I am in the midst of a 16 week training schedule to increase the amount of power I can attain on the bike. So yesterday I was instructed to maintain a 92 rpm cadence for 1.5 hours at a heart rate between 125-133. This seemed like an easy enough task to complete. I decided to ride around the Columbia River as it’s easier to keep a consistent cadence on flat terrain. This was a good plan except for the wind. Depending on the direction I was going the wind would push me forward, blow me sideways, or push against me. However, with such specific parameters given to my by my coach to ride within I found it relatively easy to ride in the wind. For the first time I actually enjoyed riding into a headwind.
I discovered that riding for time instead of distance makes all the difference in the world. Because I was riding for a specific period of time I didn’t worry about my speed. In fact, I simply concentrated on maintaining the cadence at 92 rpm. When my heart rate would drop I would increase my effort and shift the gears as necessary to the amount of effort needed to maintain my cadence and heart rate. Wind became a tool for me to train hard. I found it easier to pedal at the necessary cadence against the wind than in many other conditions.
In John 3:8 we read, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” When I was riding against the wind the sound was deafening. This was always a distraction to me until yesterday when I appreciated the wind for what it provided me – a great training ride. My ability to ride was increased because of the headwind. If I’m only focused on my destination rather than the journey along the way, I can get frustrated with the wind.
Perhaps we need to embrace the challenges in life as a gift from God to maintain our fitness level and even experience more power as a result of the journey. It’s so easy to always want a tailwind, but that doesn’t increase our strength and power like a headwind. Are you experiencing a headwind? If so, lean into it and enjoy the ride. You never know how strong it will make you.
We took a shortcut through Illinois thanks to the cyclists we met in Kansas. This will allow us to take an extra day off this week in Louisville where some cool things are happening because of this ride. One of the Louisville Seventh-day Adventist churches is collecting diapers for the women’s shelter in conjunction with this ride. I will be speaking at this church on Sabbath so I’m looking forward to meeting the people of this church who want to connect with their community in ways that demonstrate God’s love and acceptance.
As I rode into Kentucky today the question of the week has become, When do I stop? The mental and physical fatigue as well as the saddle sore issues from this long journey are catching up with me which would tell me to go less miles, not more. On the other hand, the idea of having two full days of rest in Louisville with family and friends will be be helpful in relieving these challenges if I can make it to the end of the week. But just how far should I go each day to gain the extra rest? How much should I push myself for this respite?
Knowing “when to stop” is an important one for our daily lives. I’m not talking about immoral or wrong actions. If we’re involved in such things we obviously need to stop sooner than later. But we are all involved in good activities – work, vacations, ministry, housework, family time, recreation, and more. These are all good, but how do we know when we’ve done enough or even too much? Books have been written about this, sermons have been preached, and we all have lived with the consequences of our decisions about when to stop.
I certainly don’t have all the answers, so I welcome your insights on this issue. Here are some principles I have discovered on this ride that guide me when to stop:
- Have a goal. My goal for this ride is to raise awareness and money regarding the need many families have for diapers. This goal includes sharing God’s love with people along the route and helping churches to see how important it is to be the hands and feet of God in their communities. The issue for us in our daily lives is to have a goal for our lives. Where does God fit into your life’s goal?
- Have a plan. I have plan for this ride. Each day has been clearly mapped out. I can “bank” time by riding a few extra miles to spend in a place like Lousiville because I do have a plan. It’s also important to have a plan for our lives. Do you have a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and/or life plan? Do you know where you want to be in 5 years and 10 years? Where does God fit into your life’s plan?
- Know your calling. I know God has called me to do this ride. This fact above all else has kept me going when I really don’t feel like riding. I know there is a greater purpose to this ride than just taking a trip across the country. Living without knowing your calling likely results in living for yourself rather than for God. It’s the difference between taking a ride and taking a ride for diapers.
