Sunday, 30 June 2013

Suspended.

Quartzsite, AZ
Well, you must all know by now, but the tour has been temporarily suspended. Tuesday morning we will resume our normal route from Payson, Arizona. The desert southwest is experiencing record temperatures- one expects the desert to be hot, but not THIS hot. It's national news, and those in power decided that it would be best to not continue. Thursday evening Al broke the news to us after supper. The relief in the room was almost palpable. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday many riders found they could not continue. Calls for help ensued and our SAG teams were running all over picking up cyclists and bikes and bringing them into camp. In Quartzsite we were blessed to be allowed to sleep on the floor of the local community centre. We spent much of the afternoon juggling the bikes from one side of the building to the other as the shade migrated. I have lost count of how many tires have exploded from being left in the heat and sun.

Friday morning dawned bright and early. Because we didn't have to ride that day, we tried to sleep in but, having been on the road by 5 am for the last few days, most of us were unable to sleep past 6:00. So, by 8 we had all eaten breakfast, packed our gear into trucks and were sitting around waiting for the time to head out on our journey to Payson. We amused ourselves by playing cards, hoola-hooping, jumping rope, and discovering hidden talents. Without the weight of riding in the heat hanging over our heads, many cyclists relaxed and a real sense of community has developed in the last few days. We loaded our gear bags into the gear truck, filled a bus with cyclists, packed the SAG vehicles, and left for Payson around 10:00. For the next five and a half hours, a few wonderful volunteers gently packed all our bikes into two transport trailers. So, for the last three days we have been relaxing about 4,000 ft higher in altitude and the temperature is only in the low 40s! Saturday morning we were able to participate in a Habitat for Humanity service project. We split into two groups and worked in shifts in the heat. Together we nearly completed the scraping and painting of the exterior of Dave's house. It was so much fun to help others but also so nice to have something to fill our days.

During the afternoons, most of us will find a coffee shop or someplace with air conditioning to hole up out of the heat. Yesterday I bought a day pass at a local gym and lifted weights for a couple of hours. My main reason for going to the gym though was to use the shower. Our camp has no shower facilities so getting clean- especially after scraping paint off a house all morning- is difficult.

Today is Sunday. I went to a Lutheran church this morning and joined them for lunch after the service.  It was wonderful to meet fellow believers and to share with them what Sea to Sea is all about. Tomorrow most of the cyclists are hoping to go on a short ride to keep our muscles working. I will be staying in camp as I have a muscle in my shin acting up. It hurts while walking but thankfully, has not affected my cycling yet. It is an overuse injury in the anterior tibialis. So I'm spending a lot of time with my leg up, wrapped and iced. We have a lot of gimps around camp these days. It's kind of funny to see how many of use are working through some kind of injury. Even if you're not hurt, many have very swollen feet- we think it's the result of the heat. But the attitude of the camp is very positive. So many have stepped up to help out - whether in shuttling us around town or helping make supper. In the last few days the decision to suspend the tour has been affirmed over and over. I am thankful our leaders had the wisdom to take advice.

Please continue to pray for safety, strength and wisdom. Blessings!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Blessing in Adversity

As I last wrote, we are learning that with adversity comes blessing. And yes, although we have been dealing with a lot of adversity, we are also dealing with innumerable blessings. Yesterday, we trekked on the I-10 through Colorado. We learned in camp that the Colorado government had sent a sweeper over our route the day before to clear the debris. What amazing consideration! Yesterday, when we arrived in Desert Centre we found a seasonal town (this is where the snowbirds come in the winter). We were able to stay at a Country Club that had a pool and pond. The volunteers there went above and beyond letting us sleep inside in the AC, making icees for us all to eat, and keeping our spirits up.

True to form, the locals are amazed that we are attempting this trek, but the awareness we are raising is incredible. People stop and wonder what compels people to ride 100-150 km every day in mid-40 degree temperatures. And we can tell them what is so important that we are risking life and limb to be out here. I can now better understand the plight of the poor. Even in this heat we have an escape route. If we need to we can call for help and we will be rescued. But those in need don't have the option. They plug away day after day hoping for a breakthrough so they can survive. In the same way we plug away day after day from one stop to the next. A poor comparison I know, but worth a try.

