Spending Friday night at Hope College in Holland, MI was a small precursor to the fun and rest we would be granted during our stay at Calvin College in Grand Rapids. I was able to connect with a friend from the '08 ride - Lou Haveman. And yet again, we were treated to a delicious supper. Every college we stay at reminds me how grateful my university did not have a cafeteria! There are just too many food choices and I end up nearly having to roll myself out after eating dinner!
We awoke Saturday morning, had breakfast at a church just around the corner and began our 67 kilometer ride into Grand Rapids. After a week of long and challenging days, it was a blessing to be able to hit the pillow Friday night knowing that Saturday, even if not perfect weather, would still be short and easy. We were all tired, our muscles exhausted. It was not too much of a challenge to differentiate the day riders biking with us from those of us who had ridden all week. If the tan lines had not given it away I think the more methodical, intentional way we spun our pedals as if energy reserves were low must have been a good clue. Because of the church breakfast and the huge number of new bikers joining us, we started out late (7:45- that's late!) and slowly began to make our way through the plethora of church stops along the route.
We ate cookies at the library, had chocolate milk from LaVonne, a bottle of water from World Renew, and lunch at Calvin CRC where we gathered before riding in peloton into Calvin College. Stationed all along the route were people cheering us one. Whether we passed in front of their homes and they decided to cheer from there or they gathered at important intersections and businesses along the way. There was definitely a huge excitement buzzing through the atmosphere.
While at Calvin CRC we ate lunch, met some new riders and gave Clifford the Big Red Dog a kiss. Oh the things we do while waiting around! We eventually gathered in the parking lot to prepare for our group cycle into Calvin College. Billy D led us on his motorcycle and two van leap-frogged their way blocking intersections for us. Again, spectators cheered and honked their horns as we passed by. I couldn't help but spend most of that short three-mile ride laughing to myself as cries of "hole," "turning," "slowing," and "stopping" rang out throughout the entire group. When riding that close it is important to communicate but, as always, when all of us work to communicate the resulting sound resembles something akin to a kindergarten classroom during playtime. I laughed even harder when a few cyclists, somewhat annoyed with the surrounding constant commentary, chimed in with ridiculous comments including: "pedaling," "breathing," "blinking..." I couldn't hold outloud guffaws when Stan and Allen began to commentate on the turning abilities of the three riders ahead of them... the comments then began to turn into a full blown commentary reminiscent of what you'd hear at a race.
"Well Stan, what do you think the potential of this team it?"
"Well Allen, these riders have been training really hard and look! See how they all signaled that turn? Allen, I expect great results from this team."
We rode onto the Calvin College campus to the cheers of dozens of spectators with the sheer enjoyment of that short three mile ride swelling my heart with joy. "This is what community is about, I thought!" Having fun, laughing and serving God together. I cherish these memories, they happen often and I am so grateful for them!