July 28, 2007


Stage 2 - 26.2 miles
The second stage was a amazing as the first. The scenery, the mountain air...it just doesn't get much better than this! I cruise along, mostly alone, enjoying the beauty all around.

Stage 3 - 29.2 miles

Riding alone isn’t so bad. When others are around, I just feel like I have to keep up. I always feel like I have something to prove. When I’m alone, I can set my own pace. This can be good, or bad. Stage 3 is where the first steep climb will present itself. As I am trying to pace myself up a short climb on Hwy 105, I am passed by three other cyclists. I jump on their back wheel and climb to the top. As we cruise along at a pretty comfortable pace, two of the guys start wondering if we missed a turn. I pull out my cue sheet. I misread it and conclude that we are on the right road. Two more miles till the next turn. They pull off at a fire station to assess the situation. But I am so sure of where I am that I just continue on my own. About 10 minutes later I realize that I am indeed on the wrong road. How did we miss that turn? I call Nancy on the cell. We try to figure out how far off course I am. I turn around and begin heading back. I am way behind now. How far did I go? Why didn’t I stop with those other guys? Will I ever make it back on course? I begin to feel very stressed and irritated. This is really not the way my day was supposed to go!

As a Christ follower, I have made many wrong turns. Coming down from a spiritual high, a mountain top experience, can give you a sense of pride, a feeling that you cannot be defeated. You get the idea that you know all you need to know, and end up "leaning on your own understanding." Rather than trust those around me, I made a foolish decision to strike out on my own. It ended up costing me valuable time. I could have listened to the advice of my 'small group,' but instead ignored their warnings and made a bad decision all by myself. And what do we always do as soon as we are in trouble? We call out to God for help!

Finally I see the road I am supposed to turn onto. I’m back on course. I try to call Nancy, but cell reception in the mountains isn’t always so great. I wind through a mountain golf course, then turn onto the beginning of the first big climb of the day. If I keep up a good pace, I might be able to catch up. Is there any chance anyone is still behind me? I must have ridden an extra 8-10 miles. I won’t know for sure until I get to the next Exchange Zone.

I finally cruise into the Exchange Zone just passed Grandfather Mountain. I am the last rider now. The closest group left 5 minutes ago. It’s time to kick it into high gear and catch those guys, or I’ll be alone all day!

July 26, 2007


Stage 1 - 24.8 miles

The air is cool, almost cold. The scenery is breathtaking. The pace is fast. Not much exciting happens on the first stage. It is mostly downhill. It almost makes you think it’s going to be an easy day! I am able to pace with two other riders, at least for a while. As we turned right onto 194 South, we begin a gradual ascent. One rider drops off the back, the other goes ahead. I eventually catch two more riders on the climb, and we ride together again for a while. The pace is high. Still working out the jitters. The reality still hasn’t totally sunk in. My instinct is to push harder, ride faster. But I’ve got a long ways to go. I find myself riding alone for most of the stage, which I find to be quite surprising. I would have expected the other riders to have wanted to stick together more, helping each other draft. Then just around the bend, in the mist, I see the first Exchange Zone. One down, 7 to go.

I’m reminded of life as a Christ follower. When I first experienced the refreshing presence of the One and True Living God in my life, I felt like I was on top of the world. I could do anything! I was ready to face life, ready to take on whatever obstacles lay ahead. Life as a Christ follower can be an exhilarating experience, much like starting a long descent on a bicycle down the side of a mountain on a cool, crisp morning. But we must not be fooled. Although things are great for the moment, we must always be prepared for the valley below. Anything can happen. We have to be ready.

July 25, 2007

Black & Blue Relay - 200 miles - July 21, 2007

I did it. The Black & Blue Relay is a 200 mile bicycle ride through the Black Mountains of Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. This was the inaugural ride. I was part of an amazing day of bike riding, and I will never forget it.

Over the next few days, I will be sharing some of my experiences. I hope you enjoy!

Getting to the Start

I set two alarms. The clock radio in the room, and my wrist watch. 4:10am. It’s the night before the longest ride I’ve ever done in one day. 200 miles. When I tell people what I’m doing I get all kinds of responses. Everyone has an opinion. Some think I’m crazy. Some wonder if it’s possible. Others try to compare it to something they’ve done – horseback riding, hiking, running – everybody wants to connect to it in some way.

The alarms are going off. I force myself to sit up. I look at the clock – 4:10am. As sleepiness begins to take a back seat to the reality of what I am about to do, I am suddenly wide awake. I stand and walk across the room. As I begin putting on my bicycling shorts, I realize that I better wake up Nancy and Garren. They are going to ride SAG. SAG is the support vehicle in a bicycle ride. They will be driving the route, supporting me, refilling water bottles, having food ready, and helping me to stay on course. I roll the bike out of the hotel room into the cool mountain air. It’s going to be a great day!

After a 40 minute drive to the start, I begin to unload and make final preparations. It’s still dark outside. The sky is beginning to lighten up gradually. 17 other teams are at the start, ready to take on the challenge of riding 200 miles, from Grayson Highlands State Park, VA to Asheville, NC, through some of the most beautiful mountains on the east coast. All the riders are gathered at the start line. Everyone seems a bit nervous, but ready to get going. At 6:00am, we get the go ahead, and begin our descent into the valley below.

July 10, 2007

The Right "Stuff"

A friend of mine who rides was telling me about an experience she once had while working her way up a long mountain climb. Cyclists tend to be pretty eccentric. We buy all the right stuff...from the helmet to the shoes, and everything in between. We like to match, we like to look professional. We somehow convince ourselves that if we have all the right equipment, if we look good, we will somehow be faster and more successful riders.

While working her way up the mountain, she was slowly but steadily passed by some guy in tennis shoes. He had a big long beard and did not look the part. His bike was an old clunker, but there he went, right past my friend and on to the top of the mountain.

How is this possible? He wasn't dressed right, he wasn't riding the best bike, and he didn't have the latest computer gadgets on board. How could someone like that ride so well?

This is such an important lesson for us. We often get the idea in our heads that if we just have the right kind of music, the most eloquent speakers, and top of the line technology, we will somehow be a better church. But having all the right "stuff" is not the key to spiritual success. Living the right life is the key. Submission to Jesus Christ in everything. Prayer in everything is the key to being a successful church.

The same is true in our personal lives. We don't have to have all the right "stuff" before we can be effective for the kingdom of God. You don't need a seminary degree. You don't need to know everything about the Bible. You just need to know Jesus. Trust Him, follow Him, and obey His commands.

Stop relying on having the right "stuff". Instead focus on doing the right thing.