Butcher Paper: Waiting Room

By Kristin Butcher
Photo by Kevin Lange

It’s three in the morning and I’m waddling around my darkened shoebox of a house, wondering why the hell I’m awake this early in the morning—again.

I’ve hit the stage of pregnancy in which I wake up for several hours during the middle of the night. Not out of stress. Or discomfort. Or even an insatiable need to pee. I just wake up, as if I accidentally signed on for a crash course in sleep deprivation.

The three on the clock turns into a four. Needing a change of scenery, I make my way to the couch for some bad late-night television. I start believing life’s problems can be solved by ordering a ShamWow through the call-now number and realize that I need to turn off the TV.

To the garage I go.

Night is holding on to its last remnants of darkness and the cool morning air stings my skin with the same pleasure-pain feeling of a steaming hot shower after a day in the snow. Once again, I end up sitting on a stool in the garage,
surrounded by bikes and paint cans and the silence of other peoples’ sleep.

It’s an oddly comforting place during the middle of the night. Lacking any windows, the garage is always either dark or flickering with fluorescent light. This is the only place in the house that doesn’t remind me that it’s almost sunrise.

Staring at the fleet of bikes that I’ve Lego’d together over the decades is usually a comforting experience. But at this moment, the sight makes me hunger for something I can’t have. It’s been four months since my last ride—and I still have at least three more to go. Though I was fortunate enough to ride during my last pregnancy, this time is different. This time I’m
officially ‘off the bike’, reducing my beloved quiver to a dusty coat rack surrounded by cobweb shanty towns. My hydration pack is on the same hook I hung it on four months ago.

Some would call the partially fi led bladder a disgusting collection of funk. I prefer to think of it as creating a micro-ecosystem from a few basic elements. Like I’m a science teacher—or a really lazy god.
Sticking out of the pack are sweat-and-dirt-laced gloves hardened by time into a desiccated claw, still searching for a brake lever. I have no clue where my helmet is. To steal a phrase from Mike Ferrentino, who has the largest vocabulary of nearly anyone I know, “Fuck.”

In this fog of somnolence, the wheeled exploits I’ve been so fortunate to experience are obscured by the rides I’m missing during my time off the bike. In a few weeks, Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park will shutter its doors to men-folk for an entire day to be filled with women trying new things with other women.

The sausage party of mountain biking is a fantastic community to be part of, even if you’re not smuggling grapes in your spandex, but there’s nothing quite like experiencing a 110,000-square-foot bike playground overrun with women who love to ride. Where else can you watch novices in skorts wobble over logs, catch a fleeting glimpse of a pony-tail whipping end-over-end before landing in the foam pit or say the phrase, “women trying new things with other women” without eliciting images of women’s-prison movies?

Also shelved is the road trip to Oregon to flow down trails weaving past waterfalls and