The First Six Days

This is Day 6 of the Finish Well Ride and I’m just now writing my first blog from the road.

Partly it’s because every stop so far has been packed with activity and fundraising opportunities.

And partly it’s because any free time has been spent passed out from exhaustion.

The mileage has increased gradually from 50 miles (Day 1), to 73 miles (Day 2), to 82 miles (Day 3) to 109 miles (Day 5) and today we are back down to 89 miles.

We took a day off on Sunday, July 23, to speak in churches and boy, did we enjoy not riding that day.

The mileage itself would be challenging, especially because I didn’t ride the last 10 days before we started July 20, but what is making these first fews days especially hard is the heat.

We knew we were going to bake our first day because the kickoff was a “Lunch and Launch,” operative word being “lunch.”

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A quick stop in Liebenthal, KS for some beef jerky!

The ride started midday in the middle of July.

So when we got started by 8 a.m. the following day, we thought we were doing well.

But the last 10 miles of that day I felt like a chicken on a spit. The heat radiating from the asphalt put the temperature registered on my bike computer at 116. Another rider’s app put it at 120.

By Day 3 we were off before 7.

Day 5 it was 5 a.m. At this rate we’ll be riding at night soon.

Yesterday was our first day of more than 100 miles. At 100 we stopped on the highway and took a photo. It was the first century ride ever for three of the five riders.

Now, today, we actually saw 89 miles as a short (-ish) ride.

Very slowly we’re getting in shape.

I know that this ride would be a lot closer to impossible if it weren’t for my riding team James and Kellie Wynn, Cynthia Lopez and Paul Friese (since yesterday). Suffering together is a lot easier than suffering alone.

I also know that the fundraising events over the first few days of the trip have been very encouraging. From the kick-off in Oklahoma City on Thursday to the Sunday visit in Wichita, Kansas, I know we raised at least $9,000 U.S. because we sent that amount in ourselves from money we received. But the churches where we visited also had other amounts they would be sending to CMML, Inc., the missions organization that is handling our donations for us.

The fact that we already have at least $30,000 raised makes the hot days and long miles just a tad bit easier.

Then there’s the hospitality we’ve experienced. Just last night we stayed near Great Bend, Kansas with the family of our support driver’s old high school friend. Talk about Kansas hospitality. Good food, great sleep, enjoyable company! And they were up at 4:30 a.m. working out the best route for us and fixing breakfast burritos so we wouldn’t start off hungry. The Anshutz family was truly wonderful.

As have been my folks in Crescent, OK; Cindy Smith in Medford, OK and Mark and Linda Borofsky and Kelly and Jamie Randolph in Wichita, KS.

The latter are old friends and they took good care of us on our day off. We needed that day. Just want to say thanks to all of them and to Pastor Todd Bohrer of the First Baptist Church of Plainville, KS for letting us crash on the church floor tonight.

So far we haven’t had to pitch the tents and we probably haven’t lost any weight.

I also want to thank all those who have been praying for safety and a south wind. So far we’ve had just what we’ve needed.

Tomorrow might be different. We’re headed west and hope to make it to Levant, KS. We make it to Levant and we stay with a family. We don’t and we have to camp.

Levant is just over 100 miles and the weather forecast is talking about a wind from the west.

Maybe a 4 a.m. start to get there before the wind gets ferocious?

Contentment is on the way

To be honest, this last week I was feeling a bit discouraged.

I found out a delicately balanced trip itinerary with a lot of moving pieces will have to be readjusted because some of my team has to return earlier than expected.

Also, I haven’t been able to train that much and when I did this last week I blew a tire and/or had a flat.

I was feeling undertrained and overwhelmed by all the different tasks I have to get done to get ready for the Finish Well Ride. It starts in 14 days, but 10 of those I’m either traveling or working with a group.

Then I found a slide show presentation from the first ride like this that I ever did.

It was to raise money for the seminary where I work. I look at the photos and just chuckle. We didn’t have cycling gear. We didn’t have money. We had no idea what we were doing and somehow we got from San Jeronimito, Gro. to Wichita, Kansas  (about 2,000 miles) in 40 days.

I know it was hard. I’m sure it was. It had to have been. But I don’t remember the hard stuff. I just remember the adventure.

I remember our longest day for that trip was just about 100 miles, from Matehuala, Mexico to the middle of nowhere. It was getting dark and we were looking for a place to stop when we came to a cluster of houses along the highway in the middle of the desert.

That was about it. No restaurants. No stores. No nothing.

We were tired and hungry so we knocked at the first house and made a deal with the woman: you cook us some eggs and tortillas and we’ll pay.

