My hubby is great about scheduling date nights for the two of us, even since Marshall was born. At first, it was hard for me to be away from Marshall, feeling guilty and worried whether he would take a bottle and go to sleep with a babysitter. But after doing it a few times, I began to feel more comfortable and now I CRAVE those evenings, enjoying a nice, quiet dinner together, being able to talk without interruptions, not having to be "on" and think about who's going to get Marshall when he cries, just being able to listen, laugh, and enjoy each other over a glass of wine. I highly recommend date nights, especially for new parents! We had to make a pact, however, that we could not talk about Marshall the entire time, but focus on our relatonship or other topics, just to allow us that mental and physical break away from our precious son.
Last Saturday, Jim got creative with date night. It was a surprise. He knows I love surprises and he enjoys planning fun things for us to do, so that makes it enjoyable for both of us. Throughout the week, he left me clues. I'd find signs hidden throughout the house saying things like "Friday night will have you going in circles" or "It'll be dark, but you'll still have light." On Friday, he revealed the attire: sporty.
Okay, I thought, we're going up to Mt. Bonnell or some other romantic spot to watch the sunset and have a picnic dinner. But the clue about going in circles made me think we could also be going ice skating. Who knew.
That evening, Jim comes home from work, our babysitter arrives, I give her brief instructions about Marshall, then we head off in our "sporty attire." Later, I was wishing I'd dressed to go to the gym instead of a hike (since that was my guess). Oh goodness.
We get in the car and drive a few streets over to our friends' house, the Luckes. My heart sinks. No offense to the Luckes, but I was hoping it would just be the two of us.
So I said, "Oh, are we going to hang out with the Luckes in their backyard by the firepit?"
The disappointment in my voice must've been obvious because he replied, "No sweetie. This is date night, remember?" He just smiled and pulled open their garage door. I followed his gaze toward the back of the garage, where two road bikes were mounted on the wall.
Ohhhh. A bike ride. Going in circles. Dark, but there will be light. Got it.
He looked at me to gage my excitement. My face was probably skeptical. He quickly pulled out a map to show me the route. The plan was to ride south to UT campus, eat at a fun restaurant around campus, explore UT, ride back up north to the Triangle to get frozen yogurt, then ride home. Ummm...basically, that was a pretty long ride. Maybe not for a Saturday morning workout, but for date night, yeah.
Now, I knew how much planning and thought he'd put into this, knowing that 1) Thanks to my spinning classes and triathlon days, I love cycling and 2) As a UT grad, I love going back to campus to explore all my old haunts. He'd even snuck my spin shoes in a bag, brought helmets, bought lights for the bikes, and brought a bike lock so we could secure them outside while we ate dinner. Very well-planned.
There were just a few minor problems: 1) I hadn't been on a bike since I was pregnant with Marshall (which means a year and a half of not riding!!!), 2) I was wearing hiking shorts, not cycling shorts, which meant MAJOR FRONT WEDGIE and 3) we were borrowing bikes from our TALLEST friends, which meant the seats were too high, the pedals too low and the handlebars too far out and 4) Did I mention that's a long freaking ride?
But hey - I'm "adventure girl" so I smiled and did a mental re-set of expectations: this would not be a relaxing hike up Mt. Bonnell to watch the sunset, followed by a pinic dinner and a cool glass of Chardonnay. No, this would be a challenging, sweaty workout, wearing the wrong shorts and riding the wrong sized bike. But hey, I was gonna roll with it and have a blast! If only that mental re-set had worked!
So off we go, pedaling away, sucking in the cool, crisp October evening air, down Shoal Creek. And I must say, for the first 10 minutes, it was lovely. Quiet, peaceful, such an exhilarating freedom to sail down the pavement, hearing nothing but the whir of the wheels and the pedals.
But then Shoal Creek came to an end and we reached 35th street. Let's just say, 35th isn't exactly biker friendly. There is no bike lane. Not to mention, as soon as we turned onto 35th, it was all uphill. So here we were, two obnoxious bikers, with our red blinking tail lights, slowly chugging up 35th on a Friday night, as cars swerved around us. I could just imagine them, cursing us inside their cars, you @#*(# bikers! We're already late for our dinner reservation/play/movie/fill in the blank. Oh goodness. During that 10 minute span of time, I had never pedaled so hard and fast. I just wanted to get off the freaking street. And I kept praying, "Lord, have mercy on us. Please don't let us get hit by a car. We have a baby!"
