Monday, June 22, 2009

Recapping Ride:Well Week 1 - Part 2

Here is the second half of my promised - ridiculously long - update.

Wednesday we started sore, but I was still on a high from the previous day’s crazy adventure – though I have to admit it was a little discouraging when 15 miles in we hit a hill with a 10%grade and we’d been told it was going to be “all flat all day.” We knocked it out, though, and the rest of the day was pretty flat. Unfortunately, I paid for the previous day’s climbs, and my back wouldn’t forgive me for it. I made it through, but it was even harder than the previous day of mountains – bodies certainly can be unforgiving. I took time and care, a couple pain pills, and a good night’s rest to try and sort it out. When I woke up Thursday I still couldn’t even stand up completely straight, but I decided to give it a shot and see if I could stretch it out on the bike – there’s no shame in being in the van, I told myself, but I certainly wasn’t going to end up there without at least beginning with a strong effort in the morning.

Feeling as I did, my goal on Thursday was a mere 20 miles (or the first van stop, wherever that led me). Of course I am too stubborn for that, so I just took it easy and rode at a more mild pace for the day, and slowly but sure, we got in! It felt great to have started the day with such lack of confidence, but incredible to have fought the second day of intense heat and safely rolled into the church in Yuma, AZ. It was certainly a result of good teamwork that day – and Lyzz was our faithful leader that got us through. Couldn’t have done it without her!

Friday. Long, hot, and the team was really spread out. That made it really hard on the Mother Falcon, who was trying her best to get us shade and more water in adequate time. Breaks with the van were at 28 and 52 miles, and by the time we got half way (67miles) to the third break (78miles), I was hot, out of water, and suffering from some heat exhaustion that literally took my breath away. I had dealt with physical pain for several days previous on the trip, but this whole thing about not breathing was new to me – and scared me! So I made the decision I dreaded, and REALLY didn’t want to – we thought we had 30miles to go – so I got in the van. 5 minutes in the shade, and I felt 200% better, but since I had already confessed to having issues breathing, my teammates kind of made me make the safe decision, and I still took the ride. This was a huge disappointment, and even more so when we drove 11miles to the next water break and discovered the directions were wrong – we were then only 2 (not 17) miles from camp. I know I could have made that, but also know there were right, and better safe than sorry – heat exhaustion wasn’t something I should be taking chances with.

The coming sandstorm at the campground in Dateland, AZ made for a first for many of us R:Wers. We got all of our bikes, etc safely inside and sat outside to feel the cool wind and watch the storm roll in. It ended up missing us, but not before we were generously offered a place to stay inside by the owner of the campground. She had a lovely home, and the 5 of us girls who stayed with here were REALLY grateful for the great night’s rest we got before being up at 3am so we could leave at the first peak of dawn.

Yep, we really got up at 3am. Crazy, right? The first group of cyclists were out by 4:30am, when the sun had barely begun to rise and we could only see about 100 yards in front of us. It was cool, though (78degrees), so it was totally worth it. A smaller group of 5 of us girls – those of us who had ridden in the van at all during the week – were asked not to ride this morning, but to instead stay in the van to get shuttled the first 40miles b/c they didn’t want the group to spread out on such a long day. We weren’t excited about it, but it worked out. We finally hit the road about 6:15 and enjoyed one of the best days to ride so far. It was hot, but not nearly as hot as it had been days previous. There was an incredible gift of cloud cover on occasion, and every 20 miles or so there were actually even gas stations to stop in! Our pace was great, and by the end of the day (we got in 83 miles, those who got to start early had ridden 123), the small but mighty group of us girls were pacing around 19mph. It was a great day – so great that we were sad it ended, as we thought we were going to get in our first century ride, but (again) our directions were off, and we had 20less miles! A great surprise, but a disappointing one when we realized we would miss the extra miles we thought we would get.

Fortunately, our greeting by Desert Springs Church could not have been better – they greeted us with ice cold wet towels, cold drinks, and a crew of youth to wash and wax our filthy bikes! Everyone stayed in host homes, and the families are all incredible. By 6 my family came, and I got to spend the next 20 or so hours with them. It was a great opportunity to visit and catch up, and as always great to see the babies and how big they’re getting! Until last year, I had never made it to visit them, so it was a great blessing to get to visit for the third time in 12 months! It was a great bonus to have Lyzz join me – I love it when my worlds collide, and love that a friend on this journey has gotten a glimpse into my life outside of the Ride:Well Tour.

Sunday evening was our benefit concert at Desert Springs Church in Chandler. Sara Groves played and did an amazing job, the crowd filled the church about half way, and of course as always I cried when she sang “I saw what I saw.” Perhaps when they are more processed, I will offer further reflections on the many things going through my mind during the show. It was a big night for me with lots of thoughts running through my mind – I would have done anything to have a journal with me! I love stuff like that – when God moves us in unexpected ways in unexpected places, with unexpected people.