We had bought some homemade cheese along the highway earlier that day and bought a 2 lt bottle of Coke from somewhere. So eggs and homemade flour tortillas, cheese and Coke.

After 100 miles it felt like the best meal I’d ever had in my life.

Then it was bed time. No shower. I think I just washed my face and changed out of my cycling clothes, but that’s about it.

As I lay there in the tent, in the two minutes it took me to go to sleep, I remember thinking: “I’m content. All I really need is food, drink and somewhere to rest my weary head. Everything else is luxury.”

I hope I get to experience something like that again on this trip.

I know the promotional video, the website, the media contacts and planning the speaking engagements has to be done because there’s a $75,000 goal to be reached for a worthy ministry that I’m proud to be a part of, BUT I hope once I’m out there riding, maybe somewhere in the Colorado Rockies, about the time I’m getting in shape, the stress will melt away and contentment will take its place.

Naming Red

The 2017 Finish Well Ride is peaking over the horizon. Twenty-nine days remain until that first of many long days of pedaling first over plains, then over mountains, then over more mountains until I finally arrive at the northernmost point where supporters of Bet Shalom can be found (and if there’s a farther point north, I don’t want to know.)

So what am I thinking right now?

I’m thinking: “WHAT AM I THINKING?!?”

My 4,000 km ride is turning out to be closer to 5,000 km. It’s too late to change the promotional material, but then what’s a thousand extra kilometers if you’re going to do 4,000, right?

I’ve got a lot of contacts still to make and press releases and videos to send. I’m starting to wonder if any churches besides the few contacts I have along the way are going to provide shelter for this weary traveler and her crew, and who knows if I’ll get anywhere near my $75,000 USD fundraising goal.

But right now none of this weighs on me as much as the dilemma of what to name my bike.

It’s not a new bike. I received it as a donation for my 2009 ride from Zihuatanejo to Oklahoma City.

In fact, my first time to ride it was the first day of that journey. Maybe at the time it was too new and sleek and professional to receive a name.

Now it’s past its prime and we’ve become friends.

It deserves a name, just like Meg, the second-hand mountain bike I bought more than 20 years ago in Taos, New Mexico.

I named her after the broken down mare in the Robert Burns poem, Tam O’Shanter.

For all the world Tam O’Shanter’s mare was just an old nag, but for Tam O’Shanter she was “my good mare Meg, a better never lifted leg.”

After the mountains of northern New Mexico, after the rain-soaked journeys of southern Spain. After frigid rides in England and the scorching ones in the African out-of-the-way places, my Meg earned her name and her epithet.

I even brought her to Mexico for a while and she carried me on my first long adventure here: the trip up through the Sierra Madre to see the Monarch butterflies in the Michoacan Highlands.

Her last big ride with me was the first one I rode up from Zihuatanejo to Oklahoma in 2003. Even though she was mainly just an extra on that trip, she didn’t get offended. She gave plenty of good miles when I asked it from her.

Meg never failed me.

But, alas, Meg is not up for this journey. She wasn’t up for the last one either, for that matter.

Since 2009 I’ve had a red bicycle. IMG_4923

Even as I write that last sentence I’m sorry I never named it. How can this red racer that has carried me more than 8,000 miles go without a name for so many years?

These days its red paint is chipped and some pieces have been replaced (and more will be replaced before I take off from Oklahoma City), but this red bicycle has kept its figure and it’s ready to ride another long one, or at least it doesn’t believe anyone who says it can’t.

Now you see why this bike needs a name?

What will it be?

This is Where I’m Going (Probably)

Here’s the itinerary for the 2017 Finish Well Ride. Look at it and if I’ll be near you at any point, let me know. I’ve plugged in a few two- or even three-day stops. Really those are cushion days so that if I don’t make my mileage (mainly in the mountains) then I can catch up.

There are about a dozen points on the map where I have a contact that dictated the general direction I’ve decided to go. After that I basically filled in the details by just picking the most interesting place names on the way (i.e. Rustic, Dinosaur, Chilly, Good Grief, etc.).

The last bit in Canada is still being looked at by my Canadian peeps and blanks will be filled in and probably tweaks made later.

