Monday, November 30, 2015

Deck the Halls and Other Sad Songs

After Scott's rousing basketball victory at midday (where he scored his season-high 8 points), we spent the rest of Saturday decking the halls. First, Scott and I took the stepladder out to hang lights around the edge of the garage door, which is mainly a process of Scott climbing up and down the ladder and fastening zip ties to various hooks that I put in place in a previous year. There were no incidents, as he is a pretty careful ladder-climber and I hovered at his elbow at all times. He retreated to the house, citing the chills. I think it was because he was wearing thin warm-up pants over his basketball shorts and the pants are about 1 year too short for him now.

Katie came bouncing out the door with a big smile and her jacket unzipped to pick up where Scott left off. Katie was a wonderful assistant and we made rapid pace along the front gutter to the front door where Scott slid the window open a crack to play Christmas carols on the piano for our entertainment. All was well through very polished renditions of Jingle Bells and Rudolph, where Katie and I managed to wrap the lights around the railing and one of the trees out front, but then we hit a snag at Deck the Halls. Scott was struggling with the song and eventually R must have tried to give him a hint about the note that he was missing and he broke down in tears.

Later on it was my turn to break down, as we discovered that the new white lights that I had purchased at Canadian Tire for the Christmas tree were actually the wrong colour of white. I had purchased "cool white", while the pine & holly garland that we got for the railing had "warm white" lights in it -- even though both of lights were made by the same company and you would never guess they were different until you lit them up at home like we did. We had to strip the tree of its cool white lights and replace them with our old multi-coloured lights, since the stores had all closed for the evening and no one really wanted to put off the rest of the hall-decking, especially hanging up all the cool ornaments that the kids receive every year from the Dustan Family out in Ottawa.

Fa-la-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Kids on Bikes, Dad on Foot Downtown

[Sep 26 2015]

Fall has been absolutely beautiful this year. The weather has been reasonably warm and we haven't had one of those big windstorms yet that pulls all the leaves off the trees so the colours have lingered longer than usual. We tried to take advantage of the weather to ride bikes downtown. It was an interesting adventure.

We loaded the bikes on the car and headed downtown, planning to ride for a bit before grabbing dinner and having a grand time at Dad's office. As we unloading the car, I realized that Katie's helmet was still lying on the floor near the garage door at our house, protecting no heads. I faced a moment of indecision. To return home would be nearly an hour round trip, effectively using up our allocated riding time. However, I had already learned my lesson years ago about putting Katie on bikes without a helmet. I considered whether there was a bike shop close enough to buy one. As my mind raced from one idea to the next, Scott stood nearby making his own observations:

"You can't let a kid ride without a helmet. That is against the law."

That's right. Kids under 18 have to ride with a helmet, but adults have the option of riding without a helmet. Wait, that is the solution! My helmet has an internal head-band type adjustment that I cranked all the way down to Katie-size, and then adjusted the straps to fit. It wasn't perfect, but it was a helmet, and we were back in business.

After just a few minutes of riding, I realized I had a flat tire on my bike. we came back to the car where I filled it again. A moment later it was flat again, and the valve seemed to be broken. So I took the wheel off the bike and jammed in the back of the car and I ran behind the kids as they rode. Man, at the beginning of the summer, that was an easy task, but both of these kids have gotten a lot faster this year! It was all I could do to keep up, trying to shout directions to them as I gasped for air.

After riding by the drop-in center and the old Cecil Hotel, we loaded up the bikes again and drove to the nearest McDonald's for some happy meals. However this McDonald's is half-way down the block on the pedestrian avenue and doesn't have a drive through, so we had to walk in. Since my fairly expensive bike was dangling on the back of the car, I decided to bring it with us into the restaurant. We navigated between various tables and [ahem] less refined characters to a spot by the corner window where the kids could hold onto my bike and still see any incidents that might happen along the avenue. I have been in the McDonald's a few times late at night and I have witnessed some interesting things, including the time that a man had to shoo away someone who was trying to pick through his meal while it was still sitting on the order counter. No incidents to report this time, but we did end up having a discussion about what responsibility we have to help less fortunate people to get back on their feet and find meaningful employment in the world.

After that we went back to the office to get some work done. Then I remembered that they were planning to shut the power off in the building in just a few minutes, so if we didn't get out soon, we would be taking the stairs down 38 floors in the dark. We high-tailed it out of there.

