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“You can get off and walk your bike up the hill.” My husband Ron’s voice yelled behind me.

“No. I don’t quit.” It was as automatic a response, as if someone had asked me my name. And in that moment, I realized a truth about myself – I don’t quit.

So, despite the size of the hill and the Wyoming wind pressing against me, I pushed forward. My thighs burned, my side ached and, in the way I clutched the handlebars, I was certain I’d end up popping a wheelie. When I finally crested the top of the hill, I collapsed against my bike.

“You did it!” Ron’s enthusiasm was an unexpected treat. It was Sunday and he woke up wanting to “work out.”

The greatest feat I had planned was getting a hot cup of coffee and the Sunday newspaper.

But in the way his blue eyes practically danced at the idea of a long, Sunday bike ride, he was impossible to ignore. Ron’s the first and only blue-eyed man I ever dated. I knew I was in trouble when I met him on Christmas Day 2010 and the first thing I said to him was, “You have blue eyes.” And dang if those everything-will-be-all-right eyes don’t get me. They are full of personality and make his Charlie Brown-shaped head pop with expression.

But marriage is about compromise – so after we rode to coffee and placed a hot cup in our drink holders, we headed toward the grocery store. Ron wanted to use the bike path but I argued that would require backtracking or back-peddling. At my stupid suggestion, we took side streets only to discover there wasn’t a bike lane and, worse, there were four hills. Four. So, besides dodging parked cars, there were hills that never seemed to end.

By the time we got to the grocery store, my legs no longer felt connected to my body. My arms felt stretched like licorice whips. And I’m fairly certain I regressed to an ape with my knuckles scraping the floor. I would have been better off staying home and riding a Schwinn Evolution spinning bike instead of this Darwinian De-Evolution model that transmogrified me. My new apish appearance will truly test our “for better or worse” vows.

After we finished grocery shopping, I cheated and called my 16-year-old daughter, Ciara, to drive my Suburban and pick up me and my bike from the grocery store. While Ron pedaled home, I went online and calculated our ride on a cycling calculator. The 4.5 miles I rode basically burned the equivalent of 1/3 of a pound. And the pound of lean ground beef we bought from the butcher had more fat taken out of it than my hours of cycling. Yet, I’ll gain it all back, and more, after we have it for dinner.

I then searched online and discovered that a person typically burns about 63 calories in one hour when they are sleeping. The takeaway? I should have stayed in bed.

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Mary Billiter can be reached at


Opinion Editor

Dallas Bower joined the Star-Tribune copy desk in June 2017. She studied English at the University of Wyoming. Her favorite book is The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, or Harry Potter, depending on the day.

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