Ride no. 3 – Mabie Forest, Scotland – and thoughts on partnering with a cyclist

Me in the forestRide no. 3 of the year started on a Saturday afternoon at work, when my partner rang up and said ‘I’ve got the day off tomorrow, let’s go riding!’. This is a rare occurrence these days, as my partner is in full-time education and holding down two part time jobs. The busy schedule means that we’ve had just one ride together in the last four months – which was a pitch-black, after-work ride in the snow and freezing temperatures.

So this day off was perfect – it was a beautiful, clear, sunshiney Sunday and we had a leisurely morning of coffee and oats together. Then we headed up North to Mabie Forest. The last time I was at Mabie was last year around this time, and it was actually ride no. 3 of 2013 too, weird huh? This time it was a clear day and you could see the mountains of the Lakes in the distance across the Solway Firth. Really neat.

Beautiful Scotland

I had a really good ride – felt much fitter than last time I did the red trail, and the trails were just as fun, swoopy, and varied as I remembered. The new part is worked in now, so all the little jumps and berms are super fast – both Jack and myself were hooting and hollering all the way down :). On a particularly fun descent there was a MEGA-RIVER CROSSING (… to me, any small stream qualifies), and had a wee photo shoot there.

massive river crossing!!

There’s me, and the MASSIVE RIVER CROSSING! ^^ hehe.

The photo shoot ended abruptly though, as my feet got soaked through from the river and both our teeth started to chatter – so up the hills we went in a bid to get some warmth back. Soon enough we were on the last trail back to the van and we were calling dibs on who got to shower first when we got home.

What a wonderful day today – it really reminds me of how much I love my partner, and how grateful I am that we both share such a passion for getting out on our bikes. I have never dated anyone who didn’t love the outdoors and/or mountain biking – could you imagine it? How would you geek out on bike stuff together? How would you get super stoked on planning a massive ride or a big biking trip away with them? And how would you spend any free time with your partner if they didn’t bike?! I mean, we all don’t have unlimited free time in our lives, and I know I don’t ride as much as I’d like – imagine if none of the time I spent with my partner was on a bike? What a shame it would be (… and a short-lived relationship I would think).

Soggy, unhappy face

^ One of those more testing moments in cycling-with-your-partner history (note just how stoked I look at this moment)

I think the true strength of a relationship though, at least for me, can be seen in the less-than-stellar moments together out on the trails or the roads. When you’re on a  ride and you’re both hungry, knackered, soaked through with rain, and lost somewhere on the Cumbrian fells in the fading light. Or when you both sit silently, shivering, in a bus shelter on the far-flung reaches of a Hebridean island, glumly eating a sodden banana in the hopes that the calories gained will get you and your woefully heavy touring bike up the next hill.

P1050179 - Copy 

^hehe not one of those ‘testing’ moments (more of a silly goose moment…)

It’s through those moments (and some much more intense ‘real-life’ ones, ie immigration!) that I think the true character of a person shines through, and the true nature of your relationship is tested. In those moments you learn who has the colourful language (me) and who has the patience (him), or who has remembers the soap (me) and forgets the matches (him). In those moments you learn in which ways you complement each other and which you don’t, and work to bridge the gap. We’ve had plenty of practise with those moments together (of the biking variety and ‘real-life’ variety), and I’m sure we’ll have many more – but I think we’re the all the stronger for it :). 

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