Valentine’s Day is a time for being with the people you love, and what better way to celebrate it than to share a heartwarming story of two lovebirds, Francis and Sara, who experienced the proposal of a lifetime.
Toronto natives, Francis and Sara, share a big passion for cycling and it’s something that has brought them closer together as a couple. Back in April of 2022, they decided to book a Trek Travel trip to sunny Arizona for November, so they could get out of the colder temps of Canada. In September, the idea of proposing to Sara on the trip popped into Francis’ mind, “After we started planning this trip, I decided that I was going to propose.” He said. So he bought the ring and reached out to Emily, their Trip Consultant, for help in planning the perfect proposal. Emily connected Francis with one of the guides, Jen, and together, they came up with a plan that would make Sara have no inkling that something special was about to happen.
“So from there, it became this huge thing where everyone was super excited and very helpful.” He said, “Jen and I were chatting and right away she sort of came out with a list of five suggestions. Some were on-bike ideas and some were off-bike, and through a couple of e-mails back and forth with guides’ Bev, Jen, and Dave, they got right to it.” The group started finding the best spots to propose along the route and would send photos back to Francis to get his input. “They even had sort of a mock proposal with Dave and Bev so I could get a sense of what it could look like. After seeing that, I thought it was perfect!”
It was finally time to head to Arizona. Francis and Sara arrived at CIVANA Wellness Resort and Spa on Monday, with the proposal planned for later in the week on Thursday. Over the next few days, Francis and the guides plotted out the details of how they were going to get Sara to the lookout point where the proposal was going to take place. “We came up with this plan where Dave would pull over one of the vans to the side of the road, saying that he was gesturing at a turnoff point, but that just happened to be where this lookout point was as well. Then earlier in the day I would tell Sara that something was wrong with my pedals so we could pull over and walk around while Dave “fixed” my bike. Bev would also be there with her camera and would suggest an awesome spot to take some photos because I know that Sara loves taking photos.” Francis would then lead her to the spot where the guides did the mock proposal and would get down on one knee.
Thursday morning rolled around and Francis could feel butterflies in his stomach. “I was having some anxiety about where I was going to put the ring box. It’s too bulky to put in the back of my jersey because Sara can see it. Then a couple of people sort of overheard me talking with one of the guides, and they all got excited and promised to keep quiet.” The ride started and the perfect plan sprang into action. “I had this mental countdown clock in my head because I knew what mile the pullover was going to be. So the whole ride became this countdown mile by mile until, oh my gosh, this is where it’s going to happen.”
Francis and Sara saw Dave in the distance and pulled off so he could “fix” Francis’ bike. Then with Bev’s suggestion, they began walking to the spot. “The walk was not that far, but maybe like 50 yards, and Sara was saying “Why do we have to go this far? There are so many other cactuses over here. I don’t understand. Can we just take a photo here?” I kept thinking that we have to keep going.” They quickly arrived at the spot. “It’s one of these things where the rest of it is a bit of a blur. I’m sure I blabbered out some nice words that expressed my love for Sara, then I got down on a knee.”
Sara was happily shocked and didn’t expect a thing all day. “It was all a very, very big surprise, even right up until the moment it was happening.” Sara said, “Like the whole story about how Dave wouldn’t have been parked there normally to mark the turnoff, so that was just a part of the ruse. Bev also just happened to be there with her big camera. I mean she’s just hanging out, taking pictures, because that’s what she does. So the moment he got down on one knee, I had no idea what was happening. There was a flutter of intuition that sat in me, but it was just a little flutter. I didn’t think it was happening on a Thursday in the middle of a bike ride, so I didn’t expect that at all!”
Then the newly engaged couple hopped back on their bikes and pedaled to the next rest stop. On their way in, Francis and Sara were met with another surprise as guides and fellow guests greeted them with champagne, cake, and a lot of cheering. “The rest of our group, who we only knew for four days became our little family.” She said, “It was such a unique thing to share with them, and they found it so special to be a part of it.”
Celebrations continued later that day and the rest of the trip. “Earlier on the trip,” Francis said, “I reached out to CIVANA and
told them about my engagement plans.” That night was a group dinner and Francis wanted to celebrate with their new friends while also doing something special for Sara. “The hotel recommended a local flower shop and let me call ahead so they could put a little arrangement together. Then they set up a table just for two. They also had a couple bottles of bubbly waiting for us, so that was a great way to celebrate the occasion afterward. The whole week was amazing. We had the best time, and the level of service that we experienced was so incredible. Dave and Jen were the champions of this whole experience. I couldn’t have done it without them!”
Looking back on the whole trip, Francis and Sara were delighted with how the proposal worked out. They said that, “The weekend before the trip, we spent two nights at the Grand Canyon and that’s a pretty spectacular place to propose.” Sara said, “Francis told me after the proposal that he was so anxious to get it over with so that he didn’t have to keep it a secret. If he had the ring on him at the Grand Canyon, he probably would have proposed right there.” Francis was relieved that he waited one more week, he said, “I was very glad that I didn’t propose there because it would have been spectacular, but it couldn’t have been more perfect than the way we had planned it.”
When they got back from Arizona they had one more surprise waiting for them. “Tania Burke sent us beautiful orchids and a nice card.” Sara said, “The resort also sent us a beautiful card, and all these thoughtful gifts meant a lot to us!” Francis and Sara have plans on visiting Mallorca this fall with Trek Travel to experience cycling by the Mediterranean Sea. As for the wedding, these travelers have a destination wedding in mind. “We’re going to have a wedding next January, probably in the Dominican. We were teasing after the proposal that [the other guests] were all invited to the wedding, and we hopefully will be able to plan a trip reunion sometime soon.”
Whether it be bikes, travel, or anything else, it’s the shared experiences that make love even stronger. “I think when it comes to biking,” Francis says, “it’s a constant reminder that you can do hard things when you push yourself. It’s probably cheesy, but it has strengthened our relationship together. All for the love of something that’s fun and feels good.”
We are delighted to be a part of Francis and Sara’s engagement and hope that their future is filled with love, happiness, and bicycles. Watch the video made by guest, Patrick O’Connor, who captured some moments from this special day.