Things are never dull with Dad.

Basketball in the Big Gym

[Sep 3 2015]

To be sorted into a team in the appropriate division, Scott had two evaluation sessions, including one at the University of Calgary massive main gym. He had to write #99 on his leg and do a lot of drills. You know, aside from the parking lot of an LDS chapel or a screening of Napoleon Dynamite, basketball evaluations is one of the most likely places to encounter LDS people. I saw pretty much everyone I know there.

The second evaluation session was held at an elementary school. Kids were told what time slot to show up for, with the understanding that they might be asked to stick around for subsequent sessions. Scott was kept there for several sessions, which turned out to be quite a long time, so we hit Menchie's on the way home for a frozen treat.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Letter from Gramma W

I got this great letter from my Gramma Gloy and I wanted to post it here so that I don't lose it. She is such a wonderful lady and so funny. I love the line at the end: "Forgive all mistakes. I am old and feeble."

Harvest Half Marathon 2015

[Oct 3 2015]

When Troy and Gareth said they were going to run this half marathon I HAD to be a part of it. Even though we got soaked in a slushy rain the whole time. I didn't train that much this year, so I didn't have any misguided hopes about a personal best, but I beat Troy and that's all that really matters. Official time was 1 hour 37 minutes, which was good enough for 24th place out of 730 people and my 2nd best time to date.

Trick Riding in Bowness Park

[Oct 2 2015]

We met up with the Jones and Staples at Bowness Park for a picnic dinner. We knew that the forecast called for rain that evening, so we tried to hurry. Things were pretty good at first, and the kids had fun roasting hotdogs and doing bike tricks for while, until suddenly a wall of black clouds rolled in and blew every leaf off the trees, sending us all scrambling for cover. When we got home we had a thick layer of leaves in the bottom of our cooler, and several stuck in our clothing. Summer is officially over, people.

Sunday Afternoon Cycling

[Sep 20, 2015]

Now that R has a new bike AND a new helmet, it was only fitting that we go for a few family rides. There is a new pathway along the north end of town. It isn't totally finished, so we had to go off-road for a short section, through a spot that looked like someone's informal campground in the bushes. We have raised Katie's seat to help her get more leverage on the hills, and it has helped her quite a bit (although she was a bit uncertain about not being able to plant both feet flat on the ground while mounted).

High School 20th Reunion

[Sep 12 2015]

R and I both went to the same high school, but somehow we had never made it a high school reunion. We both disappeared from Calgary for most of a decade after high school, and we had lost track of most people from high school. We weren't sure what to expect, but it seemed like we shouldn't miss this chance to see everyone again.

I rushed back from our overnight camping trip at Barrier Lake to meet R at a Wendy's near Bowness Park, so we could grab a picnic lunch and so I could try to wash the smell of campfire off of me and change clothes. It was fun to catch up again. Many people had no idea that the two of us had gotten married. One of our classmates said hi to me and tried to introduce herself to R, and then felt silly when she found out that R had also gone to our school. I don't think it's fair though -- I look essentially identical to high school, but R has gone to great lengths to disguise her identity. In school he had long, straight blond hair and no glasses, but now she has curly reddish hair and wears glasses. Sometimes I don't even recognize her.

R went to school all the way from kindergarten to grade 12 with a group of a few really close friends, and most of them were there at the park and again at the evening pub event. She was right at home with all her good friends. I realized that I hardly have any friends in the whole world, and I spent most of my time chatting with people that I may not have ever had a conversation with in high school.

Trail Hunting at Twilight

Scott and I hurried outside for a bike ride before the sun could go down. In anticipation of our bike camp this weekend, he wanted to find a trail where he could try his off-road skills a bit. We ended up going 8km in 46 minutes. We rode down a muddy trail into the ravine, pushed our bikes back up another muddy trail, tried a washed out gravel trail along the ridge, but his favourite part was coasting down the grassy hill near his school. There was some complaining, but Scott didn't let it bother him too much.

Harvesting Crabapples

[Sep 8 2015]

Our Crabapple tree is weird.

One year, it will nearly collapse under the weight of the fruit, and then next year it won't have any at all. Is there a crabapple cycle that I don't know about? Or was there some nasty frost last year that killed the buds? Who knows? One thing is clear: we had a bumper crop of crabapples this year.

