Christmas Party 2017

Written by Patrick Stelte - December 2017

el presidente

As president of Three Rivers Velo Sport, I am responsible for the end of year club party. In my seven years as host, the party has transformed from a small gathering in Aldersgate’s Church basement with food, music, pictures and conversation to the largest club member gathering in one place that I can remember. This year, 135 attendees packed Sweetwater Sound’s conference hall to eat catered food, listen to music, and look at pictures and videos before the main events of the evening: keynote speakers and awards. An added inducement that pushed the crowd attendance was the arrival of our 50th Anniversary Jersey for payment and pick up. Amy Copeland, Mona Will, Scott Tomsits and Jennifer Altherr worked non-stop at the door with membership renewals and jersey kit orders from door opening to dinner call and beyond.

Holiday decorations by Sweetwater added to the festive atmosphere. Ziano’s food was on the menu and Event Coordinator Meghan Short, her staff and club volunteers had their hands full prepping the food outlay. It only took me an hour to discern that Ziano’s was a good choice as all the food was gone - a party rarity. I am also sure there were a number of people doing calorie count math in their heads and calculating how much time to spend on the trainer when eyeing desserts brought by club members (a party tradition) to finish off a stimulated palate before the keynote speakers.

The after-dinner agenda began with Cathie Rowand and Kathi Weiss talking about their many bicycle vacation adventures over the past twenty years. They recounted favorite tours in Wisconsin, the Midwest and New England. Kathi Weiss, a 3RVS club member back in the 1970s, responding to an audience question of favorite places to cycle, mentioned London and Amsterdam as the most cycle-friendly on her travels. Pictures added to the presentation, but the banter and dry humor between the two kept everyone entertained.

My co-master of ceremonies, Steve Pequignot, kicked off the awards’ portion of the evening with the September Strava Challenge medal and podium winners. 3RVS had a record number of medal winners as the 4th September Challenge has become very popular. On a somber note, Steve gave special recognition to Shawn Ambrose, a club member who died while cycling a 100 mile touring event in September. Before Shawn passed, he had eclipsed 500 kilometers on that ride, making him a medal winner for the Challenge. At the party, his wife and daughter received Shawn’s award.

Next, Steve was honored along with Kathy Boling as Indiana State National Bike Challenge winners. This was Steve’s third year in a row as top male cyclist in the state. 3RVS also honored ride leaders for their volunteer service and dedication that makes a bike club a ride club. For the second year in a row, Steve handed out “A” wing awards to club members who participated in his weekly skills tour. This teaching ride challenged “B” riders to step up their effort and become “A” riders. Anyone who stayed in the group, shared in the pulls and finished with an average over 20.0 mph, received their “A” wings medal at the party.

The last three awards of the evening honored outstanding volunteerism and critical response to a crisis. Steve Souers was awarded the Outstanding Volunteer Award for his many years serving the club and its members in many capacities that transcend the definition of partake and travel to the depths of leadership. Steve is a fine representation of 3RVS and stands shoulder to shoulder with past honorees. Next, a unique honor, Inspirational Leadership Award, was bestowed on Mona Will for her touchstone presence to club members new and old. She received a frame poster of the Periodic Table of Cycling as a representation of her reach within in the club.

Finally, a special Humanitarian Award was given to David Park for saving the life of fellow club member Bill Lambert. The two were riding together last August when Bill went into cardiac arrest. David performed CPR for 15 minutes until EMS arrived. David’s efforts saved Bill’s life. Bill has recovered 100 % and joined David on stage to a standing ovation from the crowd.

2017 has been a year to remember. The ebb and flow of cycling season begets weekly memories that last a little or a lifetime. This year, memories were taxed with tragedy as a few cyclists in our tight-knit community were befallen by accidents and life-threating injuries. There is nothing more sober that hearing or reading of a compatriot’s distress. We all share thoughts of well-being for others. There is nothing more important than health and family.

As the evening ended and I gave my final thoughts to the packed room at Sweetwater I felt a pause of introspection that I could not verbalize to the crowd in quick manner. Now, with time to reflect, it goes something like this: Since I joined the club, I have changed for the better. The new relationships I have forged and the countless adventures and camaraderie have made my life richer for the experience. Looking over the crowd, I knew they felt the same way.

To view pictures of the party: