Posts tagged ‘cycling’

Day 60 to Silver Spring, MD – Finding the Way

My last ride of the trip may have only been 62 miles, but it felt more like 92. The traffic was extremely congested and the driving was very aggressive giving me little room for error. It took all the concentration and biking skills I could muster to ride in this traffic. After just 30 miles I was mentally and physically exhausted. So I was thankful when Pam stopped at a bike shop to get a more detailed map of the area and discovered the presence of a bike path not too far from where I was riding. What a relief to get such timely information. I navigated to the path that I then took all the way from Falls Church, VA into D.C. and up into MD. I then had to deal with the traffic for the last 7 miles of the trip before reaching my final, and I do mean my final destination.

Washington, D.C. is a tough place to ride. The drivers are aggressive and unforgiving as are the bikers on the bike path. Such behavior makes it more difficult to navigate through the city as it takes all your focus just to stay safe. Life can be that way, especially for those in material poverty. Just think of how exhausting it must be to have your baby cry because she is wet but you only have two diapers remaining that need to last for another week. And then to have others treat you as less of a person because of your lack of financial resources is like riding in heavy traffic with unforgiving drivers. Believe me, it doesn’t feel good. We all need a mentor, someone to help us along the way, if we’re going to find the best way to our destination in life.

I am so fortunate to have had a support team for this ride. The team on the ground with me included Pam, Bill and Dorothy Anderson, Lindahl Grant Sr, and Bob Howard. And then there is the support I received from the Richland Church, which has been humbling and inspiring. I also had the support of people from around the country who have written me emails, responded to my blog, and sent messages through the website. And then there were the people I met throughout the country who opened their homes and their lives to us. So it was a fitting conclusion to this to have the full support of the North American Division (NAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring. It was a lovely reception that included interviews with a reporter from a FOX affiliate and the communications department of the NAD. I met Alison Weir from the National Diaper Bank Network who spoke at the reception and Sung Kwon who is the head of Adventist Community Services at the NAD. With people like this in my life, how could I not find my way? Now it’s time for all of us to be part of a support team for someone else!

This ride might be over, but the journey is just beginning. On September 22 I will be speaking at the Richland Adventist Church to discuss the lessons from the ride and where we go from here. Check out our church website at http://www.myrichlandchurch.org for more information on that event.

Trip Stats:  Total Miles- 3,473.4    Hours on the Bike- 276     Contacts Made- Too numerous to count    Lives Changed- Mine for sure.

 

 

Day 55 to Troutville, VA – Understanding My Complaints

I will admit that I’m tired of riding, but I’m not tired of connecting with God, one person at a time. My legs are complaining loudly that they have enough of biking for a while, but my mind tells them to keep going because they are providing the opportunities to connect with others. However, they keep on complaining. Today the complaints came fast and furious. At first it was too many steep hills to climb when we (my legs and my mind) thought the worst was over. In actuality the worst is over, but even a short climb of 14% gets tiring. And then there was the road surface to complain about as it was far too uneven and rough for 20 miles. Once the road surface smoothed there was the headwind for a few miles.

Today I realized there will always be something to complain about if what you’re doing is significant. If anyone could pick up a bike and ride across America with no pain, no challenges, no complaints, then no one would care if you did it. If it weren’t for the presence of complaints, then I would not have so many speaking appointments, contacts, life lessons, and diapers for those in need. I had this same problem early in the ride, however for a different reason. Early in the ride I my fitness level was too low for the level of activity I was doing. So my legs revolted and I complained. Now my fitness level is very high but my fatigue level is also very high. So my legs have revolted again and I complained. But I know this ride is significant because I am doing it to join God in His activity across this country. I see Him at work more and more as I meet people in town after town. And so I laid the complaints to rest and my legs agreed because they want to be standing as I connect with others.

When your fitness level is low or your fatigue level is high, the complaints are bound to come creeping in. It’s worth remembering this fact. If you have not been spiritually exercising by sharing your faith and connecting with others, then you can expect to find yourself complaining more because your spiritual fitness level is low. The same is true if you are not resting in Jesus, allowing Him to fight your battles. When you fight your battles in your own strength without the help of a mentor, God’s Word, and/or  His Spirit, then expect to find yourself complaining more because your fatigue level is too high. So exercise and rest. And if you find yourself complaining, make sure you know your spiritual condition. It could change how you see your challenges.

Ride Stats:  Total Miles- 62.1    Elevation Gain- 3,533 ft    Avg Speed- 11.3 mph    Avg HR- 104 bpm

Day 54 in Radford, VA – Tired and Sore, Thankful and Energized

My legs feel like they are bruised making it hard to enjoy the ride. Though there was less climbing than in the past week, I found it difficult to ride well. However, I am motivated by God’s Spirit and not by how well I ride so the day went well. And just to be sure I remember it is God’s ride I am on He revealed his protective powers today on three separate occasions. The first time was when I was descending on a well paved road and decided to take my eyes off the road surface to enjoy the scenery, which can be dangerous at speeds of over 30 mph. I looked down in time to see two large potholes side by side with only an inch separating them and my front tire was on that one inch. I immediately thanked God for saving me from a nasty spill. The next two incidents were also on descents that ended with a stop sign at the bottom of a curve with no warning there would be a stop. The first crossroad had no traffic so everything was fine. Again, I thanked God for His protection. The second such intersection had traffic coming from the left. I quickly assessed the distance to the stop sign, my speed, the fact there was no traffic from the left, and that I had time to cross the road before the oncoming traffic would pass. I made it safely across the road thanking God once again. I realize that I need to be very careful on the road, but am very thankful that God saw fit to deliver me safely to my interview with a local reporter, Mike, and my appointment at the Radford Seventh-day Adventist church in the evening.

