After a delicious night's sleep in Red Cloud's beautiful and cool community centre, I yet again hit the road. My body longed to stay in bed and boycott that small triangular seat for the day, but one has to do what one has to do. So I dressed and mounted that metal steed. The rain yesterday threw many people off as belongings had scattered thither and yon in an attempt to dry them. It look me a little while to round up everything, but I was soon on the road.
The long days we rode this week have taken their toll on my body. Many, including myself, struggled today after our exhausting century ride yesterday. Every day this week was over 100 km, and that just wearies the body. After yesterday's heat, distance and lack of wind, we didn't quite know what to expect for today's ride. The elevation map showed long rolling hills however, and this time that map proved very trustworthy. All day long we puttered down one long descent only to gear down to climb the following hill. As we passed near the Oregon Trail, I couldn't help but empathize a little with those early settlers. How discouraging it must have been to finally crest a hill only to find yet another on the horizon. I too began to be discouraged. It felt like my legs had zero “get up and go” today. The ability to push that pedal seemed to have disappeared over the course of week to the extent that today, I resorted to using my granny gear on nearly every hill.
Right from kilometre one I was tired but I knew that I could rest for a day when I arrived so one pedal stroke after the other I strained through. My butt has gradually been giving up this week, all day long I felt like I was sitting on hot sand paper. The saddle sores are irritated by the constant pressure of the seat and no position proved comfortable. To cap it all off, we had a head wind as well. Normally in a head wind I would spend most of the day down in my drops or on my aerobars. Not so today, my crotch refused to handle the pressure of my body weight as I leaned forward. Therefore, unless absolutely necessary, I spent the entire day sitting up as far as possible, my body catching all the headwind it could. My quad muscles had been worked to the point that stretching them hurts. I cannot say this with more emphasis, “PRAISE GOD FOR SABBATHS!” The Lord knew what he was doing when he decreed we take a day off each week. What a wise God we serve!
I am confident that God had my back today because each time I neared the point of complete and total discouragement something would happen to keep me going. The first distraction from my pain came in the form of a crop-dusting plane... at least that's what I think was, but I'm no farmer. It was either a crop-duster or a happy-go-lucky pilot who liked to fly in continuous circles over a corn field ... my limited farming knowledge leads to me think it was a crop-duster. Well this little yellow plane would fly in sweeping circles over the highway I was cycling down. First one way, wheels nearly touching the corn, then up and around in a big arching circle to turn back the way he had come, up and over the powerlines and the road in an acrobatic arc and back down to dust yet another strip of corn. I amused myself watching the plane's smooth movements ... until the plane decided to play chicken with me!! The plane had finished and was on its way back to base but he must have seen me because he started flying the road, dipping down to the point that I thought he was going to land the plane on the road! He was heading straight for me! I tell you, I was seconds away from ditching the bike and hitting the dirt! At the last second he pulled up to avoid the power lines and off he flew. That small adrenaline rush pushed me through the next kilometres. And, as reason slowly returned I realized that he must have just wanted to scare me because his wingspan was too wide to land between the lines.
The one blessing all ride was the cloudy skies. From the moment I left this morning, the skies were clouded over and the sun was hidden. I thank the Lord for this blessing. Somewhere in the back of my mind I had made the connection that clouds could mean rain, but it didn't quite register until kilometre 110 when I could just make out the sound of thunder in the clouds above my head... it was difficult to hear over the headwind whistling past my ears, but when I saw the flash of lightening to my left I was sure it was going to rain. I had been struggling along, having a nice little yelling match at the sky, complaining about my breaking body and praying for some relief or burst of energy, when the skies began to burst. Huge, cold drops fell to the asphalt. When they hit my skin they fell like little pieces of gravel. The first storm lasted only five minutes, but my shoes had developed a puddle and my clothing stuck to my skin. Thankfully the rain cooled me off, but not to the point of being cold. Not only that, the work of keeping my eyes open amidst the onslaught of enormous raindrops kept my mind off the hills and the wind and the pain. And those five minutes of rain flew by and I was farther down the road! When I made it to kilometre 118 passing the “Welcome to Fairbury” sign just as the skies began to break for the second time. I road into camp dripping wet and praising God that I had made it. I know for sure that it was not my strength that got me into camp today... perhaps it was some of that good-ole Dutch stubbornness, but no, it was God. I prayed the entire way, reciting verses and reminding myself of the break I would get when I arrived.
|We left Kansas yesterday, finally found a sign...|
And the people of Fairbury have been nothing but wonderful. Since the rain continues to come and go- perhaps for the entire weekend- the police pulled some strings to get us access to their community centre. Yet again I get to sleep in air conditioned comfort. Thank God!
Some prayer requests: that this Sabbath would be a day of wonderful rest. A day in which muscles heal and strengthen, butts and crotches heal of their sores and are suddenly able to bear weight without pain, and emotions calm in our day of rest. And this leads me to my second request, it's more personal (although I don't know how you can get more personal than butt sores...)
I have developed the reputation of leaving camp early and arriving in that night's camp early. Apparently, this means I am super fast! Not only this but getting into camp early apparently equates being a strong rider and, as I found out today, being strong apparently means never struggling. I have had fellow cyclists while complaining about their muscle and body problems say, “oh, but Christeena never struggles with that!” I even had some go so far as to call me superhuman! Now, perhaps (and likely) my emotions are raw after six days of gruelling distances, but these comments hurt. I have no desire to be superhuman. I have no desire or drive to get into camp first. I just so happens that my drive to get to camp early and rest results in me often arriving first. This isn't a competition but the first question out of everyone's mouth when they see me showered and set up when they arrive is, “when'd you get in?” And that's all fine and dandy, but I too find our rides difficult. I am not, repeat NOT, any more special or skilled than anyone else on this tour. So prayers for understanding; empathy; and emotional and spiritual rest would be very much appreciated. While the community of Sea to Sea is wonderful, and I absolutely love being a part of it, emotions inevitably become raw.
Thank you so much and my our good and gracious God bless you. “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”