i’m actually not a real cyclist, Todd.

i rode my bike to Jackson. i always wondered about it. and now i know. i loved all the parts i thought i would love. and hated riding in the shoulder through the park as much as i thought i would hate it.

that day i rode past white tailed deer and mule deer, elk and pronghorn antelope, bison and moose, beer cans and tossed out diapers.

it took a while. it always takes me a while. but i got there.

when the going-got-tough, it was easy peasy to remind myself that i was riding, in slow-motion, across the foot of the Tetons. and that was enough to elevate my mood.

Cza Cza’s gift and contribution to the early years of parenthood was swinging by the cabin, opening the fridge, cracking two cold beers, preparing a scrumptious platter, and sitting down to chat. Although it did occur for a necessary yoga class here or there, she was reticent to care for the peeps alone. Joe had to be on deck. On the occasion i had to ask for a extended-time sitter….her response was “sweeten the pot” until it was worth her while and to make sure there was plenty of back-up to check in throughout the day.

the times have a-changed. in all of 2016, Deep Woods and i have spent 3 moments together without our children. We snowboarded together in Jackson at the Village, we cross country skied together in February on the Sublette Trail, and we had dinner together on Saturday with Mungbean and Barry in Jackson. Czas had the peeps 2 out of 3 of those times! (the third we sent them to daycare).  She did mention the peeps were “more interesting” now. i get it. anything before 2 is tough stuff. especially when there are two of them to contend with…and one who did not communicate much above a squawk and a tight hug.

when Crit learned we were all having a sleepover at Joe and Cza’s place she squealed. partially because she would then be even with Squawk who had a sleepover back in January, but mostly because she ADORES Czas and has quite the crush on Joe. she was pretty certain there would be nail polish involved and animal petting and viewing…although she probably didn’t forsee the nighttime book reading of the Georgia O’Keefe coffee table book and a comic book about being chinese in america…

DW and i will have some time alone in less than a month. when he flies into Calgary right behind me to see me off on my adventure. i’m looking forward to those 36 hours immensely. we do a decent job of giving each other time alone, away from the chaos…but we are terrible at securing time together, away…

Team Neidens loved our retreat to JHole. we enjoyed Sunday morning at the pace of leisure and comfort. we split up to tackle town errands and met up for lunch. we watched the racers run through town and we headed east. the peeps, on their own accord, wanted to go for a hike in “Grand Tetional”.  so we did. the weather was wet and heavy…so we had all of String Lake to ourselves and it was a hoot. for rizzle. there was lots of running and diving into the bushes. snowballs in the face, ambushes, sneak attacks, songs, and side-splitting laughter. best time we’ve had together in a long time. we all left rather pleased. and then we saw a black bear. which was also cool.

Haven’t been on the bike since Saturday. whatevs. i’ve been productive in all the other aspects of life that is still happening.

About 5 miles out of Jackson on Saturday, the peeps caught up to me and pulled over for some hugs. there was a fella lurking about. he swooped in as soon as DW shut his truck door. he was interested in what i had going on. he knew i was training for the TDR. he wants to ride it some day too. he was decked out in a full-on cycle costume. he knew this and that person who have records in the race. he knew all the technical gear. he quizzed me on some burly sections to see if i was studying the maps. we rode together in the rain for the final 5 miles of my trip. as we rode into the congestion of town, i looked over at him and said “Todd, I’m not actually a cyclist.” He didn’t blink, just said “You’re going to be fine. Just don’t quit. Don’t quit. This is your once-in-a-lifetime.”





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