“But with all my heart and all my mind, I know one thing is true
I have just one life and just one love and, my love, that love is you
And if it wasn’t for you, darling, I really think that I would probably have somebody else”
– Tim Minchin
I got married on July 10, 2015.
Having said that, let’s first get out of the way the three things about weddings that fuel my my general disdain for all things weddings:
First, to those people who like to argue about the sanctity of marriage, you should recognize that any such sanctity is lost when the divorce rate in America is still quite high (although not as high as it was in the 1980s). Something can’t be sacred if we throw out that sacred thing.
Second, weddings have expanded into our generally high octane level of consumerism, resulting in elaborate and expensive multi-hour events that seemingly look exactly the same as most other similarly priced events. If one of the major talking points about getting married is the stress of planning a wedding, then I am not really sure where exactly the benefit of said wedding lies.
Third, we all need to quit pretending that marriages are a religious affair. That is to say, marriage was not something created by the major religions. They merely adopted the practice, which was originally used as a means of property exchange. That is in no way meant to tell people their wedding should have no religious component; do whatever you want to do. The point would be do not tell other people they need to have a pastor or priest and need to read from the bible and on and on with traditional religious ceremonies.
As you can see, I am quite salty about marriages and especially weddings; I spent the entirety of planning our wedding searching for a viable and willing groom surrogate so I would not have to attend the ceremony.
In an honest attempt to make the wedding something that I would actually enjoy, my wife was amazing at planning the unimportant nonsense only she cared about and letting me have fun with other aspects such as writing the program, the ceremony, and vows. We stuck to an impressively modest budget in comparison to the American average of $35k. She designed all of the invitations and other paper stuff herself and we had the wedding in the backyard of her childhood home, renting only a tent and some picnic benches and borrowing or having donated most everything else. Her aunt graciously decorated the entire backyard, her dad provided the hale bays for the ceremony, her mother and a stream of relatives and friends prepped and served the picnic-inspired meal, my sister handled the music, my lab mate was ordained just for the occasion, and our wedding bands were even donated by our grandmothers. My other contributions to making the day somewhat enjoyable for myself were my personally recorded mother/son dance and the bike ride to get me there.
The weekend before our wedding, I drove the three hours home from Kent, OH, to Falconer, NY, and spent six hours with my groomsmen recording a slow medley version of “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You” that D and G arranged. We could only hang out and record for that short time because that was the only time our schedules even remotely lined up. I drove back to Kent that night, woke up and walked six miles to school for my weekly Monday meetings and to take care of some other research-y loose ends. In the afternoon, I walked home and immediately went to bed.
When I woke up, I suited up for the ride to New York and I left just as the clock changed over to Tuesday, the 7th of July. This trip was a recapitulation of RTYD II in reverse and also served to make up for the failed attempts in 2015, one of which was derailed by a broken wrist the day before departure. I trained hard for this ride, including a few 50-mile rides:
And then progressing to longer distances as the deadline for the big ride approached:
103-Mile Training: Charging Ahead
For this training ride, it was a total of 103 miles out West and then back East but my phone died halfway there. In my recent tech post, I reference the fact that I always travel with an external battery pack to charge my phone because using the GPS apps to map the ride and to provide my wife with my location takes a lot of juice. On this trip, I was properly prepared with a fully charged battery pack as I set out for the century, but I did not realize that the cord I brought to charge the phone with had decided to not function anymore.
As a result, I got to Wellington, OH, and my phone was on two percent instead of…not that low. I called my wife quickly, told her the phone was dead and went to work to try and jigger the stupid cord to charge in classic graduate student fashion by wrapping the cord this way and that to try and get it to work. Egad, no luck. I ended up walking to a drug store and buying a new cable, charging the phone enough to get it back on at a convenience store, and then plugging it into the external battery. I launched a new map and set out for home.
I remember just how much this whole process sucked. When you have something derail you like the phone issue, you lose all rhythm and focus. Then you have to saddle up and bike 50 miles into a head wind. I remember my legs being completely dead as I tried to make my way east along Route 303, which has 2,100 feet of climb.
118-Mile Training: Zoo Day
One of the best training rides was a trip that I took about two weeks before the wedding ride. It was quite useful for two reasons: First, I was taking the same route I would take for the wedding ride all the way to Erie, PA, so I had a chance to get used to the terrain and to the departure time of 12 am. Second, I got to see my 1-year-old nephew at the zoo in Erie. I left around midnight and biked the 9 hours and 118 miles to the zoo.
My wife drove me home that day and I remember being quite tired on the drive, nodding off several times, which is odd for me because I never sleep in the car.
The zoo ride was my last legit ride until the wedding ride, committing to just my daily commute for the remaining days and no biking whatsoever for three days prior to big ride (technically four days because I left Tuesday morning).
The Wedding Ride (193 Miles)
The weather was great, I posted quite possibly my best time ever on a near double century ride, and only one spot of trouble occurred around Westfield, NY. In RTYD II, this was where I had lost my phone. I remember feeling very tired at this pit stop, filling up on water. When you are biking like that, at least for me, you never feel sleepy tired, but you do feel a certain form of exhaustion. For me, that manifests as wavering vision and a wave of fatigue through my whole body. I remember sitting on the ground, back against the brick wall of the convenience store in Westfield feeling a little weird. Nothing like the horror show that was my insides towards the end of RTYD I, but still didn’t feel great. If you notice the elevation graph at the bottom of the map, you’ll see that almost all of the climb occurs towards the end of the ride, which is to say after you get through Westfield.
I sat on the ground for a bit longer than a normal break, just trying to work myself up to getting back to it and finishing off the last 30 miles or so. I have no idea how much climb I did before I had to stop again. I know that it was not much. I did a few rounds of pacing, trying to get myself back into it and that didn’t work so I called my wife-to-be and had her talk to me while I pedaled up the Westfield hills. She just talked, telling me about her day, the plans moving forward. I needed that distraction and when she had to go, I called up the girl who would serve as our officiant in a couple of days and she got me through the rest of the ride.
I finally made it to my parents house, ate some pizza, and immediately went to bed. I got up around 7 am the next day and set to work prepping 20 pies for our wedding because cake is potentially the worst. One of things I forgot to mention in my above rant about weddings is how gross cake is. I don’t want to hear these random ridiculous claims of the proverbial, and seemingly mythical, moist cake. Cake is gross. Enough said. So, instead of cake, we had pie at the wedding. #thanksgram
In the end, I did have to attend my own wedding and got married on my 10-year anniversary, raking in those sweet tax breaks and despite the lack of viable wedding hashtags (#emmagetslynched #lynchmob2014). Such a travesty.
I will remember this ride and all of the events surrounding it as truly epic fun. But, I will also remember this ride because it still stands as one of my best rides ever in terms of time and overall speed and efficiency. If I can get such performance out of some or all of the days of the upcoming July trip, I will be very happy.