Struggling with disappointment, I squinted at the trail. The light was getting low and I had let myself fall behind. I knew it would happen at our spot, the place after that long,
loose rock uphill that seemed to go on and on. Muleshoe Bend was our favorite mountain biking spot for many reasons, and we’d ridden that trail both in the heat of the day, and the dead of night many times. I’d finally mastered that hill, fat tires simultaneously slipping, spinning and bouncing off the big rocks, and the musical ting-ting of stones on spokes. Staying in the seat, quads burning, lungs screaming, sweat burning my eyes. Our spot at the turn, just after the solid ground at the top where through the scrubby hill country trees, the lake came into view, when there was actually water. OUR spot. The place where he would wait, watching me climb. Where I knew he knew I was a stubborn, determined, mountain biking, bad ass mama. He loved me dirty, dripping with sweat, heart pointing. Our spot, where he’d first kiss me when I rolled up beside him, then hand me the spout of his Camel-back and let me drink. He’d watch me intensely from inches away, as I gulped and gasped. He’d kiss me again and I’d savor the sweet and salty taste of him. Then, we stand, astride our bikes, side by side in quiet contemplation of the nature around us. We’d bathe in the trees and each other.
I knew it would be there. He’d be waiting at the top with the water, and while I sipped, he’d slip the ring on my hand. We’d kiss and we’d start our journey right there, at our spot.
I flew up that ass-kicking hill like I had never done, my heart singing. I arrived beside him and came face to face with a glaring couple and their tent. In OUR spot. There’s no camping out there, not at our spot! He gave me water, and a quick kiss and led on. Nothing happened. No moment. No ring. I fell behind trying not to cry. The sunlight was fading and I needed my light. I didn’t stop, I needed to catch up, but I still let myself lag not wanting him to catch the tears on my face. Deep in my own misery, I rounded a corner and skidded to a stop. He was off his bike, his back to a scrubby Cedar Tree and he was digging in his backpack. The light was low, and I was ready for him to hand me my headlamp and bike light. He was bent over in those glorious baggy bike shorts that couldn’t hide his amazingly athletic, beautiful butt. He looked up, concerned. “Are you having trouble seeing?” he asked. Oh, God, that lovely Irish accent! “Yes,” I said, still choking down my disappointment. He took a knee and dug around in his backpack. He looked up at me, and held something in his hand. “Would this help light your way?” he asked.
Oh God! That was not a bike light! Is that what I think it is? I squinted and thought, “Now? Here? This random spot on the trail where we’ve never had a moment?” Well, by God, we were having a moment now. Right here. Right now. I looked at him, helmet on, sweaty, dirty and beautiful. Exactly how I loved him best. Outside, just me and him.
“Uh, YES! Yes!!” I said as if all the rocks on the trail were suddenly in my throat. Now, I really couldn’t see. Dark. Tears. He was up and standing beside me and we fumbled with my smelly bike gloves. Dammit! My hands were shaking. We took a moment to figure out which hand, which finger and then, what a kiss! What a moment! What a man! What a love! This adventure! This life, this trail, this night, this moment. We were really going to do this, this adventure together.
Bike gloves back on, holding that rock in place. Headlamps, bike lights. Dark in earnest now. Miles to go. Night noises. Bliss. Back on the bike, heart flying, wheels maybe not even touching the ground. Brain spinning, emotions everywhere. Suddenly, sharp steep downhill. Bike disappeared, flying. Scraping noises, helmet finding rock, body crunching impact. Air whooshing out of my lungs. Silence. Self body scan, bike shoes tap, tap tapping on the trail. As I peeled myself off the ground, “Are you okay?” I hear him say as he slid down the up side of the creek. Oh my God, that accent! “Oh yes, I’m amazing!” I reply, ignoring my horror and the real physical pain. Embarrassed and bruised, but when he kissed me and gave my body the concerned once over, I knew I was more than okay. I would always be okay.
Satisfied that I was actually in once piece, he hesitantly said, “Still got the ring?”
Night noises and our laughter.
Magical music still.