August 19, 2020
I remember the moment I realized my life was about to change in ways I knew I didn’t understand.
I was seven months pregnant with my first child, skiing into the southern San Juan backcountry for a weekend hut trip. I had a constant urge to pee, my feet throbbed, and a persistent back-of-my-mind voice wouldn’t let up. I thought to myself, What am I doing and why am I doing it?
Maybe it was the need to prove―to others and myself―that just because I was pregnant and just because I was about to have a baby, I was not going to slow down. But, even as I would repeatedly attempt to convince others of my goals―i.e., to stay active, no matter the challenges of motherhood―I was told horror stories of once-active women just “giving up.” As the stories went, the kid(s) demanded too much time, too much energy, and too much selflessness on the mother’s part. So they broke down and dropped their dreams of summiting mountains, biking long trails, or completing multi-day ski trips.
I knew difficult days would come. I also knew myself, my body, and where my mental clarity was/is found: in outdoor pursuits. I responded to the naysayers with logical explanations as to the how and the why related to my activity level and adventuring expectations as a mother, all while listening to their cautionary tales… but still received countless “Oh, just wait” responses. (Insert eye-roll here.)
Fast forward nearly two years to a gorgeous early winter morning in southern Colorado. With countless road trips, trail hikes, and Rio Grande river floats under our belts, two more backcountry ski hut trips and dozens of baby-towing ski tours, we were ready for our first bikepacking trip as a family of three. It was unseasonably warm, I was getting antsy for activity, and while, on a typical year, I would have spent that morning loading up our skis, my persistent restlessness instead resulted in releasing our bikes from their winter hibernation. If Mother Nature was giving snow chasers a big, stanky-sour middle finger, you better believe we made some slightly-tangy lemonade with it that day.
If I’m being honest, I’d also tell you that this trip had another purpose. We wanted a second child and I was ready for a new me: stronger, fiercer, and ready to take on any challenge by bike, ski, or other—with an 18+-month-old in tow. In an attempt to fulfill my personal fitness goals and clear my head of still-not-pregnant disappointment, I loaded up our Burley trailer with a mix of camping gear, cold weather layers, and comfort camp food and we headed for the national forest.
As I pedaled into the mid-day sun, the sweat poured down my face and back. I struggled with the “Why am I not pregnant yet” question… and the steepness of the terrain. My bike was over-packed, my son was asking “Are we there yet” and my hunger level was rising. Self-doubt and those all-too-common questions when things get tough crept right back into my mind―what am I doing here and why am I doing this?
Adventure is a funny thing. It calls to me in ways I don’t always know how to answer. I knew then and still know now that chasing outdoor pursuits with my family is critical to my existence. That’s a big statement, I know. I also know, thanks to life experiences and a myriad of “failed” and successful outdoor adventures, it is without a shred of doubt who I am and it has become who we, as a family, are.
Today, I’m two kids deep―a four year old and an 18+-month-old―and we chase adventures daily. Depending on the terrain and location, we load up either the single or the double and embrace whatever comes next. We cross-country ski, ride our fat bikes, take on bike fishing and backpacking excursions, and make time for daily jaunts around our neighborhood.
If there is one thing I learned by continuing to physically push myself after bringing two humans into this world it’s that persistence is the key. I must continually ask myself hard questions. If you don’t ask yourself―and the world around you―those hard questions, you will never know the answers. Can I tow my kid and overnight gear 20 miles today in the snow, rain, and wind? Yes. Yes, I can and I will.
This piece was made possible by Burley, who puts their heart and would into every bike trailer they make. Give them a follow on Insta at @burleydesign.