Many of you know the beginning of this story. You’ve either heard it told — or you were there. My grandfather used to tell stories over and over, as if the listener was hearing for the very first time. The family would groan at the yearly queuing of the Ocelot story — but I loved hearing it — every time. And now, I think I understand the repetition — he told it for himself. To remember. So please bear with me as I tell the beginning of this adventure.
Some would argue that this story started on what is known as the Airport ride in Atlanta, Georgia — in November of ’03 — but in my mind that’s really Jennifer and Javaun’s story — ours really began a few months later in April of ’04.
It was a shop/team ride from Outback bikes. L5flyers – later Aaron’s – cycling team. In retrospect I was in over my head. The bike was last ridden that previous November where I had met Jennifer, Javaun and Scott. I was out leagued in fitness and ability but was desperate for friends — so I showed up to ride. It was to be a 60 mile ride, but I fell apart at the half way point. Some jerk was driving the pace on the front and I couldn’t hang in — and I panicked. Nausea, sweaty palms — sick. The kind of sick only anxiety can produce. Pete, the shop owner stayed with me and called for help. Help was the ride leader — the jerk driving the pace. Rumor has it he pacelined back to the store and grabbed the wagon to sag me out.
I sat in the car keeping quiet, embarrassed. And he drove me home. Maybe he wasn’t such a jerk.
I met my Tall Southern Guy that day, or remet him. Either way, I remember the beginning as April 4, 2004. We married December 17, 2005.
And since then it’s continued to be a big bike adventure like no other. I met him and almost all of our best friends while on the bike. I’ve started a timeline below — but this is just the beginning. Some of you were there then, but not all.
- April 4, 2004: Meet on a bike ride.
- Following weekend: Our first weekend away, Raccoon Mountain Race — Scott wins his category. (I know it seems “fast” but by 36 you know the good from the bad.)
- May 2004: Scott gives me a Bianchi Reparto Corse and says he wants to marry me. I tell him to hold that thought and “by the way, you know I’m crazy, right?”
- My first team: I join his team L5Flyers and meet the gang — the first gang.
- We start the Winter Excursion rides: We meet Molly. Molly lives in my memory with many adventures but the most hilarious is she came to Scott’s surprise birthday party in February and neither Scott nor I knew who she was. We’d never seen her without a helmet.
- Summer of 2005: I go to France to finish my art program. Scott unknowingly funds a bike purchase that I use to explore Normandy. I leave it with the nuns at the convent where I stayed.
- August 2005: I return home and we take a cycling trip to Estes Park, Colorado at the suggestion of Julie Gaz.
- Same trip: Julie, Scott and I ride our first of many trips up Trail Ridge. We always start at 4 AM. Julie’s Rules.
- Same trip: I’m waiting for the ring. I know he has it because I snooped his email.
- Same trip: I text my parents — “still no ring.”
- Same trip: Day 5 or 6. We start a planned 100 mile loop on the Peak to Peak Highway. Mile 7– I put my foot down. “I’m done with this Adventure,” I cry.
- Mile Marker 7: Peak to Peak just outside of Estes a ring is produced — I ride 85 more miles.
- Return to Atlanta: Married by one of our teammates. Another racer/friend is the photographer. It’s Winter — I wear my arm warmers under my long velvet gloves.
- Honeymoon: Asheville. We bring 4 bikes. My first time mtn biking in the snow. I may have cried.
- Return to Atlanta: We dream up the Colorado plan…
Well, Colorado is the chapter we are in now. I’m looking forward to the next seven years with the Tall Southern Guy and the gang. Let the adventures roll on and let me forever remember 4-4-4.