When we finally turned on Guadalupe, we decided to hop up on the sidewalk (disobeying bike rules), because it felt much safer. As we slowly rode down the sidewalk, past a multitude of students who were glaring angrily at us, probably because we were hogging the sidewalk, we reached an alleyway. Jim crossed it and I was about to do the same, when a car came out of the alley and roared past me. I came to a halting stop and had to quickly clip out of my pedals. I started wobbling, so to counterbalance myself, I had no choice but to actually put my hand on the car (which had come to a stop, waiting to pull out onto Guadalupe) and lean against it. The lady threw her hands up in the air, like, "what the hell?" and roared off. Luckily, just as the car moved, I was able to readjust myself and clip into my pedals. Jim was further down the sidewalk and didn't even see it, but another biker saw the whole thing. He just happened to be one of those shaven, cut, Lance Armstrong-looking types who totally knew what he was doing. He gave me this condescending look, like "and...why are you on a bike?" In prideful defense, I quickly cycled past him and mumbled, "I'm never borrowing my friend's bike again. It's way too tall for me." Oh, I'm sure that made me look a lot better.
We chose Madam Mam's for dinner. We've been there a thousand times. There's nothing special about it. But it was right in front of us, we were tired, hungry and cranky. We scarfed down our dinner and barely spoke to one another, not so much out of frustration at this point, just complete fatigue. That's when the soreness set in. After 20 minutes of rest and rejuvenation by food, we decided to skip the UT campus tour and head to the Triangle.
I thought my husband was brilliant when he said, "I think we should go a different way going back." Hallelujah!
We went down Speedway, which was a nice jaunt through campus and frat parties, and much less trafficked. It would've actually been an enjoyable ride and if it wasn't for the burning sensation that had begun to emanate from my crotch. I knew this was most likely due to a combination of the hiking shorts and a bike seat that was too tall. I don't even know if a burning sensation is the right word. It was more like a constant ramming into my pubic bone. Every time my foot went down to the bottom of the pedal stroke, my crotch rammed into the pointed part of the seat. And at this point, it was sheer pain. So from Speedway on, I had to stand up in my pedals. No more sitting in the saddle. Nope. All the way home, I stood in my pedals. Luckily, we took a less hilly route going back. But what it meant was that I had to: pedal, pedal, pedal, coast. Then once again, pedal, pedal, pedal, coast...all while standing. It was like taking an advanced spin class. I was pouring sweat and starting to feel angry and resentful as I watched my hubby way ahead of me, just relaxed, comfortably seated on his bike, pedaling in the lowest gear and enjoying the lovely evening. Errrgh.
We still made it to the Triangle for yogurt. I don't remember much. That's when the complaining began. All I could think about was my burning crotch. Jim mentioned that his shoulders were hurting from his bike being too tall for him. But I kept thinking, you have no idea what kind of pain I'm talking about. And let me just say, I'm considering natural child birth for my second baby, just because I loved the labor process so much. I can honestly say this was a pain that was comparable to labor (possibly worse, just because I wasn't mentally prepared for it!).
After yogurt, we were headed back on the home stretch of Shoal Creek. At this point, I'm fighting back tears and cursing date night under my breath. I kept thinking, if only we had done a romantic hike up to Mt. Bonnell. What was HE thinking? That was in my worst moment, of course. He even tried to ride up next to me and encourage me, saying, "Honey, we're almost home. I'm so sorry, I know you're hurting." Silence. I didn't want his sympathy. I didn't want to talk to him. I wanted to punish him for planning such a painful adventure.
Well, we finally made it home. I erupted into tears (after the babysitter left, of course) and we had a bit of a tiff as he didn't feel appreciated and I was pissed at him for feeling so much pain. But somehow, as he always does, by the end of the night, he was able to get me to laugh about it. He even knew how to tease me, saying, "Well, I'm sorry, I just thought you were tougher and more adventurous than that." He knew that would get me, since I like to claim I'm those very things!
He still jokes that he can't wait to take me on another bike ride. We are able to laugh it off as a funny memory. And my burning crotch was better after a couple of days. It was definitely a date night to remember!