Dating a mountain biker comes with some surprises. When I met my boyfriend I immediately knew that my life would change forever with him. I don’t mean this in a romantic I-saw-him-and-I-knew-he-was-the-one-kind a way. More in a there-will-always-be-three-of-us-in-this-relationship-kind a way. When I visited his shoebox size studio apartment for the first time, I noticed that he had a wardrobe bigger than mine. This made me suspicious, as did the fact that when he grabbed a new T-shirt he did not open the massive wardrobe to grab one, but got the shirt out of a drawer. I was intrigued and at the first chance I got took a peek into the wardrobe. That’s when I saw them for the first time. Gretchen, Bertha and Agnes were hanging in the wardrobe on big butcher hooks.The 3 ‘girls’ that I would be sharing him with. Yes, that’s right, his bikes (Gretchen aka Cube Fritzz, Bertha aka Scott Genius and Agnes aka Trek Hardtail) all had German female names. Being German myself, this freaked me out. Was he dating me as I fitted into ‘the collection’ or was it just a coincidence, as he has been claiming ever since.
Anyway, this is all water under the bridge, we have in the meantime started a family, moved houses twice, had a bike stolen two days after he got it, have bought and sold no less than 6 mountain bikes and gone on numerous holidays together. Let me tell you about the 10 things the last years have taught me about life with a mountain biker:
#1 You will look like you are moving to a new house each time you go on holiday.
Holiday destinations and road trip routes are chosen based on proximity to the nearest bike park or trail centre. When we go on holiday (when I say we I obviously mean him, myself, our son AND at least one member of his bike collection) we look like we are moving. Before our son was born everyone warned me that going on holiday would now involve tons of baby gear, let me tell you this is nothing, compared with taking the bike box , helmet, gear and GoPro equipment.
We also need to be at the airport extra early to check in the bike and call the airline at least once before the travel date to confirm the bike luggage and car seat have both been registered in the system correctly and have a spot on the flight.
#2 It impacts where you live and what car you drive.
Being German I judge cars by their ability to handle themselves well on our limitless Autobahn, while my boyfriend is all about cargo space. Finding a car that fulfils both criteria comes with a price tag, this leads to the I-could-buy[name a bike part of your choice]-for-that-instead-dilemma.
Unfortunately, we currently call The Netherlands our home. This country is as flat as a pancake with their highest peak at 322 metres (1,058 ft). For my Colorado born mountain biker this means he has been borderline depressed since the day he got off the plane. And we are forever spending weekends away in neighbouring countries with hills.
#3 You will forever be catching him looking at bike stuff the way other guys look at porn.
When he just started dating, he showed me the How to be a Mountainbiker Video. I laughed it off back then, but now I can say it is true, all of the stereotypes are true. He is constantly on his phone to check out new bikes or compare components, loves his stickers and forces himself to not look at any bike forums when the races are on, as if it was a FIFA World Cup news blackout.
#4 GoPro footage is to be taken very serious
He will force you into watching his GoPro footage of his last crazy ride and sulk like a little child if you are not excited about the great line he nailed.
#5 Owning a ‘normal’ bike is frowned upon
I own a big heavy bright red Dutch bike, with a basket and I LOVE it! This bike is one of the most talked about purchases in our relationship. According to him it is as easy to manoeuvre as a tank and if it ever gets stolen, I would not put it passed him to have arranged it in order to‘upgrade’ my bike for me.
#6 Christmas/Birthdays and any other occasion that require a gift will be no-brainers
He is like a pre-schooler when it comes to any celebration that involves gifts. His Christmas wish list is pretty much just an adult version of our sons list. This is the guy who daydreams about upgrades he can do to his bike, the day he buys it. He sometimes orders new parts for a bike that he is planning on buying as there was a great offer on Chain Reaction. I have jokingly asked him once, if there was a way for him to deposit his paychecks directly into the Chain Reaction bank account and he actually seemed to take me serious.
#7 You will get to experience the hospitality of at least one ER while on holiday
He broke his collarbone, ribs and big toe the last time I had to take him to the ER. I was 15 weeks pregnant at the time and 3 days into a 2 week road trip. He just had to do “one last run”. We were a right pair for a while, me with my morning sickness and him with all his bandages and massive bruising.
#8 You will know the best brand of bleach to clean up the blood stains on the bed sheets
My guy has plenty of bruises and scars on his legs and apparently seems to feel he must always have at least one active injury at all times. I have had to replace plenty of bedlinen, as our sheets tend to end up looking like some sort of twisted Halloween prop.
#9 You end up using a spare bedroom that you wanted to convert into a nursery as bike storage instead
Before our little one was born he was adamant that the baby would sleep in his own room from an early age, since then it seems to have occurred to him that it would mean giving up his bike storage/in-house repair shop. We sound like broken records when we for the millionth time talk about why he feels it is not enough to only own one bike and why none of his bikes can (under no circumstances ever) be stored outside. Long story short we’ve now had a crib standing next to our bed for more than a year.
#10 Your unborn child will have a first bike on order long before the due date
Our little one got his first bike (Woom balance bike) mounted on a Strider balance base when he was 9 months old for Christmas. By the time he was 10 months old he actually sort of started using it and by 14 months he was walking with his bike. Seeing our little one pointing at the bike and sitting on it like on a rocking horse, I was literally watching him fall in love with someone else right there and then in front of my eyes. We’ve since then we moved on to building ramps out of cardboard boxes to practice on after watching too many bike videos on YouTube. I hope for our little one that he will continue to like bikes, else this momma bear will have to protect her cub and console her hubs.
Why am I crazy enough to put up with it all?
I APPRECIATE the role mountain biking plays in his life and have accepted the fact that his addiction means we will have a tough time finding a life insurance company that won’t laugh us out of their office and always need to make sure that we have a good health care plan. I have also ACCEPTED that his time on the trails is not just much needed stress-relief from a busy job. It gives him the adrenaline kick he is craving, a sense of freedom and connects him to a global diverse passionate community. Above all it reminds him what it means to be a kid again so he can better bond with our son.
I have EMBRACED my role as a trailing spouse. I know I will forever be pacing whatever city or resort is close to the trail he is riding on that day, together with our little one, waiting for Daddy to be done for the day. Although I ADMIT I am now closer and closer to giving it a try myself to see what makes him so crazy about this sport. For the time being I am CONTENT to stand aside until our son is big enough to start collecting his own injuries forcing me out to act as a sanity check for these two. And I HOPE for him that one day our little ripper will outride him BIG time and leave him choking in his dust.