My wife amazes me. She surprises me with her resiliency, creativity, and chew iron spit nails toughness while managing to be the most graceful and beautiful person I've ever met. I've often joked that we were bound to be married after I bested her in unarmed combat.
She's a tough woman... I knew this going into our relationship back in high school. She had the well earned reputation of beating up the boys who teased her because of her bad temper and red hair. One of her favorite stories involved her drilling a guy in the solar plexus before an assembly leaving him wheezing quietly in a corner for the next hour. My favorite memory involved her being on the receiving end of a cheap clothesline tackle in a boys v. girls football game resulting in her getting up with a split lip, spitting out a mouthful of blood, and saying "nice hit" while walking back to the huddle. Of course, she laid the the guy out on the next play.
This year is her first year racing cross, a sport known for its ability to chew up the strongest of road riders and turn them into mid pack participants. It takes strength, skill, the willingness to eat it and bike handling skills to avoid doing so in order to be successful and competitive.
At the tail end of last season we purchased her CX bike, a sleek black Origin8 FoxTrot. For 8 months it sat in the garage waiting patiently for the air to get crisp and the daylight hours to get shorter. For the mud and rain and grime and cowbells. August it finally got its call up. Krugers and the Alpenrose CX clinics were the time for the two of them to bond with another hidden partner of the cross season... the ground.
Nothing can really prep you for that first inevitable crash, or the myriad of scrapes, cuts, and colors that your body ends up displaying in the days after training or racing. It's part of the package to go along with the cowbells, beer, and wool socks. Try as you might, you inevitably lose some of that new to the sport eagerness and confidence after those nasty tumbles.
I know she's hurting and questioning her abilities, frustrated that it isn't coming naturally. I remind her that there isn't anything natural about jumping off a bike, hopping over barriers and jumping back on. I remind her we all crash. I remind her we all hurt. It's the competitor in her, and I'd rather her have those doubts and work to conquer them than be someone who has no desire to excel.
My wife, as have almost all cross riders, has wrecked countless times in the past few weeks. Sunday she took a tumble into a briar patch that had us picking stickers out of her kit for five minutes and admiring the goose egg that was forming on her hip. Her comment? "That's going to be a sweet bruise..."
How can you not love that?