Thursday, August 27, 2009

Quote of the day: It's okay

A few of the other women came to check on me, each putting an arm around me and saying, "It's okay." I wasn't really in a position to explain it at the time, but that was actually why I was crying -- because it was okay. My tears were tears of overwhelming relief and gratitude, the sort of tears you might cry if someone to whom you owed a lot of money not only forgave your debt but handed you a million dollars. I had been given a priceless reminder, in the form a priest filled with love in the midst of his own hour of suffering, that while the grief we feel at the tragedies of this world is legitimate, we should never forget that the truth of the Gospel is essentially the truth that the sad saga of this world has a happy ending -- in fact, it's the happiest ending imaginable.

From Undefeatable joy by Jennifer at Conversion Diary

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CANDISC '09—My first bike tour: Day 1

(This is the map on the back of our T-shirt that shows the route we biked.)

Day 1: Sunday, Aug. 2—Garrison to Drake

Ahhh, it's 5 a.m. in the morning and I am awoke by the gentle sound unique to tent camping—zzziiip, zzzzziiiiiip, zzziiip, zzzzzzzzziiiiiiiiiiiiip! I never realized just how many zippers were involved with camping until being in a non-sound-stopping tent surrounded by 400 other campers zipping and unzipping sleeping bags, tents, duffle bags, jackets, etc. It made for some good laughs throughout the tour.

I admit I was a little annoyed at the thought of being awake at 5 in the morning while on vacation when I heard the gentlemen camping right behind me decide that would be the time they would set the alarm for in the morning. I quickly discovered as the week went on, however, that I was awake and ready to be up when the other campers were starting to stir as well. I was pretty amazed by that, but we went to bed pretty much as soon as the sun went down. I was tired and ready to crash after the physical exhaustion of pedaling for several hours each day, so I got my sleep time.

The benefit of being up even before the sun peeks over the horizon? You get to see the beautiful sunrises God gives us!

This was the gift awaiting me after packing up my camping gear, getting myself ready and hitting the road on the way out of Ft. Stevenson State Park into Garrison where our breakfast was being served. I thanked God for starting the day so well.

I enjoyed a great breakfast in Garrison meeting a couple of older veteran cyclist gentlemen that kept tabs on me throughout the ride after hearing it was my first tour, I was doing it by myself AND I was riding a hybrid bike with mountain bike tires instead of road tires. They were very kind and encouraging but I think they were a little worried about me as well. :) (So I don't forget, I will tell you the last I spoke to these gentlemen was at the end of day 6 when we only had 35 miles left. They were so impressed to hear that I had biked every mile they grinned and said they had no doubt I would be back for more after doing so well on the first tour. They were right!;)

On the other side of me at breakfast were 2 women, Gayle and Ranae, from McVille, ND. Yeah, I had never heard of it before either. And neither had Ranae before her husband asked her to move there 25 years before. ;) Let me tell you, these women are quite the firecrackers! And so kind! When they heard that I was a lone biker out doing my first tour they invited me to come bike with them, which I did...for the entire week! It's amazing what God will do when you just let go and trust him to give you what you need. I figured I was going to have a pretty quiet week of riding and camping by myself, and that didn't bother me. But then he puts these great women in my life the first morning, we have a fairly similar riding pace, and this is their first full tour also. Well, I had a great week getting to know Gayle and Ranae and they kept me laughing. Especially when the times got tough and painful. Thanks again, God!

Now, notice the clouds in the picture that are a part of the great sunrise. Yeah, those would be rain clouds. Just as we got done with breakfast and started hitting the road for the first leg of the tour the rain also started. It was warm enough that it didn't really bother us and it was a fairly light rain that only lasted until about the first rest stop.

This is what the first rest stop looked like. If you look behind the bikers you will see a couple of strange-looking geese. These "dressed-up" geese sit atop the bathrooms-on-wheels that go from rest stop to rest stop to bring relief to water and Gatorade drinking bikers. I had to laugh every time these potties/geese went whizzing by me on the road to the next stop. They dress the geese in different themes each year, apparently. This year one set had viking type clothing and head gear on and the other set had bike clothes and helmets. The CANDISC team does a great job of keeping things light and fun.

