September 19, 2011
Or, what I planned to say when I officiated my little sister’s wedding on Saturday. There was a technical issue (broken Kindle which contained these words) and the inevitable mispoken phrase, but more or less, here it is:
Now, with my obligatory Princess Bride reference out of the way…
Welcome to the Tour de Wilson.
Cait and Brad have invited you all here today to witness their official union as a married couple and, because I’m an expert in both marriage and cycling, I’ve been asked, and granted the power to officiate the ceremony. On their behalf, I apologize.
One day, about 10 years ago, I needed someone’s help moving furniture for my mom. I don’t really remember much of the story, but I vaguely remember driving to Alameda from Sacramento with a lifeguard I worked with at Sac State.
I don’t actually remember when, but at some point my little sister and Brad met, chatting for the first time. Four years later, six years ago Thursday, they went on their first date. They officially started dating on Halloween of that year and, at 9:05 PM on July 14 of 2010, they got engaged.
Today, Brad and Cait will join together as a team and embark on a new part of their relationship, the Tour de Wilson. They will, for the first time, don matching jerseys and Lycra shorts – and let me just say, we all thank you for opting not to wear Lycra today – and head out on the road as a team, officially.
Brad and Cait have been training together for some time now so, they have some idea of what the road ahead might bring them. Today, as they set out, it is all champagne, smiles and posing for photographs. With all the fanfare and adrenaline, you’ll set off on your way, with the wind at your back, cruising along easily with smiles on your faces.
At some point the road will turn and tilt upward or the wind might shift and each pedal stroke will take everything you have. It will be hard work but you’ll have each other. You will take turns pulling each other through the wind and pacing each other up the steep climbs. Working together will make the ride easier than it would be alone and you will be grateful for your teammate.
And, along the way, each of you will face setbacks: a puncture or mechanical incident, or, maybe just fatigue from a particularly long climb. At these times the burden of work will fall to the other rider on the team and, without complaint or a second thought the stronger one, on that day, will ride in front, taking as much of the burden as possible, letting the other sit in your slipstream and recover.
Just like the teams in the Tour de France, Brad and Cait won’t be alone as they race the Tour de Wilson. We’ll line the roads, cheering them on as they ride along. They will see as at the summit of every climb and along the long, barren flats. We’ll be behind them, in the team car, ready to lend a hand when needed. Our job, all of us, is to support them as needed: to change a wheel, or offer a water bottle, But they’ll be doing the lion share of the work out on the road.
There are unwritten rules about how to ride on a team. Little things that are transparent to those of us who watch the tour on TV. The cardinal rule is that you never talk badly about a teammate. Out on the road, teammates sometimes make mistakes, tactical errors that will increase the workload for both of you. And you might want to point the finger and place blame. You might get angry with each other. But, as part of the team, it will be your job to support your teammate and resist the urge to stand in front of the cameras and point out what mistakes were made that day (and whose fault it was). You save your anger or frustration for the team bus where the two of you can speak honestly and make the strategic changes that need to be made.
The Tour de Wilson will be hard work, but it won’t always be difficult. Fatigue is easily forgotten when at the summit of a climb feeling strong and you see the road laid out before you, cutting through the green woods of the high mountain pass. Here you will ride together, shoulder to shoulder, feeling invincible. There will be times when you roll into town, sipping champagne from your saddles celebrating another victory for the team. And there will be times when you decide to sit up and coast, side-by-side taking everything in because, hey, there’s no rush.
You will ride together and laugh together and we will watch as, maybe, your team grows. And all of us will stand by the road as you pass and cheer you on because we all love you and we all know the love you have for each other.
A bit of advice for you, one thing I can offer, is to just forget about what all the other teams out on the road are doing and ride your own race.
Not so many days ago, I was writing these words and thinking back trying to remember that day you met, because of me. It seemed odd to me that I had absolutely no recollection of that day and that the two of you remembered it so well – even though it was 4 years before you’d start dating. Cait, in a text you said that of course you and Brad remembered, “it was love at first sight…” You’re welcome.
Remember that love as you ride the Tour de Wilson and, together, you will ride in front of the pack.