A good test for any relationship, as the romance novels will let you know, is a long separation. Teri and I got our chance when I ran off to Iowa for two weeks in July 2009. The occasion? RAGBRAI, the biggest bicycle ride in America. My friend, Bill, who will also be an usher in my wedding, suggested the trip, and I couldn't say no. It involved riding from west to east across Iowa with 20,000 of my new close, personal friends. Bike riders of all ages, shapes, sizes, colors, religious preferences headed out each day for rides of from 46 to 77 miles as we crossed a corn-intensive bit of paradise. Each evening from my tent I would call Teri on my cell phone and give her an update on our progress and find out about her day. It was sweet. I remember one night in particular. It was raining cats and pigs, and I felt like I was soaked to the soul. I had lost my neurogenic bladder kit out of the back pack on my bicycle due to not shutting the lid properly, and had had to make an emergency dash for a drug store to resupply. Part of the challenge was to see how I could do this ride and not exacerbate symptoms of neurogenic bladder, so the ride was a special challenge for me. I needed my sweetie's encouragement, especially now, in the cold and wet, as the rain continued to pour down outside. And she was there for me.
I missed Teri a lot, during the ride. But it was a good test to see if our relationship could endure more than just our normal weekly separation at our homes 90 miles apart. The answer was a resounding yes.
Maybe someday I will get Teri to ride a big adventure trip with me. Maybe not. Either way, we are happy in encouraging each other to pursue our dreams. We are close together in our hearts whether we are in the same room or 1,500 miles apart but under the same moon.