The plan was for us to race up Whiteface with three of our friends and a couple of hundred strangers and be married at the top by my father, a deacon in the Episcopal church. We had been leaning toward plan B (getting married back at the house) for a couple of days, as the weather reports were not favorable, especially for the top. But, the morning of June 18th was clear and warm, and while we knew by evening it would be windy and much chillier we decided to proceed. We got on our spandex, I added some wedding flair and we headed out to ride the 10 miles to Whiteface.
My family packed into cars to head up the mountain ahead of us. Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Bob, cousins Ann Carol, Johnny, Sean and Courtney were in the lead van, followed by my brother and his family, our kids and my parents. As we waited for the first wave to go off at the bottom, the plans were again in peril. The caravan was stopped half way up at the toll house. First, they were told no cars were allowed up the mountain. There must have been some miscommunication with the race director which was resolved. But then, as my parent's car approached to pay, the toll woman leaned into the car, eying my father in his collar, and asked why they were going up. My 80 year old mother, wrapped in her Irish wool shawl beamed and replied, "My daughter is getting married! We're having a wedding!" The woman frowned and shaking her head, hissed, "There will be no wedding." My parents stared at her blankly as she repeated this several times, with increasing fervor. Wisely, my parents said nothing, paid the toll and continued up with complete faith that there would, indeed, be a wedding.
Meg and I went off first. The incline was steady and steep, but the views were magnificent. I tried to keep a steady power that I thought I could maintain for an hour or so. Many of the women blasted ahead, but more of them dropped behind, and Meg was right in front of me. It was difficult and somewhat painful, but it was also very fun, mainly because my sash and veil prompted so many smiles from the spectators and well wishes and shouts of congratulations from my fellow racers. We got to the top together- 8 miles at 8%- in 1:11, which gave Meg a 3rd place finish in her age group and me a 9th place finish. The fastest man did it in 49min and the fastest woman, who was in my age group, did it in 50min. Victor did it in 1:00, Nick 1:09 and John in just 58min. I felt good at the end and had enough in the tank for a finishing sprint, so I was pleased.
We changed our clothes quickly and gathered in a little circle on the grass near the castle. Many people looked on, but nobody tried to stop us. With the sun and wind upon us, my father performed the ceremony, my mother and aunt did some readings, my daughter and his son gave the rings to be blessed and everyone cheered at the kiss when he pronounced us husband and wife. It was done. There was a wedding, and the party began, or more accurately, continued...