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I made a big purchase last week.

I bought a mountain bike.

Last summer, I wrote about finding my dad’s old mountain bike in the basement of my parents’ home, and how excited I was to get out and explore some of the kickass bike trails in my region. I mentioned that the bike was a little too big for me, and it turns out that a little too big and a lot too big pose the same challenges. On a quick spin around my neighborhood, my dad’s beloved Specialized was just not cutting it for me. Instead of feeling empowered and getting a workout, I felt wobbly and insecure. I put the bike back in the basement and resigned myself to browsing Craigslist until I found a deal.

And then I found a deal.

I found a Raleigh Talus 2.0, which retails at $450, for less than a quarter of that price. Its owner was a teenage boy who’d outgrown it after only a year of light use. His parents had purchased it new for him at the bike shop right here in town. I met the boy’s mother at a nearby park to take it for a test ride. As soon as I put my weight on the pedals and took off, I felt that surge I had when I hopped on my Huffy for the first time as a 14-year-old. Freedom. I bought the bike on the spot.

The Raleigh has 21 speeds, so I have to re-familiarize myself with them. I swapped its standard seat with the gel cushion seat from my dad’s Specialized, and I’ll have to buy a kickstand, new water bottle holder, and helmet. But, you guys…FREEDOM.

Within two days, I was on Rails to Trails and biked 20 miles round-trip. I felt great. Ok, my ass hurt like you don’t even know, but the rest of my body felt great. It was pretty uplifting for the spirit, too. I surprised myself by being able to do 20 miles. Granted, Rails to Trails isn’t hilly or treacherous terrain. But I kept a good pace—until I had to stop every mile and a half or so to give my aching tailbone a break. (I already have a Hobson Easyseat on my Amazon wish list. No ass pain is going to keep me off this bike.)

Jax is next. He turns 4 in October, so by next summer, I will be looking for a bike for him. The bike rack that fits on my Honda CR-V is also on my wish list. For now, I will hit the trails on the weekends Jax is not with me. When he is, he rides his scooter through our yard and around our neighborhood with me circling him lazily on my Raleigh.

“I like mommy’s big bike,” he says. “Go FAST, mommy!” So I do for a minute, and he gets IMG_5095this gleam in his eyes that must be like the one I had when I was 14 and first saw that purple and teal Huffy, or last week when I handed a small wad of cash to another mom whose son was growing up FAST.

Soon, baby.

Anyway. I bought a mountain bike, and riding it is my fitness, my wellness, my healing, and a kind of freedom I didn’t know I was missing. After more than a year of shopping around, I finally scored.

See you on the trails.

Got a bike? Got another outdoor fitness fave that makes you feel like a kid again?