Jasper, Alberta, Canada
On a clear rocky mountain morning through a wilderness forbidding and spectacular, my new bride and I mountain bike together for the first time. It is a journey begun with conflicting goals. Calene is new to off-road cycling and frightened of crashing. A competitive woman under any other circumstance. She hopes to pedal conservatively and enjoy the scenery. My plan is a manly display of biking skills, racing ahead as fast and recklessly as possible and then - and this is the part that shows my plan has no basis in reality whatsoever - pullling over to practice the art of seduction.
The ensuing argument is as epic as the Canadian forests in which it takes place. From that moment on, it is understood that Calene and I must never, under any circumstances, mountain bike together again.
15 YEARS LATER
Rancho Santa Margarita, California
"How do I shift gears?" Calene asks, pedaling the borrowed mountain bike around our cul-de-sac. It is the day before we will race the Muddy Buddy. A day that officially marks the setting aside of the no-mountain-biking-together policy.
For as long as I can remember, I have divided the world into two groups of people: those who exercise in the gym, and those who train in the great outdoors, as the good Lord intended.
Calene has long preferred the music, the socialization, the order of the gym. I like to be alone, among the elements, sorting my thoughts as the miles tick past.
But things have changed over the years. I've begun taking my wife's spin classes and she's developed an interest in running trails. Mountain biking together didn't sound like such a stretch anymore.