Dear Mom & Dad,

So, remember back in January when you sat me down to discuss your concerns for my generally sedentary lifestyle, my overall cardiovascular health, and the deterioration of my major organs at such a young age, not to mention my growing dislike for sweat, and physical activity?  And remember how you said you wanted me to go to Camp Geneva (aka: Geneva Across America): to see the country up close and personal, make new friends, and engross myself in a epic adventure of a lifetime?  Remember all that?  Well, why didn’t you just come out and say it…”Hey Mikey, you are unhealthy and fat, and you need to get moving before it’s too late!

Me, before I really knew what was ahead of me this summer…

Little did I know what I had gotten myself into.  Here I thought we were going to travel the country in a luxurious bus, watch movies, see the sites, eat the foods from all around the country and enjoy an adventure in the comfort of air conditioned accommodations…yea, right! This has been anything but laid back and luxurious.

Well, we arrived in San Francisco and slept at the church of Dr. and Mrs. Peters…they were very nice and even shared their chocolate with us…Mom and Dad, they know everything about chocolate!

Then, one of our leaders named Jeff, wanted to take us on what he called a “fun ride.” So we road our bikes over the Golden Gate bridge…half up hill and half downhill, it was pretty cool.  But then he wanted to take us to a light house and these other little towns and we started climbing these huge hills and descending on an 18% grade…yea, 18%, are you kidding me? I thought I was either going to throw up or pass out…but since I couldn’t figure out which one to do I just kept peddling. It was nasty scarey.

The next day Jeff wanted us to ride down to the beach, which I thought would be fun, you know, play in the waves, boogie board, snow cones, funnel cakes, all that beach stuff.  It was then that I realized this group was a little strange.  All they wanted to do was dip their tires in the water and keep riding…weird.

Then we road through the city and down to the pier to get on a boat…so I was thinking all right, a cruise ship!  Again with the big hills, but this time they were mostly downhill.  And the “cruise ship” was nothing…they had one TV and all it got was the weather station. The “spa” was nothing more than a bathroom and the dining room was a bar without free chips, or peanuts or anything…weird again.

And then, they wanted to ride even more….like for the rest of the day, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day! Six days without rest. Up a hill, down a hill, up a mountain, down a mountain, over and over and over again.  At one point I tried to convince the doctor on the trip to sell one of my kidneys to lighten my load or maybe replace it with a third lung…he was not cooperative…and we just kept riding up hill: 3,000 feet, 5,000 feet, 7,00 feet, and 9,000 feet. These people are nuts!

And when we started setting up camp, yea no luxury accommodations here Mom and Dad, just camping…it was then that I began to realize that this was not going to be like that fat camp you sent me to in Arizona, you know the one with the spa, fuzzy bath robes, dietitians, shrinks, putting lessons, and treadmills in the pool.  No this was a serious, hard core, Mikey you’re fat camp kind of stuff!  Not cool Mom and Dad, not cool!

We biked up SO many of these. The views were pretty great, I guess.

We biked up SO many of these. The views were pretty great, I guess.

Get this, we road over seven mountains in California alone, including Carson Pass (8,573 feet high). “Snow capped mountains majesty,” my foot, it was cold and there was snow! What happened to “summer vacation?” And then we climbed over 12 mountains in Nevada, 12 more in Utah, six in Colorado, one named Lizard Head Pass, and another called Monarch Pass (over 11,000 feet high)…that’s 37 mountains of pain and agony, out of breath and with no chips or soda, not even a Popsicle.  All they want to feed us is fruit, pasta, Perky Jerky, and Peter Rabbit organic fruit snacks. At some point fast food started to seem repulsive…yea, weird.

And the weather has been nuts! We road in the rain, we camped in hail, we went through an earthquake, and lived through not one but two sand storms, and when it got hot it was over 100 degrees hot! Did you know that they were going to do this to me? Did you? Not cool Mom and Dad, not cool.

This has been hard, really hard. So hard that the leader Jeff hopped on a plane to go home after one week, something about “not enough vacation time.” Yea right! And this other guy, Ed, the second week, he faked a “stomach ache” all the way to the hospital in order to get home.

Christy, Becky & Fiona. Our fearless leaders!

Christy, Becky & Fiona. Our fearless leaders!