Another blessing is our kitchen crew. They don't get to call for a SAG Wagon if the heat gets to be too much. And the kitchen trailer gets REALLY hot! The food that they prepare for us has been phenomenal! For breakfast I have been eating two packets of instant oatmeal and a big cup of orange juice. I typically take a sandwich, two cheese strings, and two granola bars, along for lunch. At SAG stops I eat at least two pieces of fruit and I refill water. For supper I eat what I'm served (so delicious!), but there's so much food that it typically takes me 40 minutes to eat it. By the time I'm done, I am absolutely sick of chewing, but my belly is full... at least for a few hours. 

It is amazing the number of calories we burn. No matter how much we eat, we loose weight. There are some cyclists who can afford to loose a few pounds, but there are some who are those typical skinny Dutch boys. Obviously, they have absolutely nothing to loose. We have started “The Biggest Looser” on the tour. Each week, those who are interested weigh themselves and we see who has lost the most weight- without trying of course. It will be fun to see who looses weight. Of course, we have the group of young guys who are trying to gain a pound- to them I say, “good luck!”

Supper!
I am sitting in a quiet corner in the senior's center here in Quartzsite listening to the conversations around me. While still quite upbeat, there is a sense of anxiety to most voices. The intensity of our ride has hit and we are doing their best to raise the spirits of those who are struggling. And, I have to admit I am struggling to keep a tight reign on my mental stamina. This trip is 90% mental and 10% physical. The physical side is important, no doubt, but if you let your mind start to talk down to you saying, “oh, it's so hot!” “that hill is high, you can't make it.” “You're slowing down, you'll never make it to camp before the heat hits.” The list goes on. I can't tell you how many times I have caught my mind trying to go there. And I know from my experience on the last tour that I cannot let that happen. When climbing hills I have tried something new. I have taped to my handlebars parts of the book of Philippians. I am trying to memorize a piece a day. When I focus on learning the passage, I forget about how slow I'm going or about the fact that I'm falling behind the cyclist in front. It has been a godsend so far. It's tough to memorize when in a pace line, but when you're all alone on a climb, it's a great way to occupy the mind.
Apple at a SAG stop

Overall, all I can do is praise the Lord. He has kept us safe. He has kept us alert and healthy. He has brought out the best in people so that the towns we pass through have been incredibly generous. Places that would not let us sleep inside are opening their doors and businesses we pass are donating water and ice for our SAG stops.

I am comforted to know that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. He will look after my coming and going, both now and forevermore. I know that even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faith. Amen and amen. Praise the Lord for his goodness and providence!


The Desert: Up Close and Personal

Crossing into Arizona
I left with a group of seven cyclists at 5:05 this morning and arrived 127.34 km down the road in Quartzsite, Arizona. People, this IS the time to cover this tour in prayer! Dozens of cyclists were driven into camp today. The heat hits so many. If you do not get out of camp early and are not able to keep up quite a fast pace, the heat quickly catches up to you. For obvious reasons this causes you to slow down, over heat and loose your mental and physical stamina. The roads were rough and many blew tires. For about 15 km every three feet a raised crack gave us a very much unwanted butt massage. A gentleman in my pace line touched tires with the rider in front of him and went down on the side of the I-10, taking out the woman behind him. Both are fine but are sporting some nice road rash. Two days ago a woman fell and sprained her thumb. She left today with the intention of visiting the hospital on her way through town... turns out she fractured it. She's going to take some time off to rest up and get the swelling down. 

I cannot stress how serious this situation is. Our nurses are stressing hydration like it could prevent death and, not to be morbid, I am learning that proper hydration can prevent death. Before setting out from LA on Monday, our nurse- Bev said, “You could die in the desert. You could die in the desert. You could die in the desert.” Cycling by such desolate territory where the landscape consists of cacti and sand, I am starting to believe Bev. If I'm not careful, I really could die in the desert. I have done my best to be diligent in keeping my core temperature down. I wear a long-sleeved shirt under a sleeveless biking jersey. I soak both as often as possible- either in cold water or ice water. I have tied a bandana around my neck and I put ice cubes in it as often as I can. I have started carrying a third water bottle in my back pocket to make sure that I drink enough. The support volunteers have been fantastic. There are not words to express how grateful I am for their help. They have vehicles riding up and down the route handing out water and cold cloths. At each SAG stop there is fruit, electrolytes, water and ice. The nurses here are diligent in checking to see if we are appropriately responsive and will immediately pull us off route if we seem confused or dizzy.

