When I was a kid we got on a bike and we rode the bike. That was a bike ride.
This is not the case with my family. I might be closed-minded, I might be classical in my thinking and I’m definitely a recovering alcoholic. Meaning - I have a sick diseased mind that makes me think a bike ride is riding a bike.
My family does not go outside, get on a bike and ride. There are preparations to be made.
First, we can't just ride our bikes from our house. We had to Google search for the correct trail, the most popular - nothing but the best for us, well-liked and reviewed greenway that is not too crowded on a Saturday. Also with no hills.
The bikes need to be attached to the SUV with the heavy clunky bike rack from Sweden that cost over $500. They do not sell these bike racks at IKEA, though luckily Prime shipping at Amazon does send them for free, once you pay half a grand.
As the trailhead is forty minutes away, I made a Spotify playlist for the trip. First song is Krafwerk’s ‘Tour De France’. This is quickly vetoed by my eight-year-old son Max. My wife says, “Let him listen to what he wants. No one wants to hear this Krautrock,” my wife sneers, “this early in the morning.”
No one but me, I think. So we listen to ‘Minecraft Mega Mix’ which I would definitely argue is not ‘morning music’. When I was a kid I remember adults getting their way more.
On the way, we stopped at a bike shop, to adjust the brakes and gears, and have the tires checked.
Then we need snacks- and water. Lots of water. It’s very important to stay hydrated.
Finally, we get to the trail and it is time to ride our bikes. We go about a hundred yards, and we need to stop to adjust Max’s seat.
Then we go another couple hundred yards, and my wife needs a water break. Lord knows we have enough H2O.
This is about the point where my alcoholic brain is telling me I’m thirsty. And not for water. I’m in recovery, and through my program I’ve learned tools on how to live in this life sober, happy, joyous and free.
Instead of yelling, WHAT THE FUCK!
Another couple hundred yards, another stop. Max's butt hurts. I’m not sure we have ridden our bikes half a mile. We rode in the car almost fifty miles to be here.
“Should we buy him those shorts?” My wife asks. “We can go back to the bike shop.”
“You know, bike shorts?”
“No. He’s eight.”
“His rear end hurts.”
“He just needs to ride more, get used to it. Those shorts are mostly for, you know, serious bike riders who put in a lot of miles, real riders.”
Just then a portly couple on extremely expensive bikes, and stuffed into the latest bike apparel slowly peddle by, proving me wrong.
“On your left,” they demand.
Whenever you say, ‘When I was a kid’ you know you will never get a very progressive statement, it could even be construed as stinkin’ thinkin’. But, when I was a kid, I got a bike from Goodwill, I taught myself how to ride to keep up with the neighborhood kids, which taught me how to keep up with life. Which worked, until the booze almost destroyed me. But hey, I got lucky and made it to recovery. Coddling our children is not doing them any favors. Slight inconvenience builds character.
“Can we just ride a bit Max, and see if the pain goes away?”
“Hey dad, I love you.”
And my heart swells.
“I love you too Max.”
We get going again, without stopping. The pace is so ponderous, I often don’t peddle and have to work on my balance to keep from tipping over. I don’t want to be the asshole who rides ahead too far from his family, so I go at a snail's pace, reminding myself this is about family time. That Max loves me. We get passed by everyone. “On your left!”
We ride for a total of three miles, a mile and a half there and back. ‘There’ being the point where the family decided we could just go no further. I do feel outnumbered, often decisions are voted on 2-1 and I mostly lose.
After this strenuous bike ride going to lunch is a good idea. We can all decide on Mexican. As soon as we sit down, the waiter comes up and asks me with a wink, “Margarita, mi amigo?’ Back in my drinking days, this would have made him my best friend, and it would have been off to the races. Now the question makes me uncomfortable. But I need to remember it is not his fault. It is my responsibility to fit into this life sober.
“Agua minerale por forfavour.” I say in my garbled Spanglish.
My wife orders a margarita. And yes she’ll upgrade to the big one. And she will order another. It’s not about the bike ride, it’s about family time- I try to convince myself. An argument that goes out the window on her third drink.And that’s our Saturday.
As I drive home, Max asks, “Daddy, why does mommy always drive in the mornings, or, like, to the restaurants and you always drive home from them?”
Because your mommy is a control freak in the morning and a drunk in the evening.
I don’t say this. I smile.
“We like to share the driving Max.”
“That’s nice,” Max says.
When we get home, Max gets on a screen, defeating a major purpose of the bike ride. My wife opens a bottle of white wine and binges Netflix. I read a book.
After Max is put to bed, my wife comes in and with a slur tells me it’s time to pay up.
We play cards for sexual favors. I often lose. And my wife likes to claim her prize when she has been drinking.
A bet is a bet. But also, this is a vulva that has been sitting on a bicycle seat. Not the freshest vaginia to lick. I do my due diligence. And to be fair, my wife reciprocates. She is amazing at giving blowjobs and often tells me I’m lucky she still gives them. Most married men do not get blowjobs, I’m told. I’m not sure how she knows this,. I don’t want to know how she knows this.
The sexual position 69 has become our thing, and we have gotten good at the simultaneous orgasm, it just doesn’t work when my wife has been drinking too much, and I feel like I might suffocate.
Early the next morning, I wake up and am quiet, making sure I do not wake the rest of the house. I pray and meditate, make a cup of coffee and then jog a mile to an AA meeting. I sit and hear the message, just what I need to get through another twenty-four hours sober.
I jog home, with my muscles moving and endorphins pumping, my head full of AA slogans, I’m so fucking happy to be sober. I feel great. It’s a miracle really; fish swim and alcoholics drink. I’ve broken the cycle that would have surely been my demise.
At home, I make breakfast for everybody. My wife wakes irritable and discontented but she will soldier through all the necessities of life because she’s very high functioning. She says, “I talked to Max we want to go biking again today.”
I take a sip of coffee. I smile.
“That sounds lovely dear.”