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Bike path in Los Fuertes Park, Puebla, México

I slip my right leg over my white and silver bike frame, feeling the weight under me for the first time since we left Alabama. Adrián is by my side, encouraging me. I’m a bit nervous since it’s been almost 6 months since I’ve ridden.

I’m uncertain of the path, questioning my own skills to take my Giant Avil out again. Something as simple as riding a bike has become daunting again. Will I slip on gravel? Will I be able to make it up the steep hills? Will I lose control on the descents? Will I be able to keep up with my husband?

“We’ll take it slow,” he says. We coast down the first descent, my brakes my best friend, as we wind through concrete and gravel debris. The trail runs throughout the median of the Puebla belt line, so cars, trucks, and motorbikes whip past us on either side, taking their passengers swiftly along.

Each time we’ve driven by this route in the car, I’ve kept my eyes peeled for road bikes, trying to reassure myself I will be safe in the unknown road.

And today, we venture forward, past the first 3 kilometers and reach the cushioning bright bicycle blue path that runs forward. The ride is a new venture here in México, but something I’ve done countless other times on other roads.

At this time of day, we cross paths with several other cyclists, but they all appear to be heading home from work. The bike is not a means for recreational exercise for them, but a transportation necessity.

The clash of cultures hits me occasionally. This is one of them. The few women I see on the trail are usually running. I know female cyclists must exist, because the bike shops sell the gear and equipment for women. The only female cyclists I’ve seen are usually training professionally, and next to them, I feel inadequate.

I’m thankful to my husband for his encouragement. He knows my dream is to compete in a duathlon, and so it was his idea to ship my bike across the border. He spent countless hours researching the methods and materials that would protect it best. Upon arrival, my bike came in a cardboard box, well-cushioned and protected from any rough handling. It arrived safely, but it still needed to be re-assembled and then adjusted for size.

Some days I feel like my bike made a quicker transition than I have, but I am encouraged by today’s ride. The times I feel lost in translation or confused by culture, I am reminded this is only the beginning of this journey. I am in the process of reassembling my life, and one day, with a few tweaks, I will be rushing downhill, feeling the wind, without fear.

Born a Midwestern American, now a permanent Mexican resident. Outdoor adventurer, language enthusiast, and lover of classical music.

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