- Know your heart. Jeremiah tells us our hearts are deceitful above all things. Andy Stanley has written that there are 4 enemies of the heart & they are all a matter of debt. They are 1) Guilt – I owe you. 2) Anger – You owe me. 3) Jealousy – God owes me. 4) Greed – I owe me. There is a habit to practice to defeat each of these enemies, something we can do to prevent these enemies from destroying our heart. The habit for guilt is forgiveness, for anger is confession, for jealousy is celebration, and for greed is giving. When I practice these habits I free my heart to live for God. I can then begin to trust my heart. It will tell me when to stop because my motivations will be pure.
- Be honest with yourself. Each day I have to be honest with myself as to the reasons I want to stop or not to stop. Are my aches and pains serious or just discomforts? Is the reason I want to get more miles a particular day for my own accomplishments or for the ride? Am I staying true to the goals and plan of the ride? This gets to our need for an accountability partner, a mentor, and/or a friend that will tell me the truth about my actions as they relate to my goals and plans.
I look forward to the ongoing dialogue on this important topic.
Ride Stats: Total Miles- 83.3 Elevation Gain- 1,785 ft Avg Speed- 12.5 mph Avg HR- 107 Pedal Strokes- 23,001
The Ohio River bordering Illinois & Kentucky…
The only “welcome” sign coming into Kentucky…
I began this trip on July 8 by riding over the Columbia River and within two weeks crossed over the Colorado River several times. Both of these rivers are larger than life as they have shaped the landscape on their way to the Pacific Ocean. Today I finally crossed over the mighty Mississippi River into Chester, Illinois. I’ve seen the Mississippi River several times in my life from Minnesota to New Orleans. We lived less than 100 miles from the Mississippi for nearly 16 years while residing in Rockford, Illinois. But today’s view of the Mississippi was the most memorable of all.
The Mississippi marks a milestone on this ride. I will be in Silver Spring, Maryland on September 5. The Mississippi River tells me I have crossed over into the eastern part of the United States. Lewis and Clark embarked on their historic journey to find the Columbia River by navigating west along the Missouri River from where it empties into the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River carries a rich history along it’s shores from north to south telling the greatness of this country. Today, the grandeur and history of the Mississippi River reminded me of the grand journey I am privileged to take across this country for the most helpless in our society – infants and toddlers in need of diapers. And so I am on my way to the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists on September 5 and on to Capital Hill on September 6 to bring awareness for the those who have no voice to those who have a big enough voice to make a difference in the lives of countless families. There are many moms and dads who want to be good parents, but don’t have the money for both food and diapers for their children. Together, we can help. Your donation today will be matched dollar for dollar for diapers. But it will do more than supply diapers to families in need, it will tell those who have a voice that we care about these families and it’s time they care for them as well.
We read in 1 John 3:16-18…16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
Ride Stats: Total Miles- 91.9 Elevation Gain- 1,965 ft Avg Speed- 12.9 mph Avg HR- 109 (It was a leisurely ride.)
Yesterday was my first full day in Missouri. I began by attacking each hill. They are not very long, but they are very steep (many are 12-14% grade). Since they’re not long, I thought I could power up them one after the other with a short break on each descent. After 50 miles I was exhausted. I try to keep my heart rate in zone 2 per my coach’s recommendations, but I was getting into zone 4 on some of the “out of the saddle” attacks up the hills. And yesterday was NOT the day to ride too hard because I was scheduled to speak at the grand opening of the Diaper Bank in Springfield, MO. I made it to this event, gave my talk, listened to the other speakers, and left inspired. But I also left knowing that I had forgotten the purpose of “Ride for Diapers” during my ride yesterday. I had made the ride about getting faster and conquering the foothills of Missouri.
