Journal May 10, 2021: Scott's TransAmerica Trek continues

General Observations

After two weeks, 13 days, of riding I have ridden 784 miles and climbed/descended more miles, over two mountain ranges, than I thought possible on the human body. It’s still early in my journey, but I have been so impressed and encouraged how God has shown up through people and places. It is good to have two of the twelve maps completed and to be due south of Cincinnati after riding 13 days. I am having to reassess my itinerary and the distance I can ride each day based on the terrain and weather. 

Passing through the tiniest of rural communities via bicycle and talking with the neighbors has been a delight and education. While I see routinely the work of the Holy Spirit in Greater Cincinnati via the Lord’s Gym Ministries, I am reminded of the depth and breadth of His omnipresence in the lives of people I am meeting and experiencing their kindness. Some things do not change – in one town, where I met a music teacher who works with youth, he told me about the pervasive drug problem with kids who learned the behavior from parents and grandparents. He called it an epidemic. The theme would be repeated with other communities I rode through. As a result, people have been receptive to hearing about the Lord’s Gym Ministries and the Youth Resiliency Adventure. 

 

The mountains, to me, are a unique place to live and etch out a living. Conversely, I imagine mountaineers would say the same thing about me not living in the mountains. Hanging out at my first of many hostels with a cast of eclectic Appalachian Trail hikers I was awarded my trail name of “Spokes”.  It’s a fun story that deserves more text. 

Also impressive is God’s timing as His Spirit watches over me with each day’s provision, especially during a very cold and wet week at elevation in the mountains of Appalachia.

Lastly, I have to add the privilege of beholding God’s handiwork in His physical creation of Virginia and Kentucky. So far stunning vistas, valleys, farms, and streams. I can only imagine what week 3 will have in store for me to experience.

How God showed up

  1. I had some bike repair issues at the beginning of the week that affected the bike’s stability. However, in my repair kit I found the items (spare bolt and Velcro) that corrected the situation. 
  1. Wednesday brought a drop in temps as I was climbing through mountains. Then it Started to rain, sleet, and snow. Temp dropped to low – mid 30s according to attendant at gas station where I had to stop to warm up after hours of riding in it. Forecast was for rain lasting an hour. I still had two significant climbs. At the top of the second climb, at about 3,700 ft, there was snow, which a hiker later verified. He and his team were caught in it hiking the AT (Appalachian Trail). Hypothermic conditions for sure if I did not act. The route and weather were too unpredictable to chance continued riding. A short day in the saddle and somewhat of a delay in my mind. I had to remind myself that God is in control here and His itinerary. According to Enneagram enthusiasts, this is hard for 1’s to accept since they lean towards the perfectionist side and like to be in control of the outcomes. My Intended destination was shelved, instead riding/climbing another 8 miles to Troutdale Baptist Church’s Hostel for Hikers and Bikers. 

Got to get a hot shower and dry my clothes. One of my dear supporters purchased a compression bag for me. I used it to pack and stow my Down-filled jacket just in case the temperature dropped. It was 28 degrees the following morning. 

Throughout the rest of the week, as my itinerary changed daily, God provided a church bikers’ hostel for me to spend the night in and get out of the cold temps. PTL. 

Really impressed how God has orchestrated my accommodations, especially through churches with hostels. One Methodist church, 1788, left instructions on the door and the church unlocked. For 40 years it has operated this ministry in such a trustworthy fashion. I sort of felt like the guy who was beaten and taken to the Inn in the story of the Good Samaritan. In this case, it was a church showing unconditional love and trust to complete strangers. Oh yeah, you could help yourself to whatever food was in the fridge, freezer, or pantry – which I did. What was also nice about these very timely and uniquely located shelters, was that they were available during a cold snap when camping would have made my situation all the more challenging. I was warm and dry for most of week 2. 

  1. In Elkhorn City, I met the Mayor, Mike Taylor, and he let me sleep in City Hall where he has permitted other cyclists to do the same for the last 15 years. When I met him, he was cleaning the building and preparing care bags of food and materials for people in his community. COVID-19, it seems to me, only exacerbated communities with an already struggling economy. His leadership impressed me along with his servant heart as mayor. I asked him about it, and he said God has blessed him to be a blessing to others. 

     

  2. Upon leaving Elkhorn City I met another person, David, traveling the trail and later in the morning I met a husband-and-wife team too. We all rode together to Hindman where we spent the night in a church hostel. David and I rode onto Paint Lick just 10 miles west of Berea, Ky where Betsy was waiting. David, a trainer and endurance athlete, was able to coach me and suggest raising my bike seat to get more extension out of my legs for climbing. He helped me with breathing technique too for those steep and never-ending climbs. His advice was a God send. As we rode together, I learned he was a believer. As we rode, we talked and prayed.  In one town, he felt led to get off his bike and pray for an old church and the community. Later, in Booneville, we would meet the pastor whose family went to that church.

We have now all separated due to separate agendas, and I will resume a solo ride tomorrow on Wednesday. Since we are all about a day apart it’s my prayer that we reconnect on the trail as it is such a joy to ride together. 

5. Many of these back roads have been narrow with minimal to no shoulder. Kentucky has the added distraction of loose dogs who do not know how to welcome friendly cyclists. (If they chase me, I give them a blast from an air horn I am carrying. Seems to be working.) So, I am grateful for God’s traveling mercies and ask for your continued prayers. 

Take-A-Ways week two

1. God is amazing and has shown me considerable grace and mercy.

2. The Holy Spirit is at work in the most remote places.

3. Kindness and generosity are two powerful attributes of the body of Christ.

PS – My Garmin devices get confused, especially my watch. After a long day of rigorous riding in the mountains of Virginia it still tells me to get up and move if I sit too long during a rest stop. However, both my watch and navigation device still send me encouraging comments and congratulatory graphics. 

Blessings and Stand Firm,

Scott