It's been a rocky four years with my bike. If I had to describe it I would say we had a "love-hate" relationship. It wasn't always like that. I remember the first day I brought him home. I was so excited and couldn't wait to show him off to my friends and family. It was the honeymoon stage of our relationship. Everything was new and shiny and I fell head over heels. Admittedly I was a bike virgin and felt awkward and clumsy when we would go for a ride, but for the most part he taught me how to handle him. Little by little I started to learn his basics - his gears, how to care for him, how to smoothly clip in and out, how to lay him down in my van without worrying about bending him the wrong way. I immediately named him "C.D." for Carpe Diem - because together we were going to seize the day and make history!
As the months passed, my speed and skill improved, but I never really felt in control of him. We had a few ZMPHRs (zero mile per hour falls) together and he got scratched and nicked up a little due to my carelessness. Sometimes he would fight with me when we rode - once in a 70.3 race he blew his front tire twice within 5 minutes. He was unreliable and I was starting to distrust him. He had a way of making me show my weaknesses when he would act up and he made me feel so small in front of my friends. Everyone else that I rode with seemed to love their bikes and I would watch the couples slowly develop into one unit as they rode. I became jealous of the relationships that my teammates had with their bikes. I couldn't understand what was wrong between us.
There was a deciding moment in our relationship when I almost just walked away. He threw me. Hard. Right into oncoming traffic. I hit my head and wrenched my neck and left some of my skin on the road. I have never felt so degraded ~ he did it right in front of all my friends...as if to say, "Fool! You don't belong with me!". It was humiliating. But as many people in bad relationships do, I didn't leave him. He made it all seem like a misunderstanding, that I had just misread the terrain, and that it wasn't intentional. In fact, it was really my fault and not his. I believed him and stayed.
Many more months passed and I began to get the itch, and wondered what it would be like to ride another bike. A newer, lighter, more expensive model with shiny bright colors. I oogled other bikes at races and secretly I wished that I had held out for a different model than the one I bought. I was in no place to make a major life change though, so I stuck with what I knew and just maintained the relationship as it was. But it was truly becoming painful.
I was losing the joy of riding. Every time we rode I was reminded of the effort it took to maintain this relationship. Often he would bring me to tears while we rode, and my body would become wracked with the pain of frustration over our position. I just wanted out of our relationship. I had had enough and was at the point I was going to walk away and accept that we could never be what I had hoped for those first few glorious months.
Having decided that this would be our final year together, at least as far as the intensity in our relationship, I set out to make the best of what we had. We started therapy to address our painful relationship. Our therapists worked to make us fit together better by addressing the needs of both of us. We went to therapy together, and individually, and it helped us gain insight into each other's needs. As much as I wanted to push forward, I had to back off being so aggressive. Luckily C.D. was willing to work with me by making adjustments as well. We both went into therapy willing to give it one more shot, willing to adapt, and take the advice of the professionals around us that were there to help us. At least we had that in common.
As often happens when both are willing to seek help, something started to change. I noticed it for the first time when we went to camp for a long weekend. At the beginning of the trip we fought a lot. We rode together for short periods of time and it always ended with me on the ground in a pool of tears. I honestly doubted whether I could even endure the rest of the weekend. No one should suffer like this in a relationship. But on the last day, there was a spark of hope and it was magical. Tired from battling all weekend, we somehow managed to ride for the first time ever as a unit. I was the jockey and controlled my steed...and he actually responded to me. It was smooth, and controlled, and strong...and he responded to my touch. It was as if he had been waiting for me to take charge.
When we returned from our trip things were different between us. We were no longer clumsy and awkward together, fumbling to try to learn each other. I was in charge now. The dominatrix of the bike. And he seemed to like it that way. He became responsive to my slightest movement. The harder I worked him over the more he responded. We had a new respect for each other that we hadn't had before. We became fluid and smooth and efficient in the way we communicated.
I wasn't sure if this new found happiness would last, or if it was just a phase. I held my breath the next few times we rode, but was pleased when it was over and I still felt in control. I won't lie. There was still some pain from the old wounds that I couldn't forget, but overall we managed to stick it out and finish what we had started together. I felt happier about how things were going, and optimistic about our future plans together.
I have something that I didn't have before in this relationship. Confidence. Confidence that I can handle what he gives me, and that I can push him to new depths. Confidence that I know how to ride and that I am only going to get better, faster, and stronger. And confidence that even when I am reminded of the painful wounds that he has caused me in my past, that I have shown that I can push beyond that pain and move forward to a place where that pain will someday dissipate and hopefully eventually be forgotten.
I want to do something special for C.D.. I want to give him a new name. The old one never fit and has a history of hurt and distrust associated with it. The new name fits perfectly:
For those that don't remember the story from childhood, it's about an untamed and wild stallion that is discovered by an unremarkable individual. Through adventures and struggles they become dependent upon each other for survival, and in the process learn to trust and love each other as they establish a life-long bond. Ultimately they train hard to beat the odds that face them both and they race to become champions.
I think it's fitting, do you?