I was not an athletic kid. My first experience with team sports was soccer, and I hated it. Too shy to take the ball from anyone, my long hair all over my face in the Texas panhandle wind, I stood guard at the goal hoping the ball didn’t come near me. Team sports and I were not exactly simpatico.
Needless to say, I could not understand why my husband always said basketball was his favorite sport, even above mountain biking. “Because of the camaraderie,” he’d explain. I simply didn’t get it.
It wasn’t until I had my first kid and wanted to get back into shape that I discovered the joys of road biking. This wasn’t just any cycling, however. It was cycling in what I called “a pod” with three of my closest friends. What we lacked in speed we more than made up for in number of words exchanged. The four of us gals attempted three different Centuries (100 miles) over the course of the summer. Some of us succeeded, others didn’t, one of us was pregnant at the time, and one of us was so athletic she rode a mountain bike that didn’t fit her the whole 100 miles of the Enchanted Circle Century. I have the fondest memories of those days.
I write this not to relay my sub-par athletic endeavors, but to share the joys of accomplishing a task with a group of close friends. There is something about working on a common goal together that enhances a relationship and creates a more meaningful friendship.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Last year four friends and I hiked the Crest Trail. Twenty-six gorgeous miles starting from the base of the Sandias in Tijeras and ending in Placitas. We laughed, shared food, talked about our travels, our husbands, our kids. We even performed minor surgery when one of us fell into a cactus. I came away from that experience both marveling that my feet were still somewhat attached to my body, but also how lovely all of my friend’s were in different ways: Karin’s humor, Kate’s classiness, Katherine’s athleticism, Sara’s perseverance.
I needed all of my girls to finish the hike. On my own I would have given up. They each delivered, making the long miles easier to handle.
You don’t have to hike until your toe-nails fall off to bond. Choose an activity none of you have done before or a destination that is new. Work on it together. Want to get to know someone better? Invite them on a 26 mile hike. Trust me. You will learn things about each other over the next eleven hours. If nothing else, that your friends know how to dry heave with grace.
If you are a stay-at-home mom or your job isn’t centered around teamwork, this is an added element to your life I think you’ll find rewarding and meaningful.
I actually enjoy hiking and mountain biking on my own. It’s quite relaxing.
But there is something about doing a shared experience together that bonds you in a way that a trip to the spa or a chat around the coffee table doesn’t.
You are all in it together. When one of you is feeling weak, the rest of you wait or offer what you have to get her back on her feet.
It doesn’t matter if you’re hiking or biking or canoeing or climbing a tree. Get outside with a group of gals and do whatever it is you love.
John Muir said it best,” In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir knows.