Today, when cyclists arrived in Quartzsite, we had a table set up. We plopped these new arrivals in a chair, covered their head and feet in cold cloths, and fed them chips, oranges and water. I enjoyed helping out with this. It was so great to feel useful! 


We have two more days of serious cycling until we reach Phoenix. You know how a desert is not defined by the temperature but by the lack of water? Well, this desert is HOT! Today it was over 40 degrees by 11 AM. Last night lights out was 8 PM and the camp was packed up and moving by 6:15AM this morning. A wonderful man from Desert Centre- we call him Phil's angel- volunteered to drive his truck behind the cyclists and act as a sweep team. This allowed the sweep team to pack up the truck and then ride like mad to beat the heat. Normally, they would have to stay behind the last cyclists and wait for them to reach camp. In this heat, that is simply unwise. I cannot express how grateful we all are for Phil's angel. We started pulling cyclists off the road at noon and all cyclists are now it at 2PM.

Last night at pelaton, Al mentioned that the tour is working to prepare emergency measures if the temperatures get too high to cycle safely. I don't know what this means exactly, but I think it is very wise. Next week, I am told, we are cycling through Wolf Creek Pass. I learned yesterday that this pass has been closed because it is now on fire. I am unsure at this point if we will be rerouted or what the plan is.

Well, I think you get the idea. Hopefully, you have a clearer idea of how to pray for us. But please keep our tour director- Al DeKock in your prayers as he is in charge of making a lot of decisions. Also, pray for our nurses as they are being worked very hard. And finally pray for safety, wisdom, and endurance. It is so difficult for a cyclist, after training and fundraising for a year, to make the decision to ride into camp. It does such a number on one's pride. I can tell you that your prayers are making a difference. Community has grown here like you wouldn't believe. Strangers have become friends and are going to extremes to ensure everyone arrives safely.


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Desert



I am now in Desert City, CA. Temperature: 113 degrees Fahrenheit. I left at 5:30 this morning in an attempt to beat the heat and, with 30 km of climbing and a tail wind, we flew the 100 km down the road to arrive by 10am. I praise the Lord for the opportunity to get into camp early before the head winds start and the heat really hits.
Terry portages his bike through the fence to the bike path

Yesterday I was not able to get on the road until around 8 am. By 10 AM I had applied sunscreen 4 times and still felt like I was burning ... so I bought a long-sleeved shirt. It has come in handy, at rest stops I drench my shirt and dunk my head in ice water, and that lasts for a few kilometres. I am trying to remember to drink a lot and to eat as much as possible to stay ahead of the heat.

Ironically, we are working our way to Phoenix during a heat wave. Dozens of cyclists have been struggling. If there ever was a time to pray, now's the time. Many are having to be driven into camp. On Monday a cyclists broke his foot and he and his wife are out of the tour. There have been multiple falls and flats these last couple of days. The heat is unimaginable and those cyclists who were struggling to begin with- such as with the distance or the heat - are really having a hard time. 

But I am having a great time. I am doing my best to not worry about the heat or about tomorrow- this summer has already been a great lesson in Luke 12- "do not worry about tomorrow." The tour is raising a lot of questions and people are asking what we are doing. We are handing out business cards and telling everyone what we are up to. It has been really neat to spread the word and to see people's reactions. In fact, I have great conversations in public bathrooms! I think the women think I'm crazy, but that's okay. It is true that there have been some serious challenges thus far, but overall I have felt God's protection as so far I have been safe.

Last night and tonight we have been allowed to sleep indoors- that has been a blessing in disguise ... except for the spider that ran across my back last night ... I had to take a minor break from my sleep to kill that thing - There was no was I was going to get back to sleep with him crawling around!


Life is good. I am enjoying the challenges I come across and am blessed to feel that I am growing spiritually as well as physically. Please pray seriously as the conditions are terribly difficult. But we are learning that blessings definitely do come through adversity. Blessings!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Tire Dipping

I find that I am at a loss to describe the state of my emotions ... but I will do my best because I am sure you want to hear all about our tire dipping today! ... I am sitting in my sparse dorm room preparing for our first day of riding tomorrow.

Opening festivities began after lunch with a celebration service at 2. Wonderful worship, visiting attendees from surrounding churches, fantastic speakers, and testimonials combined to make a moving opening to our nine-week journey. The highlight of this service was the benediction. My favourite part of any service is the benediction not because it signals the close of church, but because it is God's sending us out in His service. And today, we had a benediction in three languages! Dutch, Chinese, and English. I found it wonderful to have a visible and audible reminder of the uniqueness and unity of the body of Christ.