In hindsight, these moments are the ones that make the puzzle of life fit together so clearly, while I know that if I had planned the journey or cut the pieces myself, it would look entirely different. I am thankful for the way it is, for the way it fits, for the ways I am growing, and for this new family that is challenging and loving me in so many different ways.

All of this… and its only been one week. I can’t wait to see how the next seven unfold.

Part one of Week 1 Recap

For the third day in a row, I woke up and had to ask what day it is today. They all run together – so much happens each day, its hard to believe it has only been one week since we began riding. Yet it is also hard to believe the first week is already over and we are already in Phoenix. So basically, I live in a constant state of confusion.

Countless firsts have occurred since I last wrote. We had our first team ride on Saturday.

Sunday we had our first official day on tour, and left from a beautiful send-off in Long Beach. We had a great day and I had another first as we rode along the Pacific Coast Highway – I climbed a hill on my bike for the first time. (really – all of my training terrain was FLAT!)

Monday we rode to San Diego, en route to which I had more firsts, some better than others. Bad = my first falls (yes, plural – there were two!) of the tour. Both occurred due to bike malfunction, as my chain had decided to have an attitude problem, so when shifting gears, it sticks or sometimes just jumps off altogether. Awesome, right? When this happened as I was climbing a hill, my reaction was too slow, and I didn’t clip out quick enough to catch myself before the bike fell flat. Frustrating, for sure, but no seriously injuries, so all is well.
Good news? We also had our first mountainous climb – somewhere between 1.5 and 2 miles. I knocked it out, and it felt AMAZING!

Tuesday was mountain day. It’s a mental game, folks – and I wasn’t about to be defeated! We started strong with incredible endorphin highs from the early climbs before we hit the “real mountains.” As a result of previous day’s chain/derailer issues that had not yet been fully addressed, I decided to play it safe and not clip in. So I rode all 87 miles without clipping in, which was possible b/c a wise friend from the 08 team recommended I got dual pedals for when I may find such riding necessary. THANK YOU Blocker!
I won’t lie – the mountains were TOUGH! I had a great riding partner, though, and when I once said I was getting tired about 70 miles in, she looked and me and said, “no you’re not! Keep pedaling!” wise words. I listened. Good thing. Only 7 miles more and we found the greatest gift we could have asked for after such a day – we got to ride down the mountain for 10 miles, coasting (with hands firm on the brakes) the rest of the way to camp. I literally screamed for joy when I saw the sign at the peak – I couldn’t believe it! I made it, and with no time to spare, as the sun was surely going to set and daylight would be lost about 30 minutes later. PERFECT! I loved every minute of that ride down, even creating a lifetime memory as I hit 50.6mph as I made my way down the mountain. Absolutely Amazing. I was in disbelief I had climbed mountains only 3 days after I climbed my first hill! Encouraging friends (on the road and via texts) and prayer got me through the day, and I couldn’t have been more thankful.

More on the rest of the week soon. Its actually really fun to try writing this, to reflect and remember, to smile and take note of the details that fill our days. Great things indeed, and this will serve as a great reminder to us all down the road. I’ll finish the week when I have time later today.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Big Changes

I haven't updated in FOREVER...

Since the last time, big, big changes have taken place. I hope to update here periodically this summer (starting this weekend), so to give real updates, here's the 5cent update on things past -

First, perhaps most important - I GRADUATED! I now have a Master of Divinity Degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary! Graduation date was May 15, and not a day too soon! The picture below is immediately following the graduation ceremony, with 3 of my closest friends (and Ross and Amanda's sweet baby James!) who I have spent the past 3 years with. I LOVE these three (four!) amazing people, and have been so blessed by friendships with them.
Second - I have a plan for my life! I have been accepted as a Mission Intern with The United Methodist Church! Beginning in the fall (probably mid-September), I will attend a 3-week intensive training after which I will fly abroad (to a placement site yet to be determined), where I will serve as a missionary for the next 14-18 months. Following that placement, I will return to the US, where I will serve as a missionary in a domestic placement connected to the work I was doing abroad. I am VERY excited for this opportunity, and it fulfills exactly where I feel called to be serving right now. God is GOOD, and I cannot wait to see, experience, live into and serve in this ministry that seems so very very right.

Third - The Ride:Well Tour has begun! I am in LA right now, and since Thursday afternoon have been getting to know 17 strangers I will spend the rest of my summer with. Together, we will ride our bicycles across the US (from LA to Baltimore - 3311 miles!) to raise funds and awareness for Blood:Water Mission. I LOVE the team, and we had a great short ride today (about 20 miles) along the Atlantic in Long Beach, CA - where we took our official team pics on the beach. Tomorrow morning we will depart this haven in Long Beach that has been our place of gathering and training, and begin our trek out toward Dana Point. So begins our journey of staying in new places every night, slowly making our way across the United States powered only by our legs (and lots of food and water!).
This is our team only about an hour after we finally all gathered (at a pastor's house) -I hope to update more throughout the summer, and invite you to follow along on the website. It has already been an adventure with many tales to be told, and I cannot wait to share it with you.