Mike interviewed Pam and me, and then came to hear me speak at the church. After the program he told me how awesome he thinks it is that I am taking the time to ride across America for such a cause that brings people together to help one another. The CEO of the Radford Pregnancy Support Center, Debbie, was there to receive diapers the Adventist church had obtained from a diaper drive. This is why I’m riding! It doesn’t matter that my legs are sore right now because God is using this ride to motivate His church to work with others to solve kingdom issues today. Debbie told us stories of how their Center has helped change the lives of young women and families whose most desperate need is diapers. And then Corrine from the Radford church gave Debbie diapers to distribute in her Center.

I am tired. My legs hurt. And my saddle sores, though manageable, are uncomfortable. But I count it a privilege to have such aches and pains for the front row seat I have to God’s power to move in people’s lives and to keep me safe on the road. This is truly an adventure that I wouldn’t trade for 10 vacations to sunny beach locations. I’m glad God is still in the business of calling us to His work.

Ride Stats:  Total Miles- 68.4     Elevation Gain- 3,612 ft     Avg Speed- 12 mph

Catch the pictures on Facebook

Day 53 to Sugar Grove, VA – Tools

Yesterday I visited a bike shop in Damascus, VA to see if I could get my primary bike fixed. As it turns out, they have a master mechanic who said he would stay as long as it would take to get the bike it top working order. For only $35.00 I had a brand new bike. Today’s ride was not only short but loads of fun even with very tired legs because my bike fits me perfectly and handles like a dream.

This incident reminded me of the importance of tools. Often the only thing standing between me and a job well done is the right tool. When it comes to tools, it usually pays to get the best tool for the job. On this ride, my bike is a tool I am using to get across the country to raise awareness about the need for diapers and our collective need to love, serve, and mentor one another. What a difference the best tool possible (my primary bike) makes on this trip. This is also true in our everyday lives. If you are going to respond to God’s call in your life, make sure you have the right tools to accomplish it. In my experience, He will equip you to use those tools. But you have to take the time to get the tools.

Here are some tools I find every follower of Jesus needs: 1) Listening skills. Do you really know how to actively listen?  2) Personal testimony. Can you tell your story of how God has equipped you?  3) Be a mentor. Do you know how to journey with another person?  4) Forgiveness. Do you know the real meaning of forgiveness and how to help another person forgive?  5) Lead a person to Jesus. Do you know how to help someone accept Jesus as their personal Savior?  6) Bible study. Do you know how to study the Bible? Do you know how to study the Bible with someone in a way that is relevant to the questions they are asking in life?

You may have a different list of tools that are necessary to journey through life. I would love to know what tools you use to follow God’s calling.

Ride Stats:  Total Miles- 45.7    Elevation Gain- 2,963 ft    Avg Speed- 11.1 mph    Avg HR- 105   

Day 52 to Hayters Gap, VA – Experiencing Poverty

After 2 consecutive days of over 5,000 ft elevation gain my legs were fatigued today. As I tackled one tough climb after the next resulting in more elevation gain today than on any ride to date, I experienced poverty of strength. The mind was willing, but the legs just wouldn’t respond. In addition, I was attacked by dogs on two separate occasions, both times while ascending an incline of 12% grade. Add to this oppressive humidity and the day was nearly overwhelming. 

As I focused on process to get through the day, there was more than one time I doubted whether I could ride the number of miles planned for the day. The hills seemed like walls that were nearly impossible to climb due to my poverty of strength. I became discouraged and frustrated with my painfully slow progress. But I remembered that I am not alone in this ride. I am on God’s mission and He will give me strength. I have a great support system as Pam is at every turn to give me emotional support along with cold water and fresh food. So I simply pedaled slow and steady today to complete the ride understanding that it’s not about how fast I can ride but how much I can learn as I connect with people along the way. 

My experience today once again reminded me that we all suffer from some type of poverty that makes our challenges seem insurmountable from time to time. You may experience spiritual, emotional, relational, physical or material poverty to name just a few. Today I had a poverty of strength forcing me to rely on God’s strength. Those with little children who suffer from material poverty must feel like they are trying to climb steep hills day after day, especially if they don’t have a good support system around them. That’s what this ride is all about – giving them a support system by providing diapers so they can be the parents they desire to be. The ultimate solution to our poverty is Jesus. Paul says it like this in 2 Corinthians 8:9, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” Today I experienced poverty that then allowed me to become rich. The last descent of the day was actually the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike as I coasted down a 12-14% grade with hairpin turns. God is good!

