• A His-and-Her Love Story

    A His-and-Her Love Story

    Of Two Bicycles, One Waterfall and the Heimlich Maneuver.


Shawn’s view: When I set out to do a six-day bicycle fundraising tour back in 2003, I was relatively inexperienced with biking and bike culture. I was immediately drawn to a really cute and very approachable woman riding a Giant hybrid. Her name was Alli, and she always had a bandana wrapped over her head under her helmet. We hit it off and ended up dating the next 10 years of our lives until I proposed in 2013.

For our engagement, I planned the perfect day! We went for a 40-mile bike ride through a national forest in Wisconsin, and then we hiked to Morgan Falls, where I tried to get Alli to hike up into a pool in the waterfall. She was too scared and refused to go that high, so I had to propose at the base of the waterfall instead. Of course, we were a sweaty mess from the bike and hike, so it was the epitome of romantic. After the unsurprising waterfall proposal (turns out Alli knew about it the whole time), we hiked up further and took some great engagement ring photos over an amazing vista of Lake Superior.

A funny thing happened at our rehearsal party. Well, it’s funny now, not so much at the time. I don’t really know what happened, but all of a sudden my sister, Stephanie, was yelling at me “Shawn, your bride is choking!” I looked across the yard to see our friend, Erik, picking Alli up and thrusting her to the ground with the Heimlich maneuver. Then she coughed and smiled, just as cute as the day I met her, clad in her bicycling bandana.

Alli’s take: I met my now husband, Shawn, on a six-day bicycle fundraising tour in 2003. Neither of us had really been into biking before the ride, so we were new to the whole experience. Over the course of the ride, we both fell in love twofold: with each other and with biking.

We were together for 10 wonderful years before getting engaged, and we were waiting for the federal Defense of Marriage Act to be repealed or for same-sex marriage to be legalized in Wisconsin. We have many gay and lesbian friends, and it felt unfair that we should be able to get married just because we happen to be straight.

The Defense of Marriage Act was repealed in June 2013, and we couldn’t be happier for all of our friends. One day, I was using Shawn’s phone to look something up on the Internet and realized he had been searching for a ring. It was a complete accident! But after I found out, I decided to get Shawn an engagement ring too, which I had engraved with the anniversary date of when we started dating.

Soon we went on a vacation in Bayfield, Wis., to bike and hike in the gorgeous Midwestern woodlands. We had just hiked up to a waterfall when Shawn proposed. I obviously said “yes” and gave him my ring in return. He was surprised that I figured him out. It was all very beautiful.

For our rehearsal dinner, we decided to have an intimate and casual pizza party in our backyard. I was laughing so hard I got some pizza stuck in my throat! At first, I thought I was OK – but the pizza quickly started to cut off my air supply. My friend, who, thankfully, is cool and collected under pressure, quickly realized what was happening and ran over to give me the Heimlich maneuver. The pizza popped right out and I coughed for about five more minutes with my eyes watering like crazy, but luckily I was totally fine. And it makes for a great story!

– Alli and Shawn, Madison, Wis.


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