I strapped the kids' school bags on backwards and we set up some ladders to pick the fruit. It took us two evenings to harvest it all, and we filled several large Amazon shipping boxes with the crop. Scott loved to climb the step ladder, but he laughed his head off when he stayed at ground level and I threw apples into his bag from the top of the ladder. As always, Katie was a good-natured little worker, telling everyone what a good job they were doing and how much fun she was having. She gets a bit sad sometimes when Scott gets first turn at the ladder, but she doesn't let that sour her apples for long.

We got an apple corer this year and we prepped the apples to be steamed in our big stock pot and then stuck the steamed fruit in the blender to make applesauce and kept the juice that dripped down into the bottom to try to make jelly. The jelly seemed more like syrup, so decided to just keep the juice on subsequent batches. Now I have a fridge full of various jars of juice that no one is particularly excited about drinking. The applesauce was really good, but we ate all that for Sunday dinner one night. Now we may have to wait until 2017 to have some more.

Singing for Grandma M

[Sep 6 2015]

R's Grandma M loves nothing in the world more than music. After Sunday dinner, the grandkids (and even some great grandkids) gathered around the piano to sing for her and Grandpa. They are 94 years old this year, and their health has been particularly delicate, so it was a great experience to share something that makes her so happy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Labour Day at the Science Center

[Sep 7 2015]

Canada Day: "I Can't Be In Canmore"

[July 1, 2015]

We went to the Canada Day parade in Canmore this year with most of the Calgary family. The sidewalks were packed by the time we got there, but I found us a empty spot with curb access by crossing over to the other side of the street. We spread a blanket out in front of the curb for the kids and settled in for a great community parade against a beautiful rocky-mountain backdrop.

We soon figured out that the spot was still available because there was no shade on that side of the street and it was scorching hot. Fortunately, the firetruck went by and they sprayed everyone, and several floats were throwing freezies instead of candy. The parade lasted about an hour and as we were walking back across the street I looked at Scott asked R why his lips seemed so white. She said it must be from a candy he ate. Then Scott started to panic and tell me, "I can't see anything!" I could see he was about to black out so I grabbed him helped him sit down in the shade of the boardwalk. He was delirious: "I can't be here anymore! I can't be in Canmore anymore. I need to leave here." We got him a cold drink and gave him a chance to recover before loading him into Elijah's baby stroller and wheeling him back to the car.

The group then hiked up the creek to Quarry Lake for our picnic lunch. We took a detour to see a waterfall and Alli slipped on a rock on the other side of rapids and hurt her foot, so I put her on my back and climbed back across. Quite an eventful morning.

There were no medical emergencies to report at Quarry Lake. There was one incident of majestic mountain grandeur, but there were no injuries.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fancy Anniversary Dinner

We had already taken a trip to Mexico to celebrate our 15th anniversary a week early, so we didn't have big plans for the actual day. R started out thinking we might just spruce up the evening meal with some tropical drinks and a table cloth, but then Katie took over as event planner and took things up a notch. By the time I got home from work Katie had created a menu to go with her waitress apron, had clipped a pen to the strap, and had enlisted Scott as waiter #2 to help take our orders.

We had Corn Chowder, which is also known as "Katie's Favourite Soup", with choice of bread, bun or gluten free bun on the side. Available spreads were butter (margarine) or gluten-free butter (margarine from a smaller tub with no crumbs allowed in it). The waiters carefully carried the soup and the breads to the table without any spills. Drink options included Pinadas and water. Everyone selected the pinadas, served in fancy crystal goblets.

Afterwards, I told the kids to watch while I gave Mom a kiss. They said that was kind of gross. Katie asked why we would do that. I think she was asking why I would tell them to watch, but I told her "Because we are in love. Didn't you know that?" She said, "Of course. That's why you got MARRIED." She is right about that.

...but it's not gross. She's wrong about that part.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Katie Calling Back

Today Katie called me and said that she would like to go swimming on Friday or on Saturday. That was her first sentence. She didn't say "hello." She said that she would like to go to the other pool, not the Cardel Pool where she has her lessons. She would like to go to the pool in Cochrane. She was pretty close in how she pronounced Cochrane, but I could tell by the way she hesitated before saying "Cochrane" that she wasn't quite sure. She said that she would like to go there and swim without a life jacket, so that she could show me how much she has learned at swimming lessons. She said that I haven't seen her swim in a long time and she would like to go swimming there with me. I told her these all sounded like great ideas, and that we should definitely go. She was very pleased. she said good-bye and I told her to have a good day at school.

