Every so often there is a moment in life where everything is so good that you close your eyes and hold your breath and hope that it will never end. Of course, it always does but we can dream nonetheless.
This is one of those moments. After a cold, snowy winter I’ve rounded up the family (3 generations of us) and headed to the desert. We set up camp on a dusty 4×4 road in the Hurricane Hills of southern Utah, smack in the middle of a trail system so fantastic it’s been listed as an “IMBA Epic.” All alone at the top of a bluff, the red cliffs of Zion greet us on one side and the imposing views of Gooseberry Mesa loom over us on the other.
There are few things that make me happier than mountain biking, but family is one of them. (Perhaps the only one). Combing the two is enough to send me soaring to cloud nine. On this weekend, I not only have my son and husband, I also have my parents and sister along. There’s something unspeakably special about sharing the trail not only with the parents that taught me to love nature, and the sister I grew up camping with, but also with the child that I’m teaching to ride.
And then there’s my husband. This guy is my partner—on the trail and in life. But especially on the trail. From the early days (we spent our honeymoon mountain biking the Alps) to the parent days (every “date” we get is spent on singletrack), to our dreams of the future—a bike is always there. On this trip, we do a big ride, just the two of us, rarely talking, rarely needing to, simply enjoying each other’s presence for a while.
Of course, it’s not all about riding hard. We take turns riding with little P, my wild, fiercely independent 3 year old. This is our last trip with him in the iBert; it’s getting too small and he’s getting too big. We’ve been using it to mountain bike with him since his first birthday. For a last ride, it’s a good one. We haul P and his bike to the top of a swoopy hill and let him ride down it on his own. Biking with a toddler is a metaphor for parenting in general. You want to keep them safe and hold them close, but you have to let them go explore the world on their own.
Flying down the trail in front of us are my parents. Both fantastically fit for their age, they mountain bike, road bike, and travel the world. Mountain biking with them has become increasingly sweet. I know these days are numbered. Eventually they will be too old to bike with us anymore; someday they won’t be my constant adventure companions any longer. I memorize each snack break and each long downhill that we spend together. I’ll keep these memories forever.
At the end of the day, when we’re all tired from our rides, we cook dinner in the Dutch oven and make drinks with homemade wine. P is covered in dirt, and draws in the earth with a rock. We are exhausted, but alert and alive. We hold each other close. Who knows what life has coming, how many of these trips we’ll get to take. But for now, I close my eyes, hold my breath, and hope that it will never end.
Words and photos by @rascal_rides