During the event last night I described my ride to a person who has done a lot of riding in this area. He told me they call the hills I’m riding in this week the “foothills” because there’s another hill every foot! I then talked to Jill Bright, Newborns in Need volunteer, about the challenge of my ride. We talked about the difference between the mountaintop experiences in Montana and Colorado from that in Missouri. The mountains are bigger and take longer to ascend in Montana than those in Missouri, but in some ways they are easier because you know there’s just one or two passes to ascend that day. In Missouri I may ascend 30 “mountaintops” of 12% grade. As I talked with Jill, she shared how she finds the hills of Missouri to be similar to the daily problems in life while the mountains of Montana are similar to the major milestones in life. As I have thought about her observation, I tend to agree. Just like the hills of Missouri compared to the passes in Montana we encounter many more hills in life. These hills become exhausting. Think of the mother who only has 2 diapers left for another week. Every time her baby cries because she has soiled her diaper, the mother has another hill to ascend. When steep hills come at you around every bend in the road it gets exhausting. But thankfully, God has given us one another to share the burden. Thankfully Jill has listened to His voice and started a Diaper Bank in Springfield, MO. Thankfully we can help one another.
Yesterday I rode in such a way that is more than I can actually do because I thought I could do it my way all by myself. How often do you and I attack our problems without any advice or help? This is like trying to do more than we can. I have a coach who has given me counsel that has worked throughout this ride. I made the foothills of Missouri a major problem by not heeding his advice. The mountains of Missouri have taught me to never try to do more than I can. But they have also taught me that when I heed advice, whether it be from God’s Word or God’s Spirit or God’s people, I can usually do more than I think!
Yesterday I attacked the mountains of Missouri resulting in an average heart rate of 116 bpm and an average speed of 12.2 mph in 74.8 miles. I tried to do more than I could do. Today I kept my heart rate in zone 2 giving me an average heart rate of 111 bpm and an average speed of 11.4 mph in 82.4 miles. So remember, never try to do more than you can but you can usually do more than you think.
Ride Stats: Total Miles- 82.4 Elevation Gain- 3,973 Avg Speed- 11.4 mph Avg HR- 111 bpm Max Temp- 113
I have learned to approach each day with anticipation rather than with expectation. When I expect the ride to be hard, it is often easy. When I expect it to be easy, there are many times when it becomes very difficult. I am not certain how much my expectations color my perception of how easy an expected hard ride becomes or how hard an expected easy ride becomes. But I am sure that my expectations are a large factor as to my perceptions during the ride. But when I have no expectations of the level of difficulty of a ride, my anxiety prior to the ride markedly decreases as my ability to handle various challenges during the ride markedly increases.
Today is a perfect example of this principle in action. I had no preconceived ideas about the ride today. I simply wanted to enjoy the journey as I realize it is fast approaching the end. I also know the road surface could be poor at times, the wind could be briskly blowing against me, and even the hills of Kansas could be steep. But I also knew that with God’s strength, I have met every challenge to date. The ride began easy enough with little to know wind and a smooth road surface. However, within 30 minutes the wind began blowing and one hour into the ride there was a 10-15 mph wind that persisted throughout the remainder of the day. Nearly half the ride was into a strong headwind. Fortunately there was a tailwind for about 30% of the ride with a crosswind the rest of the time. An additional challenge was a late start that placed much of the ride in the heat of the day. Since I was anticipating the journey rather than expecting an easy ride I was able to enjoy the entire ride no matter the circumstances.
I find misguided expectations to be a key factor in the level of frustration, anger, impatience, and general malcontent. Unrealistic expectations are certainly a major cause of increased medical liability. A patient expects there to be no complications 100% of the time even though she has been counseled regarding the risk of surgery. But she expects the complications to effect someone else and not herself. A husband gives his wife flowers for the first time in 30 years. When she responds differently than he expected he becomes angry creating a family feud. If we choose to live each day in anticipation of the unexpected happenings each day brings in our journey through life, we will allow ourselves to experience the joy of the wins as well as the challenges.
Ride Stats: Total Miles- 80.3 Elev Gain- 1,522 ft Avg Speed- 13.8 mph Avg Cadence- 79 Avg Temp- 90.1