During the call I wondered if Mommy was aware of her plans or not. By the end of the call I was pretty certain that she was not. Katie makes her own plans, apparently.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

STP: Biking from Seattle to Portland in 1 Day

Last July my cousins invited me to join them to ride 340 km from Seattle to Portland in one day, among the other 10,000 people who participate in STP annually. Seattle is a long ways away and it seemed like it would have been difficult to swing it, so I didn't go. Then I saw all the evidence of their epic ride come streaming through Strava and Facebook and I was super jealous. My cousin Aimee had intended to do the whole ride in a single day, but it was so smoking hot that day that she ended up having to bed down at a hotel that night and finish the next day. My cousin Eric had gotten so dehydrated during the ride that he said he ate most of a watermelon and drank about a gallon of water at one stop. Anyways, Aimee said she was going back in 2015 to finish the job, so I said I would come, since I wouldn't miss something like this twice.

Back in January, when the ride was starting to sell out, I leaned on my cousin Charise to join in and we both signed up. Then my aunt Margo took the plunge and signed up, saying she was doing this to celebrate turning 60 years old. With 2 out of 4 siblings already in, plus Aimee's husband Aaron and me, and now his mom, Eric finally gave in and signed up. They are all part of a cycling club in Boise, Idaho, and the group grew to 25+ and it was shaping up to be a big party. Sadly, that's when Eric had the crash. It was only a few weeks before the event, so it seemed unlikely that his collarbone and ribs would heal up in time. Then on top of that his broken ribs caused all kids of problems and he had to go back to the hospital several times more for pneumonia and then to have more than a litre of goo drained out of his chest cavity. Instead of cheering us on from the support vehicles, he was in the hospital. But we were tracking our rides with Strava, which let him follow our progress online throughout the day. Afterwards, we all gave our reports via Facebook, which I have copied here, with some minor editing / condensing:

Ok, we need the reports from 2015 STP now :) My day included sitting in a hospital bed watching goo drain out of my chest tube. I also ate some licorice and watched the Tour de France. Very exciting and action packed.

You ate licorice? Lucky.

I wish my story had more drama. It hardly compares to the insanity of last year's bake - off.

The shuttle from the airport was really slow departing. That was tough, but I stuck it out with the help of a college kid from Pittsburg, who may still be waiting there.

Met up Friday afternoon at our Seattle hotel with my roomies Aimee and Aaron, and with Charise, Margo and Margo-BFF-Michele. The pit crew did wonders helping reassemble and polish my bike. We had a fab Italian dinner with a firm 7pm deadline because another reservation was coming in. Then Charise loaded me up with a HUGE stack of super - delicious - healthy snacks like quinoa carrot bars and mini salted potatoes. We bunked down just after 9pm to be ready for the morn.

Fitful sleep, maybe because of pre-game jitters. Before the 3:30 am alarm I had a dream that I woke up and started getting ready, but it was super weird. (MORE SOON - BOARDING PLANE)

(CONT'D) In this dream I was prepping everything normally, but then I noticed that the floor was totally soaked with water and my stuff was wet, and the water was getting worse. I was getting my phone out to take a picture of the windswept waves between the beds when I realized the water was coming from the bathroom, where Dream-Aaron had decided to take a long bath, but the majority of the water was spilling onto the floor. That was about the point where I woke up for real and realized I needed to get ready all over again. Real-Aaron did not take a bath this time around, so this one went better.

I was promised a hard-boiled egg but somehow that got missed, yet I soldiered on to the muster point in the parking lot. With the aid of a few headlamps, we finished pumping tires and prepping, before the team of 28 pedaled off through the dark a few short miles to the starting gate, near Husky Stadium at UW. (PLANE TAKING OFF)

(CONT'D) I had heard numerous horror stories about what a mess it would be to be on a mass start with so many riders of varying abilities on roads that were not closed to car traffic. In fact, this first part of the ride was fairly uneventful. We went over some cool bridges and along the waterfront there in Seattle near dawn, although the weather was so cloudy you wouldn't see the sun anyway.

