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.