From the celebration service we donned our biking jerseys and prepped for our trek to the beach. We were informed that we were riding to the beach in pelaton formation. This means that we bunch up and ride close together, running red lights, and basically taking over the road. We were able to do this as we had two motorcycles leap-frogging their way from intersection to intersection stopping traffic for us. Of course, this being LA we drew quite an interested crowd. Some were frustrated at being stopped, but most just stared wondering who these people were.

Us cyclists felt somewhat prepared for this journey in the close quarters of a pelaton as we had all gone through safety training this morning. Safety training consisted of swerving around a rock, weaving between pylons, checking for and performing a left turn and doing an emergency stop. I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge ... but we discovered that emergency stops are tricky. An emergency stop is essentially that: you go as fast as you can and then stop as fast as you can by the line drawn on the road. This manoeuvre prepares us for the inevitable car door that opens in our path or pedestrian that steps out into the road without looking... you get the idea. Well, after the first couple of riders did the safety check, we discovered that these emergency stops possessed an extra challenge. Because we stop so suddenly, many of us did not have time to unclip our shoes from the pedals before we stopped moving and lost our balance. We would stop as quickly as we could on the white line, be proud of our stopping accomplishment, and then suddenly realize that our feet were still attached to the pedals wobble a little and topple over. To be honest, a cyclist looks hilarious when this happens (despite how serious we could be injured). True to form, we quickly adapted, bandaged minor scrapes and damaged pride and appointed two “catchers.” Their role was to stand on either side of the Stop Line and catch those of us who lost our balance before being able to unclip. Adaptable? Why yes, we are!


Okay, you probably want to hear all about our trek to the beach. Well, we learned that riding and holding up traffic is quite fun. I think most cyclists take a sort of perverted pleasure when we occasionally have more power than vehicles. But be calm- we were very courteous. We waved and thanked those cars that stopped and greeted those pedestrians who were staring. Arriving at the beach after a 10 km journey through downtown LA we took off socks and shoes and carried our bikes over the sand to the water. Amidst the chaos we snapped quick pictures of ourselves in the infamous Pacific before we were organized by bullhorn into a straight, single-file line with our back tire in the Ocean. And this is no easy feat believe me. The beach in LA in June is packed and sunbathers and swimmers and surfers alike were shocked to find over 100 spandex-clad cyclists invading their space. In about 20 minutes we had snapped a few group pictures, avoided getting salt water on our bike's mechanisms, and had circled up to pray. We prayed for safety, logistics, physical health, and for our cause to be spread. We closed our short time at the beach singing “Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow.” What a wonderful experience. All I can say is "To God be the glory!" 

We are as prepared for tomorrow's ride as we can be. We have 108.7 km to ride into Redlands, California and have been assured of beautiful weather and a tailwind. We shall see if that happens. I have volunteered to run sweep tomorrow with Larry and Terry. This means that we leave last and arrive in camp last helping to ensure that everyone arrives safely. 
Well, that's all for now. We are ready to get going ... THE TIME HAS ARRIVED!

Some quick stats:
Today's max speed: 46.4 km/hr
Today's distance: 19.27 km
Total Odometer: 13308.4km
6 Flats in the group





The Difference

On the long journey of preparation and training that has brought me to this day, I have been incredibly aware of the hand of God in Sea to Sea - donations from people I have never met, persons paying for my flights, bike shops donating services and rushing my bike through the repair line up so I could get back in the saddle, safety through accidents ... I could go on and on, but I want to share yet another example of how the Sea to Sea tour is a fantastic witness of the work of God through His church.

When checking out of my motel room yesterday I was stopped by a middle-aged African American man. Bill. "Where you headin'?" he asked me.
"New York."
He stopped dead and I just had to laugh at the expression on his face. He almost dropped his coffee. As our conversation continued, we talked everything from school to family to home. When he learned that we were a "church group" working to raise awareness of and funds for the plight of those stuck in the cycle of poverty, he praised our Lord.

I was reminded yet again what an incredible opportunity God has afforded us in Sea to Sea. People stop and ask, "what in the world are you people doing?" And they listen, fascinated by the stories of our journey up to this point. Bill is headed home to Florida, and with him goes the knowledge of some 200 fellow brothers and sisters in Christ following the call of God to step out in faith to help others.

