By Mary McDaniel
We’d heard rumors going around at the OK Free- Wheel camp the day before that some of the guys were taking bets on who’d actually call it off before the big ceremony on 6/9/09. One guy said he was betting it would be the bride. He just didn’t realize at the time that he was talking to the groom to be. The pre-wedding night outing in Cordell would include me, Kurt & my little sister, Amy, watching the movie, “The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”, which at the time seemed a fitting title for such an occasion. That spurred the comment from many, “Just say the word and I can get you out of this.” I was even called the “Ride-Away Bride” that morning as we departed camp on our bikes. But wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to 4/2/06 and a weekend tour that was called the “Tour of the Ring” (www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=3Tzut&doc_id=3056&v=2P).
While breaking camp that morning on one of our first self-contained tours together, I failed to notice a little white box sitting on the table, amongst the other breakfast & camping items. Kurt had to point it out to me in a round-a-bout way before I even realized it was there. The proposal came shortly afterward, followed by a resounding, “yes”. Little did we know at the time that the “big day” wouldn’t actually come around for another 3 years.
Six months before the big event the planning had already commenced. It had to be bike related, but where? I (Mary) was not interested at all in a Vegas wedding, although Kurt did try his best to influence me in that direction. That option eliminated, we entertained the idea of doing it on OK Free- Wheel. One obstacle arose. We wouldn’t even know the route for a few more months, and that made choosing the location impossible. So we waited until the route was announced, and the planning really stepped into high gear. Ideally, we wanted all of the FreeWheelers to be included in the wedding, so a location with a football field would have been perfect. Unfortunately, that didn’t look like it was going to work out. Kurt had done essentially the same route on FreeWheel five years prior, and remembered Cheyenne being a perfect little town. He particularly remembered how friendly and helpful the folks of that town were. And there were several sight-seeing locales that friends & family coming from out of town could enjoy.
We called the city and found out the name of a contact that could help us with all of the arrangements. Her name was Judy Tracy. After just one phone call, she was emailing us with digital photos of the chapel from every possible angle, and giving us all the necessary information. She even volunteered to arrange for singers if we wanted and a sound system. Furthermore, she said we could hold our reception in the museum just next door to the chapel. The foundation was laid, and the remaining details were eventually completed. We would invite close friends and family members to the Croton Creek Guest Ranch for dinner before the ceremony.
We both agreed that we wanted to ride all week, despite the wedding. We decided to ride our single bikes each leading up to the wedding, then ride our tandem bike for the remaining part of the week. One other really fun aspect of the wedding was the fact that it fell on “Crazy Day,” which is when the riders dress up in crazy-wear & attempt to win a $5.00 gift card to Braums for having the craziest outfit. Kurt ordered a “tuxedo” bicycle jersey & I put something together that resembled a bicycle version of wedding attire. We arose early that day & rode 66 miles in 95 degree temps & over many (not mini) hills before reaching Cheyenne at around 12:30 pm that afternoon. We’d become concerned about making it to Cheyenne in time at one point when we realized that every time we stopped we were bombarded by at least 5-10 cyclists requesting to take our picture. After a quick bite to eat, thanks to my brother who was meeting us with a car full of necessary wedding items, it was off to our chateau at Croton Creek to get ready for the evening.
After dinner with our family and friends, we moved to the little chapel. Kurt had prepared a slide show of childhood and biking/hiking photos (together with bicycle music of course!) to play before the wedding. Kurt walked in to the chapel with his single bike & passed it to his best man/brother, Dean. Then I walked down the isle with my single bike & passed it to my bridesmaid/niece, Britnee. Our tandem was set up behind the minister in the front of the chapel. The minister performing the ceremony was also a cyclist that we’d met on Free- Wheel 2008, the Rev. Amy Venable from St. Stephens United Methodist Church in Norman. She was also riding FreeWheel this year.
After the ceremony we walked down the isle with our tandem, mounted it, and rode around camp to cheering FreeWheelers. We had a bicycle topped wedding cake afterward, with complimentary Gatorade, that we shared with any FreeWheeler that wanted to come by the museum.
We’ve now completed the entire ride across the state, and it will be one that we will of course never forget! The media seemed to think our idea of the perfect wedding was unique, as we were interviewed &/or photographed by two different newspapers and a television station. Oh, and be sure to ask Kurt for a look at his bicycle inspired wedding ring next time you see him.