It was nice and cool outside, which was much preferred by all those who had experience the hot weather the previous year. One downside to the weather is that I didn't sweat that much, so I had to hit the honeybucket every hour. In fact, if a food/water break lasted more than 20 minutes, I would already start feeling the need go again. (GOING TO BED)


Derek Wake up! Eric, I'm so glad you're home. I hope you can keep it that way!

Derek are you finished?? I'm riveted by your travelogue and I was there! Keep going!

Well I will just say that for this 60 year old girl who just last year said that she would never do such a thing, I am pretty dang happy that I changed my mind! Not that it was easy by ANY means...but it just proved to myself that you really can do more than you think you can...and more than others and your own mind tells you sometimes. It also verified to me the lesson that you absolutely never can give up...that even when you think there is totally nothing left in the tank, that really there is a reserve somewhere and if you "just keep swimming" you'll eventually get there. I had trained more for this than I had ever trained for anything so even though you always feel like you could have done more, I knew that I had put in the work so now it was time to see the benefits.
I absolutely LOVED the weather...perfect Margo weather (I think Aimee Denning Hauer is related to me)...60's and 70's. I didn't even mind the rain that dumped on us briefly. The first 50 miles were wonderful.....beautiful scenery...watching the sunrise....drafting off very large guys in front of me....moving at a fast clip and watching the miles tick off on my Garmin. We rode thru a very cool Army base and along a very long bike path so not much traffic. After Charise Denning McMullin had a flat (which she changed in record speed) we kind of naturally drifted into two groups....with sadly me, being the slowest denominator, regulated the speed. At about 115 miles I kind of hit a wall....not the kind you want to...but the kind that try as you might you can't ignore and you can't stop crying...the kind that you just cry more when others are so kind so they don't ask, but just let you cry. It was at that point that I thought "I don't want to quit...but everything hurts...I'll just keep riding until I can't ride anymore." ....thus the "just keep swimming" philosophy and where the reserve tank kicked in. I also knew though that the last 100 miles were going to be a lot tougher riding than the first 100 so that messed a little with my mind. But another law of riding is that with every hill climb up there is a DOWN...that's my reward! So when we hit the rollers that everyone had told me about, I told Derek and Charise (who were leading out front) to "kick it!" on the downhills so that we could go as fast as we could to make up time and help us up as far as we could on the next hill. Those blasts of speed were very good for my psyche!

By this time we had about 8-10 (which included Charise, Derek, me, Michele (my friend), Aimee, and Aaron) in our group with a few others from our team. There usually was a few others not from our team tagging on the back as well...I was never sure how many people were behind me. Derek got a a few lessons (whether he wanted them or not) from Charise as to how to lead a draft line...and he was REALLY good at it! Thanks Derek for the much needed help you gave me! It was kind of humorous to see others (men) see Charise out leading our little pack and feel that they needed to help her out and only last a few minutes before turning it back over to Charise. Speaking of that...I must tell you a little back story.
Way back in February when I was making my decision of whether I was really going to do this thing.....I called Charise and asked her if she would agree to stay with me. I knew this would be a sacrifice for her because she is such a competitive and good rider that to hold back would drive her crazy! But she agreed and kept her word...she was with me every pedal of the way...adjusting her speed so that I could make it. I also knew that Aimee would be doing STP again so she could reach her goal of doing it in one day. Then to top it off Eric succumbed to the pressure and signed up too. So I knew this was the year to do it....with 4 of my kids+spouse, my bff (Michele who has joined me on other crazy adventures and was with me when I turned 50 and did my first triathlon). Of course with having the horrible happen and Eric having to drop out, it also made it a bittersweet experience, thinking of him all day...knowing that he was tracking us from his hospital bed...and him giving us encouraging texts. Derek lived up to his agreement that at every railroad crossing he would yell out "FOR ERIC!". That also became the hashtag of the day! And how could you go wrong with a sweet husband and 3 adorable grandchildren (Izzie, Elliott, & Abby) yelling you on!
So after I got it back together things went a LOT better. I got over the rollers and pretty much just set in my mind to just go the next distance until the next rest stop. Then I'd just do it again...and again. When I hit 160 that was a big moment because in my mind pre race, I thought that it would be cool to at least do 160 (for me turning 60), but when I actually did it then I thought well heck I've only got 40 to go so let's DO THIS!! When we were entering Portland the adrenaline started to take over. We had one more bridge to cross coming into the city and there was a bit of a hill before it...which I climbed in my slow speed by myself so as not to back people up on the when I crossed the bridge by myself and looked at the city I was a little in awe because it was so beautiful with the sunset. I was the only one on the bridge and it was a moment that I don't think I'll ever of those snapshots in your mind kind of moments.