 

2017 Finish Well Ride Itinerary

Start Day July 20 – OKC  to Crescent – 50 miles (81 km)

July 21 – Crescent to Medford – 70.9 miles (115 km)

July 22 – Medford to Country Acres Baptist Church (Wichita, KS) – 76.8 miles (124 km)

July 23 – Rest in Wichita

July 24 – Wichita to Stafford, KS – 85.3 miles (138 km)

July 25 – Stafford to Plainville – 120 miles (194.52 km)

July 26 – Plainville to Menlo – 84.9 miles (137 km)

July 27 – Menlo to Goodland – 56.9 miles (92 km)

July 28 – Goodland to Eckley, CO – 89.1 miles (144 km)

July 29 – Eckley to Akron – 40.3 miles (65 km)

July 30 – Akron to Raymer – 60.3 miles (98 km)

July 31 – Raymer to Ft. Collins – 68.5 miles (111 km)

Aug. 1 – Rest

Aug. 2 – Ft. Collins to Rustic – 42 miles (68 km)

Aug. 3 – Rustic to Walden – 57.5 miles (93 km)

Aug. 4 – Walden to Steamboat Springs – 59 miles (96 km)

Aug. 5 – Rest

Aug. 6 – Steamboat Springs to Lay – 60.9 miles (99 km)

Aug. 7 – Lay to Dinosaur – 68.8 miles (111 km)

Aug. 8 – Dinosaur to Red Canyon, Utah – 70.2 miles (114 km)

Aug. 9 – Red Canyon to Lyman, WY – 83 miles (134.km)

Aug. 10 – Rest

Aug. 11 – Rest

Aug. 12 – Lyman to Diamondville – 41.8 miles (68 km)

Aug. 13 – Diamondville to Montpelier, ID – 76.5 miles (124 km)

Aug. 14 – Montpelier to Pocatello – 87.5 miles (141 km)

Aug. 15 – Rest

Aug. 16 – Pocatello to Arco – 85.3 miles (138 km)

Aug. 17 – Arco via Carey to Ketchum – 83.2 miles (135 km)

Aug. 18 – Rest

Aug. 19 – Ketchum to Chilly, ID – 40.9 miles (66 km)

Aug. 20 – Chilly to Salmon – 94.4 miles (153 km)

Aug. 21 – Salmon, ID to Sula, MT – 58.3 miles (94.5 km)

Aug. 22 – Sula to Missoula – 83.3 miles (135 km)

Aug. 23 – Missoula to Thompson Falls – 101 miles (164 km)

Aug. 24 – Thompson Falls to Hope, ID – 69.2 miles (112 km)

Aug. 25 – Hope, ID to Coeur d’Alene – 62.1 miles (100 km)

Aug. 26 – Rest

Aug. 27 – Rest

Aug. 28 – Sandpoint to Good Grief, ID – 59.7 miles (97 km)

Aug. 29 – Good Grief, ID to Cranbrook, B.C. – 53.2 miles (86.2 km)

Aug. 30 – Cranbrook to Premier Lake – 40 miles (65 km)

Aug. 31 – Premier Lake to Fairmont Hot Springs – 38.4 miles (62 km)

Sept. 1 – Fairmont HS to Radium Hot Springs (or maybe farther along) – 23 miles (37.3 km)

Sept. 2 – Radium HS to Castle Junction – 65.5 (106 km)

Sept. 3 – Castle Junction to Banff – 20 miles (33 km)

Sept. 4 – Banff to Ghost Lake – 47.8 miles (77 km)

Sept. 5 – Ghost Lake to Calgary – 41.9 miles (68 km)

Sept. 6 – Calgary to Drumheller – 83.6 miles (167 km)

Sept. 7 – Drumheller to Youngstown – 80 miles

Sept. 8 –  Youngstown to ?????

Sept. 9 – ????? to Red Deer

Finish Well Ride: No More Easy Days

June 1 – Fifty days from today I’ll be taking off from Oklahoma City on another bicycling adventure that, if all goes well, will end 50 days after that in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.

The 2017 Finish Well Ride is starting to loom large on the horizon.

Just an hour ago I got a commitment from a couple willing to drive sag wagon 10 days for the last gaping hole on my itinerary.

Thank the Lord, things are finally coming together.

Never mind that I can barely ride 60 miles and then need a couple of rest days afterwards. That’ll get worked out.

As the day draws near the voice in my head that says “you can always ride tomorrow” is now getting overruled by the voice that says “you don’t have time to mess around.”

I like that voice.

Actually, that voice can be merciless sometimes, but I like how I feel when I obey that voice.

My aunt told me how she was once talking to my grandfather, who was a man of few words, but who, when he said something, was worth listening to. She was complaining about how hard her day was and he said, “Did you want an easy one?”

I think I understand what my grandpa was trying to convey: Easy days don’t make us better. They don’t produce endurance or character.

So while it might seem preferable in the short term, it’ll get you nowhere in the long run, whether we’re talking about a ride to Canada or life.

Sure, rest is a blessing, but a life full of easy days can be a curse.

Here’s to no more easy days…at least for a while.