And you want to know what makes this story even more incredible? It doesn't end here. Six hours after my chat with Bill, I was approached by Joyce when she biked in from a Walmart excursion to pick up their tent. She sounded a tad confused when she said, "I met this African American man outside Walmart. He said that he had met a girl named Christeena earlier this morning at his motel." Seven miles from this motel, Bill ran into some fellow cyclists and Bonita, Harvey and Joyce were able to continue spreading the word of our cause. Is it not crazy how our Lord works?


Well, last night was our first official meeting as a group of support staff and cyclists. We talked everything from pace lines to tire tipping to hydration. And what was driven home for me yet again is this: Our work is only half done. We have been called as a body of Christ to minister to those in need through this tour and yes, much has been done to raise awareness and funds up to this point. But the real work has just begun. We are reflectors of the image and glory of Christ. When we are sweating our way through Arizona next week and struggling against exhaustion and pain, even then the country and the world will be watching.

And so I beg of you friends, family, and brothers and sisters in the church, do not think that our work is done. The word we are stressing on this tour is community. And you too are part of this community. Your prayers; support; words of encouragement; and donations of time, food, and money make a difference. The humble work we do in the name of Christ, God uses to make a difference. Bill is a prime example of the hand of God.

Grade 6 at Victorious Primary School in Tata, Uganda
I think of my students in Uganda and Kenya. I remember their lack of physical comforts. Many had no shoes, worked before and after a 12 hour school day, and fulfilled the parental role in the lives of multiple siblings. But I also remember their incredible faith, joy, and hope in the Lord. Their hope and faith was almost tangible and my small mustard-sized faith has been humbled. I learned more from those 22 wonderful children than I taught them.

The organizations we are working to support (Partner's Worldwide, World Renew and the RCA) are fantastic and, having seen the work they do, I am so excited to be walking alongside them in this venture. So, please pray for this trip. Pray that God uses our meager efforts to benefit His kingdom and to help those in need. And finally, please consider giving to this cause. Our work is not yet done. God is a “father to the fatherless, a defender of widows” (Psalm 68:5) We as the reflectors of Christ must too be defenders and providers. Thank you for your support thus far and please continue to follow along and cover this tour in prayer because God is making a difference with Sea to Sea. Blessings.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

First Official Day of Sea to Sea 2013

And what an incredible few days it has been! Alice, Clarence and I arrived in Los Angeles Wednesday evening, picked up our rental car, and battled rush hour traffic 40 miles to our motel. Thursday our to do list included the following: visiting the beach, dropping off our rental car, exploring the university and swimming in the pool. After about 10 km of walking we had accomplished our list and then some.


When we arrived at the university we discovered that the kitchen truck had already arrived from Grand Rapids. We met Hank, the driver, and his wife Chris. Alice was given the grand tour of all the kitchen truck's gadgets and has decided that she has a lot of learning to do- I know that she will be a quick study!

Back at the motel we found that Karel had arrived safe and sound and together we all had a nice dinner and went to bed early to recover from our jet-lag.

Yesterday (Friday) dawned with the arrival of dozens of cyclists at Vanguard University and a growing sense of anticipation filling the air. I saw familiar face after familiar face and I cannot describe the excitement that filled me all day long! I spent hour after hour flitting from one conversation to the next, catching up on the five years since the last tour.

Looking around at all our fellow cyclists, jet-lagged and working to find their place, I recognized many of the same emotions I felt in 2008 when I arrived in Seattle, inexperienced and terrified of what I had gotten myself into. I remember arriving at registration exhausted and finding myself amid a sea of unfamiliar faces. I felt so insecure but did my best to look like I knew what I was doing. Yet the family of Sea to Sea absorbed that 18-year-old girl and made her feel right at home. They took care of me like I was their own. They set up my tent when I was on sweep, bought me snacks, and hugged and encouraged me. With their help, and the Lord's, I made it across the continent that first time, one pedal stroke at a time- despite my apprehension and struggles.

It is my prayer that I would have the same energy to make others feel just as at home, to welcome them into the family of Sea to Sea and to soothe their worries.

Today promises to be a long day (although ironically much cooler than it is at home). I will spend some time working on our celebrations, organizing my belonging into their new home (two laundry baskets in the gear truck), officially registering, welcoming new arrivals, and nursing the sore throat that I picked up overnight. Tonight all the cyclists will be participating in a three hour safety class but until then are free to explore and get to know each other.

