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

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