Then we regrouped on the other side of the bridge and put the pedal to the metal because we needed to make it across the finish line by 9:00 pm and we were running it close. After all this there was NO WAY that we weren't going to get our one day patches! So with lots of red lights and dodging of cars and people we started to get close. At the last red light before the finish line, everyone said that I needed to be in the front to lead us across the line....dang another teary moment...and that's what I did! It was like running a paparazzi tunnel!

There were people lined up on both sides of where we rode in with cameras flashing, people yelling and cheering and high fives all over the place. When I'm 80 and trying to race my wheelchair I will never forget that welcome! Of course after that there were lots more tears and hugs all around. Thanks to all who helped me accomplish something that I never thought I'd even try! (sorry it was so long :)


It's all a bit surreal... I just rode STP in ONE day.. What the what?? Is this for real? I've been pushing for that one day for two years. I was a wee bit heart broken last year when I stopped at 141.

This year I never let the thought of me NOT finishing enter my head... My gf (we were planning on staying Saturday night with) asked me where we were planning on staying if we didn't finish. It almost took my breath away.. NOT finish in one day?? Uhhh that's not happening. I will drag my almost dead body across that line no matter what! Dang it. It's happening!!

I was like Derek... Very fitful sleep.. Minus the dream about the hotel filling with water from Aaron's bath. ;). I was up a lot in the night. Got up twice to potty (sorry tmi). Woke a good 40 min before alarm went off and just laid there waiting for it to go off. Woke and started stuffing my face so the food could settle a little bit before getting on the saddle. Went downstairs and joined the rest of the team. So cool to see all 28 of those Team Reel riders in the parking lot ready to go. Even cooler to see my mom, twin, husband and cousin. Seriously was soooo jazzed to get on my bike at this point and get this party started. I had the biggest smile and I kept thinking over and over "this is really happening!! We're doing this!!" Headed to U-dub husky stadium to the start line. Then it was time to roll.

There was lots of smiles and good times were being had those first few miles. Rolling down the road. Making good time. No issues. Feeling goooooooooood. Then I hit that 100 mile mark and it was my wall. It reared its ugly head. I was waiting in the longest line ever to use the honey bucket and I couldn't get out of my head. So much doubt. I was by myself and tears where starting to fall when I heard my name screamed. I looked up and it was Charise's daughter Abby! She jumped on me and gave me the biggest hug. Then dad was there and he gave me a big hug and told me I could do it! I was back! YEEES. I CAN DO THIS. Got some more love from my cheerleaders Izzie and Elliott and we hit the road. "Hey guys.. Wanna go ride another century ride??" Let's do this!!

Sporadically from mile 140ish till 13 miles before the finish dad, Leah, Abby, Izzie and Elliott would be on the side of the road cheering for the whole team (thanks to my MIL Leah for bringing izz and Eman along the way) Game changer for me and would bring me to tears of happiness. Pumped me up big time!

Mile 172 to 208 was sooooooo freaking painful. Like give birth to a baby painful. I got a new seat a month before the ride and I should have gotten properly fitted because it felt like I had knives in my wrists and pads of my hands. I was just watching the miles sloooooooooowly tic by. Longest 36 miles of my life. The food at mile was 172 was hands down the best of the day... Cooooold watermelon and grapes. Turkey wraps and chocolate chip cookies?? Umm yes please. Get in my belly!!

The bridge towards the end in Portland was ridiculously gorgeous. Jaw dropping pretty. The sky filled with pinks and purples! Gorgeous. Wish you all could have seen it. Wanted to bust out my phone and take a pic but i was too much in awe of its awesomeness.

Crossing the finish line hands down the best moment of the day! I got to watch my mama and twin sister cross the line in front of me!!! WE DID IT. I remember last September when mom and dad came to visit. We were eating lunch and talking about big scary goals. I mentioned STP and how rad it would be for her to do it for her 60th. I could see the wheels turning... Wait a second.. Was this really a possibility??? She *might* pull the trigger?! I pushed a little more and told her I 150% believed she could do this. I remember her tearing up... Fast fwd to Saturday.. Seeing her get back on her bike. Just kept swimming. Her crossing that big scary finish line in front of me?? I don't have words for how proud I am of my incredible mama. She AMAZES me.

