After her own existential crisis following an adventure gone awry, new mum Kristin Kent talked to other mothers to find out how they got back on their proverbial (and literal) bikes.
I had an existential crisis on a fat bike.
After 10 months of caring for a baby, I was ready for my big ride in the Canadian Rockies. I trained hard to get my body back in shape. I was mentally ready to leave my little love for two short days.
Fast-forward to the trailhead. We’re riverside, surrounded by mountain peaks and glorious blue skies. Water droplets fall from the snow-covered pines. There’s a group of us checking our brakes and testing turns on our fat-tires—and there’s no way anyone or anything is wiping that woohoo-ing smile off my face. This is what I live for. This is who I am.
I couldn’t wait. For the first time since before my pregnancy, I was adventuring in the mountains. I was going to be me again.
About 10 minutes into the heart-pumping ride on flat terrain, we take a sharp right and head up into the backcountry towards Sundance Lodge in Banff National Park. I’m told there’ll be campfires, and card-playing, and the best kind of banter. But first, I have to make it up this damn hill.
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After that right turn, I quickly fall from first to dead last in the pack and I have no choice but to get off my bike and push. The snow is slushy and I’m sweating like never before. Hour after hour of slogging that bike up the Canadian Rockies, I’m completely deflated. And if we don’t get there soon, I’m going to have to whip out this breast pump from my pack to relieve my lactating boobs.
This is when the up became a down and I’m soon whipping around those turns like I knew I could. I’m full of adrenaline and ego—“See, you’re doing it”—when I go head-over-handlebars into the snow pack.
Tess Strokes, a writer and editor from Aspen, Colorado, knew prioritizing her own health would help her be a better mom. She got back on her skis 17 days postpartum, and was in the backcountry 10 days after that, despite her son having colic. “I am not exaggerating when I say he didn’t sleep more than 60 minutes at a time for six months,” she says. “I felt more fragile than usual, and I probably should I have chosen sleep over exercise more than I did, but getting outside and doing the things I love were, and still are, just as important to my health as sleep.”
Chelsey Magness, an athletic trainer and mother from Bend, Oregon, took the same approach. She gave birth to twins at 39 weeks, but one, who she has named Spirit B, was stillborn. “The only way for me to get through my grief was physical exertion, and to be out in nature,” she says. “For me, I felt physically fine, but I would just cry and cry every time my heart rate went up. Every woman is different, emotionally and physically.”