Friday, July 29, 2011

A Surprise Bicycle Birthday Party (for a 40-year old!)

The cake was a true work of art!
Chris will be one week shy of his 41st birthday when he finishes his 760-mile trek across France.  His 40th year rolled in on two wheels and it's only fitting that he usher it out in the same way.

I wanted to do something extra special for Chris' 40th birthday and I wanted that "extra special" to include recognition and celebration of his goal to ride in the Paris-Brest-Paris event.  So I did the one thing that I swore I'd never do.  I planned a surprise party for him.

A true work of art!
I can't keep a secret.  I don't intentionally spill the beans, but invariably I do.  I started planning Chris' surprise party months in advance.  More than enough time to get things done, ordered, organized.  Far too much time if you can't keep a secret.  I would not be surprised if Chris, at some point, suspected I was having an affair.
Chris and Glenn with well deserved beers in hand!

      I did amazingly well.  Chris did admit that he thought something might be up when he saw next to my laptop a scribbled list of names of our family and friends.  God love 'em.  He never said a word or tried to figure out the details.

     With the help of our amazing family and friends, we plotted to surprise Chris at the end of a long ride that our dear friend, Glenn, organized (a ride that would end up picking up a couple of new riders who had no idea what was about to unfold.)

Dave Might made this cake topper of Chris
     Friends and family gathered at Laura's house (Glenn's significant other and another dear friend of ours).  Glenn made up a story about leaving his wallet at Laura's house the night before and could the guys all take a quick detour so he could grab it from her?

     As they rolled up to Laura's, she gave us the signal and we all came pouring out of the side yard, yelling "SURPRISE," and laughing at the look of confusion on Chris' face.  Then laughing harder as he realizes what's going on. The outpouring of love, support, good-natured teasing, admiration, and encouragement for Chris was just plain awesome.  He and I both realized how lucky, how fortunate, how truly grateful we are that these beautiful people are a part of our lives.  You know who you are!  And we know that your good vibes and positive energy will surround Chris every minute that he is on that bike, pedaling hundreds of miles across France and making 40 look pretty darn great!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Paris-Brest-Paris: A Spouse's Perspective

Chris is good for me because he's my censor.  My pause button and impulse control.  He reminds me to "sleep on it" before making a big decision.  He's saved me money and a bit of pride on more than one occasion.

Chris, on the other hand, is careful and measured and rarely makes a bad decision. It's one of the things I love about him.  But it means a decision can incubate for a very long time as he turns the situation and all the options over and over in his mind.  As much as he reins me in, I try to be his kick in the butt.

When we first started talking about the possibility of him doing the Paris-Brest-Paris ride, he hesitated.  Can we afford it?  Would he be able to find the time to train enough, ride enough?  Was the timing right?  Was he a strong enough rider? 

"Just do it.  We'll figure out the details.  We'll make it work.  You can so totally do this," I tell him.  I admit I was not totally selfless in my encouragement.  A trip to France?!?  Of course, as a supportive spouse, I'd need to go with him.  He would need someone at the finish line holding that bottle of champagne in celebration.

I knew we were on our way to France when the alarm goes off at 3:45 a.m. on a cold, drizzly Saturday.  Chris is not a morning person.  The only time he willingly gets up at such an ungodly hour is the day we leave for our annual trip to the Outer Banks in the North Carolina.

When the alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. and he got up to leave for his brevet (one of the organized qualifying rides he had to do to be eligible for PBP), I snuggled into his side of the bed, with a smile on my lips, and dreamt of the Eiffel Tower.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Amy's been bugging me to start a blog with our departure only weeks away.  It seems fitting both chronologically and in light of the blistering heat outside now to start with the 200k, the first qualifier of the year.  After all, it was 18 degrees at the start of the ride.  Cold enough that I wondered if my shifters would just up and freeze.  (But not mine.  They're Campy, right?)  64 riders registered and less than half actually showed up.  That moment of hesitation before the start: "Should I add one more layer of clothing?  (Even though I know I'll shed it in an hour?)"
The ride started on March 26, and it was a crystal clear, starry morning.  I drove up from Cincinnati to Springfield at some merciless hour for the 7:30am beginning.  By the first control the sun was out, but the wind froze my goatee solid.  The teenybopper clerk at the convenient store stared at me with wide eyes and exclaimed "Omigod!  Your beard!  It's frozen!"  Yeah, well, it's cold out there.  Would you please sign my card?
The trick was to keep moving and not let those nagging doubts about enough training after an icy winter slow me down.  I ended up riding with a new, faster group of people, cramping miserably only miles from the end, but finishing nonetheless - ultimately the only important result toward qualification for PBP.