A little while after Karel came to the US, Karel started working for Gearlink. Gearlink (which is no longer operating) was an online high-end cycling company. Although the majority of the business was online, the local Tampa bay riders and Gearlink cycling team members would come in the store for Karel to do his magic on their bikes.
Karel took some time off the bike when he came to the US and after a few rides with the Suncoast cycling group, Karel was introduced to the Gearlink cycling group/team.
To make a long story short, Karel and I met because of the Gearlink cycling team.
As I was training for IMFL, I was told from one of my training friends that I should meet this really fast cyclist, who is super nice and has a great accent. I wasn't sure if I ready for a relationship with all my IM training taking up my life, as well as being the wellness coordinator of the North Pinellas YMCA, but I was all about having a new friend....with a great accent :)
My friend thought that it would be good for Karel and I to meet on the Wed night ride. I had heard about this ride and with my fear of bikes in 2006 (Yes, even with training for an IM) I was super scared to do this group ride. The ride is about an hour long (not including a warm-up and warm-down) and averages around 25-28mph. The tricky part about this ride is that it is a 3-mile loop in a neighborhood, with 3 fast, right turns with every loop. After 5-6 loops, the ride ends with 1 final loop and a sprint finish. If you have the strength (and skills) you rotate with the group but for everyone else that just wants to join the 30-40 person ride, you just hope to hang on a wheel in the back. There are two ladies on the ride and the rest of the riders are guys. The two ladies are great friends of mine and my match makers :)
I was so scared of this ride that I stood up meeting Karel for 2 weeks in a row. Poor Karel, he would put on his nicest bibs and clean himself up just to meet me at the ride and I was a no show. Finally, on May 31st, 2006 (my b-day) I decided to join the 6:30pm wed night ride. I had a quick meet and greet with Karel before the ride started and I barely made the warm-up. I was hurting so bad from the 18-20 mph warm-up and tried to hold back my tears from not being able to hang on. I ended up riding with another girl as the group did the ride. Karel and I were able to talk a bit more (although he was super shy and all I had to talk about was me training for my first IM) at the Varsity Club, which is a sport bar across the street from the neighborhood where we did the Wed night ride.
Well, you know how the story turns out...Karel continued to do the ride, I continued to suffer (hoping to make it a 1/2 mile longer than the previous week) and the gearlinkers continued to see our relationship evolve. Well, I after a year of dating, we moved in, got engaged, moved to Jax, , got a dog, got married and now, enjoying life.
We had an absolute blast last night on the ride. Karel won the final sprint, I survived the whole ride and rotated for most of the ride. I worked on my turns, Karel gave me great advice and we were able to hang out with a wonderful group of people. Just to prove how wonderful this group is to us, we gave the team less than a day's notice that we were coming in town and at the end of the ride we had a group ready to take us out to the Varsity Club, just like old times. Our wedding was one big cycling party and we wouldn't have wanted it any other way. We are so lucky to have these people in our lives and I'm sure you can agree, it is a great feeling to have people in your life who enjoy the activities that you enjoy. There are so many people out there who struggle to make it to the gym for a 30 minute workout yet when you have a friends to train with, it doesn't even seem like a workout...it is just fun times together with a good sweat.
As Karel and I approach our 1 year wedding anniversary at the end of this month we couldn't be more thankful for the happiness that others have given to us over the past few years.
One of my matchmakers
What a life Campy...what a life.