Ride Stats:  Total Miles- 76.9    Elevation Gain- 6,614 ft    Avg Speed- 9.7 mph    Max Temp- 93.3 with 95% humidity

Day 51 to Lookout, KY – Pictures and Mingling

I have perhaps found more life lessons and harder rides in the Appalachian Mountains than anywhere so far. I have climbed more than 5,000 ft each of the last two days with climbs as steep as Missouri. Like most of us, I have my own preconceived ideas about Appalachia even though I have never been here. While taking lots of pictures of the area I realized today that pictures aren’t enough. A picture might be worth a 1000 words, but you’ve got to mingle with the people if you really want to know the true meaning of the picture.

Some observations from snapshots of Appalachia while on my bike include the following: 1) Lots of people go to church because there’s a church around every corner. 2) They’ve got guns here because many of the street signs are used for target practice. 3) They are wary of strangers because there are “No Trespassing” signs on literally every house. 4) The economy is supported by coal and all the other businesses have have “We Are Coal Friendly” signs.

But it wasn’t until I completed my ride today and arrived at the RV that I was able to mingle with people from Appalachia. Tonight our RV is parked next to a soccer field where a local high school team was running a scrimmage. The coach saw our RV and asked if I would talk with the girls about my ride and give a short devotional thought. So I walked over to the soccer field with Pam, Dorothy, and Bill to talk with the girls. After speaking with the girls we gave them each a Ride 4 Diapers business card. One girl, Frankie, came to talk with me after I had finished speaking. She wanted information on how she could do something for her community. We talked for a few minutes and she plans to have diaper drives at WalMart and her high school to distribute to the local pregnancy center.

We took a picture of Frankie with me, the only picture of real substance of Appalachia because it’s a picture of mingling. I now realize that though the people of Appalachia may have a different subculture than me, they respond to someone caring about their needs just like I do. The basic needs Jesus describes in Matthew 25 cuts across every culture. I have never seen Matthew 25 in that light before today. We all need food, water, clothing, and a friend to the stranger, the sick, and the imprisoned. This is the place to begin in any community anywhere in the world.

Ride Stats:  Total Miles- 87.7    Elevation Gain- 5,164 ft    Avg Speed- 11.1 mph    Max Temp- 102.2 with 90% humidity

Mingling…

 

And here’s Frankie who is inspired to do diaper drives…

Day 46 to Mackville, KY – Faith

Yesterday I saw tangible evidence of the truth described in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for good when we trust in God’s way. Today I have to accept this truth by faith. Yesterday I could see how the pain of previous rides helped me enjoy the hills of Kentucky. I have faith today’s painful ride will help develop patience, insight, and strength.

When I have a difficult ride I try to deconstruct it to learn as much as I can from it. So here are the ingredients that made this ride so bad:

1) We crossed into the Eastern time zone yesterday losing an hour. This would not have been so bad except that I didn’t realize this fact until after yesterday’s ride. This made the evening short & the morning early. We started the ride about an hour after we otherwise would have started it. LESSON: Be prepared. Such facts are important to know when there is so little time after each ride to shower, attend to the saddle sores, ice my legs, eat, blog, post pictures, and maintenance the bike.

2) My mind was not into the ride. I just wanted to get it done which is always a recipe for a hard ride. I know better than this, but I was mentally tired today. LESSON: Take as much time as necessary to get my mind in the game! Rather than looking for results, think about the process, the purpose of the ride, and seek inspiration from God’s Word. Even when it doesn’t seem like there’s enough time, I know that is exactly when I need to take the time to be in prayer with Him.

3) I road my spare bike because my primary bike has over 3,700 miles on the rear cassette and chain. I knew it needed to be changed about 3 weeks ago, but I’ve been able to ride it well until this week. However, I didn’t check out my spare bike until last night, which was shortened by the time change. So I quickly got it ready, but I didn’t have the time to check out every detail. I discovered each of those details on the ride today. LESSON: Don’t just have a back-up plan, have the plan fully ready to be implemented.

4) I made the decision to visit the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln as it was only a mile out of our way. I knew this would prolong the day and make it more mentally challenging, but I didn’t want to miss this site which I had never seen. It was inspiring and an added hour to the ride that I think was well worth it. The problem for the ride came into play because of #2 above. LESSON: Be mentally prepared for the ride. This trip is more of a mental challenge to be ready each day than it is a physical one. I find this to be true in everyday life as well.

So I fully expect tomorrow’s ride to be much better. I still enjoy my primary bike much more, but it will get serviced in Louisville on Friday. I will enjoy the fact that I have a back-up bike to ride and appreciate it for what it has to offer. I will spend the time necessary to be in touch with God’s purpose for this ride and focus on the process of this trip and the ride tomorrow.

Ride Stats:  Total Miles- 83.5   Elevation Gain- 3,862 ft     Avg Speed- 12 mph     Avg HR- 111

 

 

 

 

 

 

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