I gotta say... Having Derek there... SCREAMING.. "FOR ERRRRRRIC" every time we crossed railroad tracks and seeing those Canadian twizzlers hanging out of his jersey pocket the whole time... Beyond epic.

Another awe inspiring moment(s) was seeing my sister smile THE ENTIRE TIME. That women is a tank and nothing can stop her. Cycling behind her as she put her hand on my mom's back as they climbed rollers together at the end... She never left my moms side. I wanna be like her when I grow up. You're a beautiful beast twin.

My friend Steph in Boise messaged me saying how in awe she was that she woke up that morning and I was already on my bike.. And she was laying in bed about to go to sleep and I had just crossed the finish line. Really hit home when she said that how long we had been riding!!

So there you have my rambling thoughts... Haha. All and all a killer ride. So stoked to do it with so much family.

Awesome Aimee and Margo! I loved every single word! Absolutely inspiring! The part about Charise putting her hand on Margo's back made me teary and the part about Derek's war cry for Eric made me smile! What a great experience! Thanks for sharing it! Ok, Charise and Aaron let's hear your take. And Derek, you need write your last installment too.

Wow, see everyone else can write it better than me. smile emoticon Great tributes Margo and Aimee. That's a new one I haven't been called Aimee...a beautiful beast. Haha. It was a fun day and I was ecstatic that it was overcast and cool. So much better than last year! I mentally prepped that I was getting my Mom across the finish line no matter what. We had a great pace line for the first 60 miles or so and then broke into 2 groups where we all worked together to finish together. I felt like a slave driver at all the stops to get everyone to use the honey buckets pronto, eat and get back on the road. I knew the time constraint and had to keep us on track. The highlights were wheeling in on the Air Force base...the best and smoothest roads with no traffic, riding with an awesome cousin (licorice carrier) who could hammer anything at a seconds notice, and finishing with 2 minutes to spare with tears of joy for Aimee, my Mom, and bff Michele to complete such a tough goal. I also impressed myself with throwing my chain back on after it came off, all while riding. Skillz I tell ya! A great ride and one of a first that I didn't have total butterflies before. That was nice. I prepped a lot of food that everyone ate on throughout the ride that gave me warm fuzzies knowing they were all well nourished. I know I'm forgetting some things but that was my take. Great job everyone!

Charise is always feeding and taking care of her people! Her food....mmmmmm. Who knew salted mini potatoes were so dang good cycling?? That Banana bread? Mmmm Quinoa carrot bars.. nomnomnom. AND those muffins? Get in my belly!!

(CONT'D - sorry for delay) So, I can't really tell you how I felt at such-and-such mileage because I have no idea about the distances or the places or anything. I use my phone as my bike computer and I had the screen off to preserve battery so I had zero clue how fast we were going, how far we had gone, or where we were. Place names meant nothing to me. Even the distances people talked about meant little because they were all speaking in miles and I cycle in metric. I would just look at my watch occasionally, knowing that I shouldn't expect to arrive anywhere until nightfall. I would just ride for an hour or more, stop when they told me to stop, hit the honeybucket, eat a bunch of quinoa bars, slam a bottle of water, then fall back in line. Repeat that like 12 times (except for the time that I got a cheeseburger from a girls volleyball fundraiser BBQ and ate that just to shock Charise).

I really liked riding in the draft line with the big group, watching how it works. I mostly ride solo or with 1 or 2 other guys, so that was new and sort of inspiring. I got my turn at the front of the line and promptly screwed it up. Someone behind said "let's pick it up a bit" and I obliged. Apparently, you are supposed to pick it up slowly. I looked over my shoulder and found myself alone ahead of the group. Rookie. Even with my race-tight Team Reel jersey I wasn't fooling anyone. I think I was a dead giveaway, what with my unshaven legs and my seat that was set too low, etc.

My plan had been to hang with Team Margo and help pull along, but Charise doesn't need to draft behind anyone pretty much ever. Witnessing how she physically put her hand on Margo's back and PUSHED her up the hill was proof of that (I almost got a picture of that -- too slow on the draw). Plus, I didn't know how fast I was going, so I whenever I did get out front to pull, I would slowly drift away too quickly and then slow down too much. Total rookie. I finally determined that I would just sit right behind Charise and create as large a draft as possible for Margo to sit in. That seemed to work pretty well.

