A healthier mom’s back-to-school ritual

gravelgrinderSeveral years ago, another mom shared her secret back-to-school ritual: Making herself a decadent chocolate cake to savor in peace after the kids got on the bus.

Even though we were home schooling at the time, I could totally relate to the idea of celebrating some much-needed alone time with some kind of dietary debauchery. By the time my kids were actually all in school, though, I was trying to put all that in the rear view mirror.

On Tuesday, after Ben and Cassie’s bus had come and gone, Colleen and I rode laps around the driveway while we waited on her elementary school bus. Though we have a lot of fun together, I couldn’t help anticipating that moment when I could begin my own back-to-school ritual. The ideal way to celebrate, in my mind, would be a long run — maybe even to the bakery. But I had some work I needed to get done and I was already scheduled to meet my sister for a noon run, so that was out.

I thought about taking my own road bike out for a spin, but again, I didn’t have an abundance of time and a short ride wouldn’t be very satisfying. Finally, I realized I was already sitting on the solution: I’d take Cassie’s cruiser on a mini-gravel grinder.

That this hasn’t happened before is a testament to the power of feng shei, in my opinion. When I was growing up, the little-used gravel road became a natural extension of our driveway at an early age.

Because we live along a fairly busy highway, our kids have been pretty much trapped in our driveway unless we haul their bikes somewhere or escort them ourselves.

Even though I’m a grownup, I haven’t taken Cassie’s cruiser out of the driveway, either, because it just doesn’t seem speedy enough for a highway ride. Until yesterday, I was fairly content to just tool around the driveway on it whenever I needed a mental screen saver break.

But it wasn’t hard to ride the quarter mile to the nearest gravel road, and once there, those fat tires were perfect for gravel crunching a road that almost always seems freshly graded.

There was no speed involved. And when I got to the smallish hill at the end, there was nothing to do but stand up on the pedals, little kid style.

I don’t think I’d want to ride a long way on a gravel road with a single-geared cruiser. Though gravel roads make me feel all nostalgic, I don’t see myself becoming a gravel grinder afficionado. But it was a fun way to carve out my own back-to-school ritual.

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