of my life.

Kirk naturally was the opposite. He did martial arts, he had played football, he sweated on a regular basis even when not mandated by military authority. He even, and this baffled me, ran - on purpose, when nothing was chasing him. Gradually his strange ways began to influence me. While he was in Italy I went out and learned how to ski (all by myself, with full knowledge that I would be making an utter fool of myself. It's quite possibly the bravest thing I've ever done). When he came back we both took up mountain biking, and yes by the time we got to Virginia I was running.

Actually doing stuff like that became the main focus of our lives. We ran every evening we could (which wasn't all that often with Kirk's schedule), we biked throughout the weekend, and when it got cool enough at night we would go on base and play tennis while the kids played on the playground. Good times, but it's just possible that we weren't always sane about it.

Like the time it snowed, and there were no plows so the sloppy, wet, slushy snow stayed on the roads for over a week. Kirk got so frantic with cabin fever he convinced me after five days that the roads were clear enough and we could certainly get the bikes out. It wasn't until the end of the block, by which time he had already tipped over twice, and both of us were drenched past the knees, that he admitted that just maybe the six inches of icy water and snow was not going to make riding possible.

Or the day we went out to play tennis, both of us insisting that there wasn't that much wind, and besides it always dropped by the water anyway (!?). We passed the flag, whipped straight out from the pole, and refused to say a word. Hey! No waiting for a court - see, it's all good. Three serves in, even we had to admit the ball was taking a sharp 90 degree turn, and even standing at the far edge of the court to hit against the wind wasn't going to make a game possible. We solaced ourselves with sushi, and laughed at how ridiculous it was all the way home.

That fall, the fall Kirk got out of the Air Force, was incredible. He was on terminal leave (which always sounds rather sinister - like a lethal vacation or something), and because of the job intensity he was maxed out on time, so we had weeks in which he would ostensibly look for a job. He did do some job hunting, but mostly we were able to send the kids off to school, and then drive out to the trails.

We had found that our favorite biking trails connected by fire-road to another long track; there were maybe 10 miles or so of really nice single track altogether. The trails wind through oak forests, and that fall the leaves were unbelievable. During the day hardly anyone uses those trails, and we mostly had them to ourselves. Kirk would lead (so I wouldn't hold him back) and we would just take off. I wish there were a way to express it - the noise of the tires over the dirt track dusted with leaves, the slightly musty smell, the sunshine filtering through trees and dust. And several times we would come around a bend to find a buck with a full rack frozen for a moment. Magic.

It was perfect - and we never even got to the point of concern over the job. Not far into terminal leave Kirk got his first phone call, his first interview. The company flew him out to California, and by the time he got back he had an offer. At the end of his leave in November he would head out to start work and find us a home.

It was good, we assured each other. It was time to leave. It was the right thing to do. I'm just not sure either of us believed it.


child 2 said...

so we had to go to Nelson, you know, the
" I AM A K, I AM A KN, I AM A NELSON K N I G H T KNIGHT, AND I WILL W O R K WORK TO BE MY B E S T BEST CAUSE I AM B E T T E R BETTER THAN THE R E S T REST!" elementary school while you went biking?! so not fair, and it WAS time to leave, we hated nelson elementary.

For Kirk said...

Ah trooo. Dang, I was going to post about that too! Right, maybe that's today's then!

Anonymous said...

Child 2: The school sounds awful. I feel for you.

For Kirk said...

Well, don't feel too sorry for it. I just spent an entire afternoon with the Nelson Elementary school song running through my head. Child 2, I blame you. Heads, they will roll.