“I bought you something,” said my husband, as he went through the mail after work. These are words a wife enjoys hearing. Not because of the item, mind you, but because it’s nice to know they’ve been thinking of us. He tears open a package and hands me something in a nice shade of blue. “They’re bike shorts,” he announced, proudly, “They say Bicycle.net on the sides.”
Bike shorts. I smile as nicely as possible. My husband has bought me bike shorts. Tiny, tight little shorts and a jersey to match. Lycra, as a matter of fact. Just what every woman wants. I am envisioning my pasty white legs and childbearing hips shoved into a pair of lycra shorts. Dear God, what was he thinking?
But of course, I know what he was thinking. My husband wants me to take up cycling. For decades, cycling has been my husband’s obsession. He cycled before I met him, took a break, and rededicated himself anew when I was pregnant with our first child. Ever since then, it’s been my husband’s “thing.” My job was to let him go out for a few hours a week. I’ve barely ridden a bike since I was a kid. And now he’s buying me a cycling kit and talking about what kind of road bike I should get.
In a way, it’s nice that my husband wants to share something with me that’s so important to him. His face lights up when he talks about anything that has to do with cycling. The rational part of me says that I should do this. Heck, we even have a tandem! My children can be hooked on the back in a trailer. It’ll be fun for the whole family! But another part of me thinks this is just silly. I’m supposed to wear this little outfit and look like I know what I’m doing when the truth is I don’t even know how to shift a road bike. In fact, until recently I didn’t even know what a road bike was, or how it was any different from any of the other bikes my husband has hanging in our garage. And I’m not sure it will benefit my marriage for my husband to be yelling over his shoulder at me something about cadence while I’m trying to avoid oncoming traffic. I get kind of testy when I’m trying not to be hit by a car.
And then there’s my big hesitation. Sometimes I want to have something that’s just for me. Not an activity that’s my husband’s passion where I’m just an extension of his interests. Sometimes I dream of taking up rock climbing or a martial art or yoga or anything that no one else in my family is doing. Right now the only thing I get to do by myself is take a shower, and even that I sometimes have to do with a little nose pressed up against the shower door asking when I’m going to come out.
So what’s a woman to do? Probably I will give this cycling thing a try. It’s hard to turn down an activity that the whole family can participate in. Who knows, maybe I’ll really like it. Maybe I’ll understand better why I don’t get to watch the Food Channel for three weeks every July because my husband is glued to the Tour de France. Maybe I’ll be so good at it that I’ll join a cycling team, be their star rider, and end up on the podium. Man, I’d better get me some sunless tanner…