Right behind the first rest stop this white statue caught my eye as I was waiting in line for the restroom. So, I went to investigate, and what do I find? A Catholic cemetery with this gorgeous crucifix, Mary and John! I knew right then and there this trip was going to be great and God was pedaling every step of the way with me. Once again, I was thanking God.

The rest of the day went surprisingly well since it was the longest day of riding I had done to that point, 75 miles. My longest ride previously had been 50 miles. I actually enjoyed all of the miles up until after the last rest stop. Then, the last 10 miles we had pouring rain. It still wasn't cold so that wasn't the problem, but I did have a problem with the "wet diaper" feel of the chamois in my bike shorts absorbing all of the water. Yuck! Lesson learned: have rain gear with you if there is (or even isn't!) a possibility of rain! I learned a lot of lessons over the course of the week, this being one of the big ones.

Never fear! By the time we got to the camp in Drake the weather was clearing up and we had a gorgeous night. After a shower and clean clothes I forgot all about the rainy last 10 miles. We had a wonderful ham supper and enjoyed our evening.

(Look at the Drake sign. When tent camping, every surface becomes a drying rack for clothes and towels.)

Days stats:
75 miles biked
12.3 MPH average speed
31.3 MPH max speed
5 hours and 48 mins. spent biking

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When God locks doors

Wow! This article by Jennifer over at the Conversion Diary blog sent chills up my spine. God works in such amazing ways! We just have to be open to letting him do that work.

I felt a twinge of joy (I've mentioned before that my heart always swells whenever I see consecrated religious men and women) but quickly reminded myself that I was having a bad day and I had no time for smiling at nuns when there was so much self-pitying to be done.

I keep asking myself, "would I have talked to the nuns and gone back to try the door again?"

I will keep praying that I give God that chance to keep working on and in me each day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

CANDISC '09—My first bike tour: Overview and registration day

The blog has been quiet the last couple of weeks because I was away on a great new adventure. My first long distance (425 mile) bike tour. And what fun it was! Yes, also painful at times, but the fun and adventure far outweigh the pain and that is what is stickin' with me since I got home. It's still hard to believe that I biked 425 miles but I am very excited to get a new road bike now (I rode on my hybrid bike, pictured above) and go again.

Now, the word "tour" is very important. The time spent on your bike is NOT a race. It's about taking the time needed to make it from point A to point B each day at a comfortable speed while enjoying the scenery, people and food along the way. The scenery was gorgeous and green this year with the moisture we have gotten. The people were so nice and fun. And the food...OH, the was almost endless and so yummy!

Each day there are several rest stops along the way about every 10-20 miles with restrooms, food and beverages available for us. We are burning through thousands of calories a day while riding so it's important that we keep replenishing our "fuel stores." Most of the rest stops are manned by church groups or organizations that use this as a fundraiser and they serve some awesome homemade goodies, sandwiches, soup, burgers, brats, rolls, cheese, crackers, name it. You never know what you are going to find waiting for you until you get to the next stop, that's part of the fun.

And I haven't even mentioned the suppers and breakfasts hosted by the towns where we camped each night. Man, they went all out and put a lot of time and effort into taking great care of us tired, hungry bikers. We had a turkey dinner with all the fixins, a ham dinner, roast beef dinners, spaghetti dinner, all-you-can-eat taco bar and every kind of wonderful breakfast combination you can think of.

OK, enough about the food, I think you get the idea. :)

Registration day, Aug. 1st:

Saturday is registration day. We all met at Fort Stevenson State Park just outside of Garrison, ND to get signed in, have a meeting and spend our first night camping. There were 435 riders this year (last I heard), 140 from North Dakota and the rest were from out of state and even a couple of people from outside of the country. I think they said there were people from 29 different states, but I can't remember for sure. The youngest biker was 5 years old and the oldest biker was 76.

After getting signed in and setting up my tent "home" I rode around the park a little bit and took some photos of big ol' Lake Sakakawea. (Pictured above and below.) Then it was time for supper, our meeting and bed so we could get up at 5 a.m. the next morning to start our first ride.

Watch for "Day 1" when I get some more time to blog, hopefully soon...