You can't really go on what you think 'marriage' is going to mean, starting out in the wedded state as a sweet young thing. It never turns out to be just the big things like 'sickness/health' 'richer/poorer' and so on. Oh, those things are mentioned in the traditional vows for good reason: that stuff happens! But really, that stuff happens whether we get married or not. It's called Life 101. It's just sometimes a bit dicier with a life partner.
But there's other stuff never mentioned in any books I've read about marriage. I suppose it's different for everyone. I for one never expected to need a degree in safety pinning. Who knew my sweetheart would decide to take up bike racing? And keep racing, and keep racing.
He's been through all the versions of the sport as it has evolved in our lifetimes. Road racing, then mountain bike racing, and his current and longstanding love, cyclocross (CX). A slightly wacky, spectator-friendly, late fall/early wintertime sport combining riding, running & leaping over things as an excuse for boys (and girls) to go out and play in the rain, snow, hail, and mud. Hugely popular in Europe since early in the 20th Century, popular and growing in the US in the last 15-20 years, particularly on East and West Coasts.
But back to being a wife. Being a CX wife calls on all my years of experience pinning on numbers. Yes, that's right. All those years of piano lessons, advanced university studies in teaching, on top of my gardening skills, cooking, and brilliant conversational abilities come down, at this time of year, to my ability to pin paper numbers onto a skin-tight lycra racing suit quickly, accurately and without sticking the wearer. I did stick someone, but good, once. It was not my sweetheart, but some hapless guy at a race long ago, desperately looking for someone in the crowd to pin on his numbers before a road race. When I finished, he straighted up with a really strange, wan look on his face. "Did I get it on right?" "Yes, but I think you pinned it to my SKIN........" Oops.
Here's what it looks like, when done correctly, during this morning preparation for CX Nationals, held in Bend this weekend:
Each racer's packet includes 4 numbers, 2 small ones for the shoulders, 2 larger ones for the hips. These go on either side, for the cameras & officials to be able to -- if the CX gods smile -- read the riders' numbers as they cross the finish line covered in mud.
Then out comes the junk drawer's box of safety pins and other objects. The race packet provides 4 pins for 4 numbers. Go figure.
Next, standing by the nice warm fire, the racer-to-be assumes the position.
Pins in hand
the Wife begins her onerous task. The final result
checked in the bathroom mirror
Next comes the embrocation -- heat-infusing liniment to protect bare legs from the cold. Sort of. Very pungent!
Super secret shirt
Tricky arm movements needed to get skin-tight suit over all these layers
Raincoat for warmup
Happy racer, headed for today's seeding Time Trial
Early morning rainbow: a good omen?
Air in tires
Bikes on the car
Away he goes
Perfect race conditions?
He races at 10:01 this morning PST. Wish him luck? The big race is tomorrow at 8:30 am. Stay tuned.
Follow the action on Don's own blog at right: Don's Sunnyside Blog