The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Friday, May 09, 2008


Big Ride

In the spring of 2001, a few months before our wedding, my soon-to-be husband Tim and I rode our bicycles to San Diego. The trip took nine days. We started from our house in Tiburon, rolled over the Golden Gate Bridge, and skirted San Francisco to pick up Highway One. We pedaled through Half Moon Bay and down the coast along Big Sur, where the road has no shoulder and the cliffs dropped off inches from our wheels, straight down. We passed Moss Landing, Monterey, Cambria. Santa Barbara, Malibu, L.A.

The final leg of the trip we took the ferry to Coronado, fitter and leaner than we’d been in our lives. I was so infused with endorphins that I shouted to the other waiting passengers: “We just rode our bikes from San Francisco!”

One shouted back: “What did you eat?”

“Anything we wanted!” And I held up the king-size bag of M&Ms I kept stashed in my back pocket as proof.

We took almost nothing. Two pairs of biking shorts and jerseys apiece. A change of underwear. A pair of jeans and a T-shirt for Tim; a black tank dress for me. Flip flops. Sunscreen. At night, when it got too dark to ride, we checked into whatever motel was close and washed that day’s gear in the bathroom sink. The next day, we bungee-corded the damp clothes to our panniers and let them dry in the sun.

Tim and I met on a bike ride. That one was four-hundred miles over five days. We were both single and looking for someone who didn’t mind spending six hours at a clip on a narrow leather saddle hunched over a set of handlebars, someone else that obsessed. Our wedding vows concluded with the Irish Blessing, the one that begins “May the road rise to meet you,” and ends, “May the wind always be at your back.” We held hands as the justice of the peace read the words aloud.

These days, if I’m lucky, I squeeze in thirty minutes on an exercise bike two days a week. I can’t believe I’m the same girl who rode her bike to San Diego, who gorged happily on king-size bags of M&Ms. But the fact is, training for a big ride requires enormous chunks of time, which I no longer have. I’ve got two kids and my priorities have shifted. On most days, I don’t regret my choices for a second.

Occasionally, though, I’ll see a pack of cyclists speeding along the side of the road. And somewhere in the middle of it, I’ll spot a girl—head down, riding in the draft—who reminds me of myself. I imagine myself on the bicycle, exhilarated and focused, legs mashing down on the pedals. Nothing is ahead but open road.

Jessica O’Dwyer


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Love this. Makes me think of what was - and how it's ok to miss our "old rides" even though we've got new ones we love.
Lovely essay, Jessica. You really capture the wistfulness of looking back on a rich and exhilarating time from a current place that is still rich, but quiet and complex.

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