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!”
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!