With two weeks down on the Cycling for Recovery Mission, I finally had a moment long enough to capture the experiences of the first eight hundred miles cycling across the country. I have traveled from Santa Monica to Albuquerque over much of I-40 and old Route 66. While there have been many experiences, the following are the twelve I could readily and easily list as most memorable:
- Touring LA: My first day of the journey was a 90-mile jaunt from Santa Monica to San Bernardino. This ride took me through Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Chinatown, Pasadena, and Claremont to name a few. It was the most enjoyable ride through LA ever.
- Amboy, CA: Few will ever know how hard it was to ride to Amboy, CA from Barstow, CA on day 3. There was a stretch of road that was so rough that I could hardly ride my bike. After pushing through the heat, the headwind, the bad road, and the 83 miles, I finally made it to Amboy, CA in the middle of the Mohave Desert.
- Swimming the Colorado: After three days of 100 degree, five hour rides in the desert nothing hit the spot more than a dip in the 72 degree Colorado River. It cured all my aches and pains.
- Donkeys running wild: I had no idea that in the middle of nowhere in Oatman, AZ that donkeys freely roam the city streets. Well, they do. Throughout my twenty mile, two thousand foot climb, I saw virtually zero vehicles. Imagine my surprise as I limped into Oatman to discover a town alive with tourists everywhere photographing donkeys standing in the middle of the streets.
- Four Wheeling: Even though the sign said “road closed,” I was convinced we could get around that. I encouraged Mark to drive the vehicle around both “road closed” signs until we found ourselves in the middle of a muddy, flooded wash. Thankfully, the sheriff who was standing there didn’t give us a ticket, instead he offered directions for getting around the closure and returning to the route.
- Tackling a steep, challenging climb: I often wondered what it was like to ride a steep 7% grade with switchbacks like those cyclists on the Tour de France do. Mine wasn’t nearly as long or any steeper than 7%. But, I did tackle a pretty long, slow climb of 20 miles and 2,000 feet which ended with a 2 mile, 7% push. Feeling pretty proud of the accomplishment and tired, too.
- Standing on a corner in Winslow, AZ: It was all downhill and fast from Flagstaff to Winslow. When we got there, we stopped past the most touristy part. As we parked, Robert came out to greet us. Seeing the signage on the van, he knew exactly what we were there for. We talked Jesus and Recovery and he offered us his blessings for our journey. So far, this interaction has been the most memorable highlight of the trip.
- “You made my day”: My fortune cookie at dinner said “you will make someone’s day.” We stopped at a gas station for ice in Grants, AZ and decided to have an ice cream cone there, as well. While placing our order a woman was standing behind us and we offered to buy her cone. She was overjoyed, gave each of us a hug, and said “you made my day.” Happy we were there for her. (not pictured)
- Petrified Forest: I have driven by the Petrified Forest exit dozens of times, not realizing how close or how cool this park could be. Tooling through the Forest and the Painted Desert was an extra special treat and quite a surprise.
- Yvonne: When my wife volunteered to drive the support vehicle for week two, I didn’t know what to expect. Turns out we had a wonderful week, she was incredibly efficient and supportive while I was riding, and we got to spend some quality alone time that we haven’t had in several years. While it was a working vacation for both of us, this was a great week and an awesome adventure for both of us.
- Gallup newspaper: I was pretty excited when the reporter emailed me and wanted to cover me riding into town. As I drove into Gallup on Route 66 there was a photographer snapping pictures at different spots along the three miles I rode through Gallup. The interview, the photos, and the article were all very well done. Happy to know that Cycling for Recovery was getting some press.
- Knowing I was never alone: As I have shared earlier, we are taking a giant leap of faith with this underfunded journey. There are times where I know I have gotten way to caught up in the cost of the mission and not the opportunity and the calling with this ministry. The most beautiful aspect of this journey is that everywhere I turn, from the messages, the interactions, the experiences, the sights, or the words God shares with me, I know that He is with me, He too is encouraging me, and the strength I receive to push through the daily rides comes from Him working in my heart. It may not always be easy, but there is something powerful going on when I know God is behind this.
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