I ask that you would remember us in your prayers- without prayer this tour would not be happening. Please pray for health and healing as Clarence and I are now both battling colds. Pray for calm as many cyclists are unnerved and feel unprepared for the days ahead (myself included). Also please pray for the Sea to Sea community to quickly develop and for everyone to feel like they belong. Word has been spreading quickly about our cause and what we crazy people are doing here in LA. It has been a real blessing to see and experience!

We thank God for all of you and for your incredible support. We covet your prayers. Love and blessings, Christeena

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

On the Road Again

Well everyone, this is it. Tomorrow I leave from Detroit to fly to Los Angeles. For the next nine weeks I will be sleeping in my tent, living in the great outdoors, and biking about 114 kilometres every day. I know what a physical challenge this is going to be because I've done this trip before. For this reason I'm both excited and terrified. 
I was told the other day that choosing to do Sea to Sea again is like choosing to go through childbirth a second time- the closer the due date the more you remember the pain (I've never given birth). I am beginning to remember the knee pain, the neck pain, the sunburns, the heat, the sore butt... I am beginning to remember it all, but I also am beginning to remember the good things. I remember the joy of meeting new people, the absolute pure bliss of sleeping at night, the delicious food, the excitement of speeding down a mountain, and the contentment of being completely physically exhausted.
This Saturday, all the cyclists are arriving at Vanguard University where we will register and meet each other. On Sunday we will have safety training, a celebration with the cyclists, and dip our tires in the Pacific Ocean to kick off our journey. The next morning we leave on our first day of the ride to Redlands, California (109 km). After a week of riding we will have covered 678 kilometres and will spend the weekend in in Phoenix, Arizona. 
All of us will spend the week working to find our place in the community and to establish a routine.
Love you all! Thanks for remembering us in your prayers, and I'll do my best to keep you all updated,

Christeena

Mail

If you feel so called, you can send me mail. There are four mail drops along the route. If you send mail to one of these addresses with my name on it, I will get it when I arrive in that town:
1. Saturday, July 6: Sea to Sea- (Rider's Name) c/o Bethel CRC, PO Box 10, Shiprock, NM 87420
2. Saturday, July 27: Sea to Sea- (Rider's Name) c/o Sylvan Addink, 1802 E. Court Street, Iowa City, IA 52245
3.Saturday, Aug. 3: CRCNA - Sea to Sea (Rider's Name), Attn: Luanne Barnes, 2850 Kalamazoo Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49560
4. Saturday, Aug 10: CRCNA- Sea to Sea- (Rider's Name), 3475 Mainway, PO Box 5070 STN LCD1, Burlington ONT L7R 3Y8

It is so exciting to receive mail! So, if you have the time, please send a small note. Emails would be fantastic too if snail mail isn't your thing: christeena.nienhuis@gmail.com. Even facebook messages are amazing! Anything to encourage and remind me that God is in control is so appreciated!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Sadly, I am not invincible ...

This week was a lesson in humility. I began a solid training schedule and, with accountability, was able to keep to it all week.

Tuesday I left on a routine 45 kilometre interval ride between rainstorms. 500 metres away from home I turned the corner of Exmouth and Murphy, a corner that I have ridden countless times, at my normal speed ... next thing I know I've hit the asphalt hard. I land on my right hip and elbow and continue sliding on my belly, feet first, across the lane with my bike leading the way.

I have no idea how this happened but, it being rush hour, dozens of cars were lined up waiting to turn the corner. Me, thinking I was invincible and forgetting how slick asphalt is in rain, ended up sliding around the corner on my belly in front of way too many witnesses.

Now, when I ride, I find that I can't ride slowly, particularly on the home stretch. So, at this point I'm flying along at around 32 km/hr. I'm gasping for breath and my heart is beating like a drum. The impact with the asphalt knocked the wind out of me but, with the help of adrenaline and complete and total embarrassment, I got up off the road in record time, made sure my bike was still roadworthy and was off for home.

The bruising on my right leg
On the way, I started hyperventilating because of the shock, my already breathless state and having had the wind knocked out of me. Not only that, but my right hip was on fire and didn't want to function. After a short time I made it home and was all patched up.

Lesson for the road: accidents happen when we become comfortable and think that we can handle it all on our own ...

I am now safely recovering, my bike's wheels are all back in true and I am admiring the beautiful colouring of my bruises.