It's been a whirlwind two weeks since my last race(s) of the 2012 season. Regarding those two races, they were less than ideal for me, but I raced hard and leave the 2012 season feeling good. I flew back home to Wisconsin on Monday after the race, where I spent the week trying to start my recovery and preparing for my brother's wedding. It was a quick but nice time at home with the family. Friday was a fun evening at the rehearsal service and dinner. Saturday brought the big day for my brother. Honorably selected as his best man, I did my best to help him have a great day and feel special. We started the day with a power breakfast at the Machine Shed restaurant. Two of his close friends were with us, too, so we shared good conversation, food, and laughs. Following breakfast, it was off for a final hair trim to make sure he looked good standing up in front of the church.
Once we got "tuxed" up, we loaded up into the shuttle and headed off to start pictures. Easy and painless smiles, a few different poses, and it was time for the ceremony. I came through in my first big role of the day having not lost the rings, so they were able to have the ring when they said "I do". After the nice ceremony, we hopped into the shuttle again and headed to the reception. A few more pictures, a cocktail hour, and dinner were on the menu before the dancing began. During the dinner was my next "clutch" moment of the day. I'm still undecided on whether or not I came through though because my best man's speech was more of an uncontrollable stream (literally) of emotion than a speech. I definitely did not anticipate being so overcome with emotion, but I guess I should have expected it given I was already feeling emotional at the rehearsal ceremony the day before. Whatever the case, I did my best to tell my brother (Aaron) he is special to me, I love him, I am excited for him and Amanda (my new sister-in-law), and we're excited to have Amanda as part of the family. Following the toasts/speeches and dinner, the slide show prepared by Aaron showcasing pictures from each of his and Amanda's journeys toward their meeting was played, then it was party time. The DJ, who is a family friend and played at Lisa and my wedding, put on a good show, again. The dance floor was busy with young and old alike. The party went on until only a few remained. Aaron's teammates held on for a good, long time until their shuttle arrived, but the last standing were my in-laws, my parents, the parent's of the bride, and Lisa and me. We'd had all we could handle though, and it was time to head home to try and get some sleep!
Sunday brought a day of recovery and more family time. For the majority of the day, Lisa worked on the finishing touches of her dissertation while I finished packing up for our next adventure. In the evening, we headed over to my brother's house to watch the Packers play the Texans. They were leaving on their honeymoon Monday, so we made it a family evening with some darn delicious chili and a good football game.
On Monday, Lisa and I were up early, along with my Dad, and off to Decorah for the next few days. We hadn't been to Decorah in Autumn in several years, so it was awesome to be back when the colors were good and the weather just beginning to turn crisp. I did a couple nice bike rides which were instant reminders of how much I love it there. I also did some bow hunting, but I didn't have the success of the past. I had my opportunities, but I failed to connect. I passed up one opportunity on a small buck, and I shot over the top of a nice buck that evening at last light. I was definitely disappointed to have missed, but I was much happier to have a clean miss than a bad shot. Hopefully I'll be able to make it back in December or January for the late bow or muzzleloader season. On the last morning of our stay in Decorah, I took my first run of the off-season. It was awesome to retrace a few streets of my old stomping grounds, and even better was the fact that I didn't feel too bad while running! After the run, it was off to MSP for my flight to Austin, TX for the Livestrong Challenge weekend.
It was my first time to Austin, but I certainly hope not my last. It seems like a really cool city with a lot of options for shopping, dining, and recreation. Friday night was the Livestrong Gala dinner where the focus was on telling the story of Livestrong's 15th anniversary. The food and company were great, along with good entertainment from Norah Jones, Steven Marley, and Robin Williams. The ultimate goal was of course to talk about Livestrong and its mission, which was a powerful reminder of how devastating a disease cancer is. On Saturday, we were part of a ride for the top fundraisers (over $35,000). The main attraction was Lance, but we were there to mingle among the others. It was a fun little ride and nice to talk with people from across the nation who had raised so much money for a great cause. Saturday afternoon we had a social hour at Mellow Johnny's where there was a little Q&A, then some autographs. The hit of the afternoon was obviously Jens, but the crowd was excited for everyone. That brings us to today. I was up bright and early this morning for the 7:30am start. The majority of us rode the 65 mile route, but it wasn't the easiest of off-season rides! The pace was nice until about mile 30 when things began to escalate, quickly I might add. The attacks and games began, and it was a stiff reminder of how quickly you can lose your form. I was in the hurt locker big time for the next 30-40km while we played around attacking each other. Eventually everyone decided they had enough for a bit, and the pace mellowed out a bit before a final flurry of fun in the last 10km before the finish. Overall it was fun ride, fun weekend, and a great cause. I hope I can come back again to check out the city of Austin a bit more and do the ride again.
As I think back on these whirlwind two weeks, I come across one dramatic theme: the importance of family and friends. Lisa and I spend a lot of time in Europe away from our family and closest friends. We of course have good friends there, too, but the return to Decorah for me was a strong reminder of the amazing community and support system we established in our 5 years there. And of course the time with our families is an ever-present reminder of how blessed we are to have such amazing parents and siblings. Without the support of our families and friends, we definitely wouldn't be where we are today, so I want to say thank you to everyone near and far for your support of us as we continue on our journey.
Speaking of journey, I'd like to give a quick rundown of our future journey(s). After a few days with Lisa's family in Minnesota, we're off to Madison on Friday for the Saris Gala to promote WI bicycle advocacy. Check it out at www.sarisgala.com and stop by if you can! Then Saturday is a flight to New Mexico for Lisa's dissertation defense on Monday. She's well prepared, and I'm sure she's going to crush it. So proud of her! Wednesday we'll drive to Boulder where I will take part in ride testing for Trek on Thursday. Friday we're hoping to make it back to WI for a final night/day until we head out to Brevard, NC where we're going to stay put for at least a week... we hope! Thanks for coming back to read again.