Journal May 27, 2021: Feeling grateful

Take-a-ways 

1 – You can learn A LOT from other riders. 

2 – Make it a point to talk to strangers and ask them how they are doing. They are on a journey too.

3 – Addiction is precedent everywhere, even in the most rural parts of America.

4 – Listen to your senses, God may be trying to get your attention. 

5 – Calves are kind of cute.

How God showed up

1. Meeting and riding with Scott W. from Columbus, Ohio, after having ridden with David and Sam in weeks 2 and He has walked the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Northwest area. He knows a thing or two about this lifestyle. His awesome wife, Mary, joined us a few days ago, via car, and is following us. She plans to drive and meet us every day at the end. Her support provides an added measure of safety and encouragement as we prepare to trek across Kansas and Colorado with less available shelter on the route. I also got to meet two lovely people, Mike, and Mary, from his church who took some of their vacation to meet up with Scott and follow him for a few days.

2. The cooler temps made for better climbing. Peddling the Ozarks seems like continuous up and downs. Had it been as hot as the previous week it would have been even harder.

3. Protecting us while riding some very busy back roads over Memorial Day weekend.

4. I made a wrong turn, and I sensed something very quickly that it did not seem right. I stopped and rechecked my bearings on the map and sure enough I was off course. I had gone less than a quarter mile, so I was very thankful. I really think it was God heightening my senses to hit my pause button and recheck my heading. I am trying to better recognize such senses as there have been others too.

Overview from week 4 on the TransAm

Leaving Carbondale, Illinois with a fully functional bike was a great start to the week. The climbing leading into the Ozarks necessitated the lower gear range. Arriving in Chester, home of Popeye the Sailor man fame, I caught up with Scott W., a retired IT exec from Honda, where we decided to ride together. I found I was learning a lot from him just watching him approach the rigors of bike camping. The guy was a tried-and-true hiker of the AT and Pacific NW. His spirit and internal clock were hardened to living the salty trail life. He and his wife, who arrived later, have been very gracious in permitting me to ride along. There is a solid benefit in riding in pairs from safety to encouragement. After each solid day of climbing, we fist bump and hi-five in celebrating the day’s achievement. We thank God for His traveling mercies, our stamina, lodging, and for the numerous people who are praying for us.

The Ozarks are the third mountain range we must cross. The Appalachian Mountains, in Virginia and Eastern Kentucky, had steep, long, and recurring grades to negotiate. I did my share of walking my bike up some of them. Hey, it’s the forward progress that counts. Also, the dogs were a very real threat that stopped in their tracks at the sound of my bear horn. The Ozarks, while not as consistently steep, are brutally repetitive seasoned with some more gentle rolling flats. Letting Mary carry our gear in her car made the last third of crossing the Ozarks more tolerable. I have said that I am more curious as to how the Rockies will feel on our legs and lungs.

As I have met other westbound riders, I try to capture their phone numbers and then text everyone every other day to check in. Our little traveling text community has become helpful in sharing tips on where to stay and how people are doing. The four levels I talked about last week are so evident. One of the two young women who were traveling together had to depart temporarily due to a family emergency. The remaining woman, Lauren, was able to text the group and catch up to another rider.

After one month of riding, I sense my spirit, mind, body, and heart crossing a very, yet unexplainable, threshold as we prepare to crossover into what is referred to as the middle third of the TA. The first third brought an in-your-face welcome and orientation period to awaken, or reawaken, your senses. Seeing the beauty, topography, and sometimes despair of the ruralist parts of America from the saddle of a bicycle is a memorable experience. I am in heaven when I get to pause and capture an image with my iPhone 11. (I only wish I could have brought my better camera gear and could spend more time stopping for shots.). But I will take it, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be out here and have one month of riding under my belt. 

I am so very grateful to my FOCAS/Lord’s Gym Ministries board and staff who are permitting me this time away; and I am so very grateful to the generosity of those who invested in this experience for me. It’s also wonderful that I get to bring awareness to our ministry and fundraising event, the Youth Resiliency Adventure which people are responding to. They are taking photos of my Jersey. I pray that you will too by checking out the website, www.YRAdventure.com and share within your social media network AFTER you have taken the 21n21 challenge for me.

Until next week. Stand firm.

Scott