Guilt Tripping

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Hannah, our Editorial Manager, wants adventure for one, as well as her family of four…

I have come late to the adventure game. Until not that many years ago, riding a bike was a form of transport, not an activity in itself, and so my misspent youth lacked international bike packing adventures, ill advised jumps construction, or wheelie perfecting. I was focussed on getting from A to B.

Being somewhat conventional, A was usually home, and B was usually work. International adventure of any kind – with or without bikes – was off my agenda, as through university years I spent terms and summers working, not travelling. After uni it was straight into work. One good job, then a better job, and so on. Then time to buy a house, get married, have children. Conventional. And indeed absolutely the things that I wanted. Let’s be clear – I am not complaining. I love my husband, and my children, and the path that has led me to where I am has put me where I want to be.

Liv, hannah, sedona Picture credit: Sterling Lorence
Hannah, getting a taste for adventure. Picture Credit: Sterling Lorence.

But that doesn’t stop me wanting to be other places too. Mountain biking has let me see the possibilities that are out there – working for Singletrack has even let me have a little taste of them – but the fact remains that I am not a free spirit of an adventurer living out of my bar bag. I have responsibilities.

And herein lies the guilt.

If I go for a little ride at the weekend, I can handle the guilt. I can fit a ride into the time it takes everyone else to go to the cinema – they’re having fun, I’m having fun, wins all round. An all day play out starts to give pangs of guilt however. Spend 50% of the weekend out having fun, and probably be tired and cleaning up after your fun for a fair chunk of the remainder of the weekend. Guilt can be assuaged by my husband having the next weekend for playing out, but then when do you all do stuff together?

Sometimes my husband and I head away for a weekend of riding together. This is a glorious treat (even if his roadie predilections tend to have us covering miles of tarmac instead of moorland), and the guilt of leaving the kids with their grandparents is bearable. We’re pretty sure our kids like being allowed to watch loads of TV and being given ice creams, and Grandpa definitely uses them as an excuse to break his diabetic diet and eat things he shouldn’t.

But here comes the big guilt trip. I want more.

I want to ride for a week, or two, or even three. I want to ride across desert plains, or prairies, or countries. Through great forests and deep canyons. I want to ride under blue skies, grey skies, leaden skies. And worst of all? I want to do it alone. I want to ride free of consideration for anyone else, not worrying about whether the rider next to me is having fun, or getting hungry, or wanted go that way instead of this way. I want to ride, and be selfish about it.

I want to be completely self centred. I want to think only about my next meal, about the turning of my feet, about the trail ahead. I want to ride as slow or as fast as I want to. I want to stop and stare, and sleep, and take photographs, whenever I want to. I want to ride until I cry with exhaustion, and then crawl into a tiny one person tent and sleep until I’m ready for more.

These are not the pastimes of someone with responsibilities, like work, and children, and a school run.

Or are they? Perhaps I’m just using this an excuse not to do things that are a bit intimidating. Maybe I should just crack on and get out there. Maybe too, if I go out and have such adventures, my children will think that adventures are things that happen to real people, not just people on TV. Maybe I owe it to them to demonstrate that life doesn’t have to follow a 9 to 5 conventional path, and that adventures are something that can happen to them. We’re the biggest role model our children have – what better way to show them that they can, than by showing them that you can?

At least that’s what I’ll be trying to tell myself in the year ahead. Should you try and do the same?

Comments (2)

    Same predicament; role on when they go to uni!

    All of life is a compromise. I am lucky that in the 33 years Marie and I have been together, and the 31 we have had children, each year I have had a 2 week spell away on my own, but I have given back by helping Marie find time to do what she wants, and also going on holidays which would not be my first choice. It will be no help to you but it gets easier as you (and your children) get older, and we have been fortunate to do some travelling with the kids, even to exotic places like Ethiopia.
    One thing I still do is the Saturday morning 7am mountain bike session, home by 9.30 as everyone else is just getting up. I have learned by chance misdirected email that Marie has given me membership of the Austrian Alpine Club for Christmas, I wonder where this will lead next year. Life is so much easier when you are retired and your kids are grown up.

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