I don't know what mile it was, but there was this big hill just before halfway and that's where Charise pushed Margo up and then Margo cried at the top and I heard her say that she just needed to get it out. I think that's where she said she had her darkest moment. I think I did too. You see, Charise found this really big pickle at a food stand at the top of the hill and gave it to Margo to help her get her energy back, but Margo had just been eating a honey-energy-gel so the sudden pickle taste was super gross and made her clench her fists down tight and shake back and forth with this puckered expression. Man, tears or none, that was the funniest thing I saw all day. Because I was laughing at her (and posting a pic of it to Instagram), she told me to try it. I said that I NEVER eat Pickles but we were all in this together so I grabbed it and took a huge bite. That was my darkest moment, I think.

Seriously though, the furthest I had ever ridden before was like 110 km (maybe 70 miles?), and all this was new territory for me. My mind and my body were like, "hey, we've been at this for a long time - we should be done now, right?" I said as much to Margo and she narrowed her eyes and said, "Don't you dare give me any ideas." She was pretty determined.

So we just hopped on our bikes and we kept churning out the miles. My derriere was sore after 100 miles, so I got a bit squirrelly on the seat for the 2nd 100 miles. My big toes went numb on both feet at some point from the constant pressure, but other than that, my steady stream of food and water (and whatever those pills were that Charise gave me at lunch) kept me feeling strong all day.

It was really cool to be there and see everyone make to the finish together. To see Aimee conquer this personal summit was awesome. A bunch of Team Reel people said I reminded them a bit of Eric, being the same size and having my white bike and white helmet. Maybe it was the Twizzlers hanging out my jersey pocket too, which were sort of a tribute to Eric. It was sad he couldn't be there, but his constant stream of online comments and texts let us know he was at the command center, keeping tabs on our progress along the way.


Oh man, I am laughing so hard at your darkest hour. Hilarious!! Had to be there.
Oh and now everyone knows I'm a drug dealer.
Loved your take on things D!!

This STP was so rewarding and incredible. I have so many thoughts running in my head and no real way to express them all properly....but I'll still try smile emoticon First of all, I can not tell you in words how proud I am of my beautiful wife Aimee Denning Hauer! Your determination is incredible! I remember last year when you raised your fist at the finish was awesome and a tremendous accomplishment. This year to witness you complete the ride in one day with your mom, sister, cousin and friends is simply amazeballz.

Very cool. Aaron, you and Aimee make a great team. What an amazing memory to have together.

Oops I hit post before I was done...I feel so lucky to have such an awesome family. My mind is seriously going in happy circles trying to express all the positivity, love, and determination I saw. From Charise putting her hand on her mom's back, to Derek living up to his promise, "for Eric!" Margo you are an amazing person! Who sets a goal of a double century for their 30th birthday???? Apparently you! (Yes I still want a pony ) It was so great to have my mom, Bob, Abby, Izzie, and Elliott along the way. Seeing the decorated cars, cheering and love really motivated us and kept us focused on the prize. It was an emotional and exciting moment to cross the finish line. My heart and soul are so fulfilled and happy to see Aimee complete this challenging goal. At one time people put her down and laughed at her when she said she's doing a 200 plus mile ride. Well who's laughing now? Me in joy that we did it!!!! I you beautiful!! It was so awesome to see all our friends and family at the finish line!! I am missing so many details....I simply wish to express what an incredible journey this was with incredible people.

Aaron is such an awesome guy. Other than the dreamy bit where he flooded the hotel room, this guy was always out there cheering somebody on or helping somebody out. He was right there for Aimee every inch of the journey. The only times I looked back to see Aimee riding without Aaron, it was because he had dropped back to go make sure someone else was doing okay and keeping up. One of my favorite moments in the whole ride was right near the end when he and I were waiting at a street corner in Portland to see if one of our team riders was coming in from the big bridge. When we figured out he had a flat farther away and the van was coming for him, we rushed off to catch the group. The two of us were just hammering through the empty streets of Portland, flying along. It was awesome because we were almost done, we still had it in us to sprint and it was a beautiful evening. You're the man, Aaron.