I can date a special friendship with four wonderful people to a dinner in St. Florent, Corsica in September 2012. Kathy. Tom. Malcolm and Michelle. We were about halfway through Mark and I's first cycling tour. I had been super shy during the first week of the tour. It was my first cycling trip in my very first season as a cyclist. I didn't want the others to know it was my first season or that I have ten children. Back then, having only been out for a couple of years, I was extremely uncomfortable with having to explain how a gay man could have ten children. What I found, however, is that the people on the tour were very nonjudgemental and welcoming.
|Cycling up to the Col du Galibier in the French Alps in 2012|
|Cycling bibs can hold a bottle of gin in an emergency: Solenzara, Corsica|
We had of course seen and had a little interaction with Kathy, Malcolm and Michelle and Tom, but it was dinner that night in St. Florent that we were all seated together at a table and our friendship began. After that, we hung out together, rode together, and ate together - sometimes in rather trying circumstances.
|Cycling up to the Col de la Croix de Fer, August 2014. What an amazing day!|
|Mark, Tom and Michelle playing boules at our hotel high in the Vercors.|
Our friendship was renewed and strengthened last year when we all met again - almost 18 months after Marks' diagnosis - on a cycling tour from Geneva to Nice. More long days on the road. More fun times in the evenings over dinner and drinks. Special moments. We made new friends, and we were happy to visit Malcolm and Michelle and these new friends in Anacortes, Washington at Thanksgiving time.
|Our second ascent up Mont Ventoux. It was such an incredibly beautiful day.|
|Without us knowing it at the time, this turned out to be our last big descent in Europe, near Gourdon, France in September 2014|
We were excited to all go on yet another tour, another adventure - this time in Tuscany and Umbria, Italy. Mark and I got a good start on our cycling season given Salt Lake's moderate winter. Tom came out from the East Coast in early April to see us and do some cycling together. Mark and I took our bikes to Maui in May and got more cycling in. In June, however, it was starting to become apparent that Mark might not be able to do the tour. He was experiencing more pain and less energy. By July, we knew we had to cancel the tour.
Though we wouldn't be able to cycle with our friends, we were, however, able to meet up with them in Rome last week. On Thursday afternoon, Kathy, Malcolm and Michelle (the latter having re-arranged their travel plans in order to see us) went on a tour of the Vatican together, then had a marvelous dinner that evening.
|Waiting outside the Vatican museum.|
|Malcolm, Kathy, me, Mark and Michelle, just before heading into the Sistine Chapel.|