And our other leaders, oh my head, they are little ninja bikers.  Becky the bull dog, the woman is ripped, and flies up the mountains in one breath. And Fiona the ferocious princess, is anything but a wimpy queen in waiting,. That lady rarely breaks a sweat and is always ready for another 50 miles.  Yea the rumor is that they were once navy seals, but now live or work in the woods somewhere…I am not sure. Then they threw in this other lady that is always happy and positive just to balance them out. Christy the princess of positivity.  The lady has 37 inch legs, like both of them…which gives her 10-12 more rotation than the average human being.  She could ride 300 miles a day if she wanted. And she is always happy, encouraging, look at the bright side and never seeing the moon. The other day she tried to convince us that she just started riding a few years ago and now she is riding across the country…yea right!

So here we are, near the end and we have ridden nearly 3,600 miles. I have gone from 225 pounds to 188 pounds, with more muscle than ever before, and now I think I actually like exercise, camping out, and bike riding. I do not even mid sweating a little bit, and I look forward to riding each day.  We are meeting really cool people every day, and we have ice cream at least twice a week and Dr. Jim brings us donuts…but no burgers or fries, but that’s okay because that stuff is unhealthy.    I have learned the value of living in community, facing my fears, pushing forward even when I am not happy or comfortable, challenging myself to try new things (like rice and beans, reading a thick book, and riding over a 10,000 foot mountains).  Kind of cool Mom and Dad, kind of cool!

Life is not always easy Mom and Dad, sometime you just have to hang in there and push through it.  In fact, life is like a bicycle trip, sometimes its slow going and tough, like climbing a mountain, and sometimes it’s as sweet as a 10 mile downhill at 40 miles per hour, or even 50 mph…with a helmet on of course.

It has been a journey of a lifetime. And, hey, fat camp worked, I lost nearly 40 pounds. Bazinga!

It has been a journey of a lifetime. And, hey, fat camp worked, I lost nearly 40 pounds. Bazinga!

All to say, this has been the greatest summer ever and the best camp I have ever gone to in my life.  In fact, they are thinking about doing it again and I thought maybe next time we could bring the entire family to Camp Geneva.

Okay, see you at the beach in a couple of weeks!




Ride Down Hill – another piece on GAA

Ride down hill

Photo by Kevin Lorenzi of Calkins Media | Posted: Saturday, July 27, 2013 12:15 am


Becky Case, left, and Fiona Smith, both of Beaver Falls, bike up a hill as they travel south on Route 65 in North Sewickley Township on Friday afternoon. Case, a Geneva College staff member, and Smith, a recent Geneva graduate, recently completed a cross country bike ride fundraiser that included alumni, staff and students from the college. The ride raised just under $50,000 for student scholarships.

Some well-deserved shout-outs.

This blog goes out to those on the trip that helped is out or encouraged us in some small way. You were an important reason why we reached our financial goal of 50,000. This list will also paint a picture of the people we met along the way and just how much fun it was to spread the word about Geneva and the Lord.

These two young men from Germany shared our excitement as we left to dip our tires in the ocean & then proceeded to help us with getting the van out of the campground

These two young men from Germany shared our excitement as we left to dip our tires in the ocean and then proceeded to helped park the trailer when Sam and Peggy were still learning.

A big thanks goes out to…

The Bank teller who was inspired to donate after hearing about our trip while we were getting money for a camp site.

Thanks to the guy who told us about Gillian at our original campground!

Gillian, who took in strangers and treated us like family.

The guy outside the Gabby Goat restaurant emptying trash who said he was excited and wanted to donate.

The Kansas police who warned us about riding 3 deep.

The Ridgway State Park Patrol who let us use an extra tent in our crowded camp site.

The Mt. Vernon breakfast group at Sips coffee house who invited us into conversation and inquired about Geneva and the work we were doing to support it.

The employees at the Ridgway Bookstore Coffeehouse. We needed the boost!

The employees at the Ridgway Bookstore Coffeehouse. We needed the boost!

Bill who runs the Dolores Campground, for giving Laura Zerbe a ride to the bike shop.

The Dolores Lizardhead cycle shop for your countless hours working on our bikes.  And to the local coffee shop for their hospitality and kind personalities.

To the person who followed us for 17 miles to make sure we weren’t lost in the Mt. Vernon, Ohio area, we needed that!

A shout out to all the  people who stopped their cars to ask if we were okay – or simply to cheer us on as we climbed the mountains out west.

To the lady who warned us about the sandstorm at Pueblo and not to put up our tents, a big thanks to you!

To the friendly bartenders at Cold Springs who gave us free coffee while we waited for our rooms. We needed the warm up!

To the self-supported cyclists we met in Pueblo who were crossing the country as a family! Your energy and zeal was encouraging.

Thanks to the Biola and Vanguard students that helped the team in Illinois!

To Abbey from Mount Vernon who provided a delicious meal & good conversation during our Sunday stay.  She even joined us for 25 miles of cycling Monday morning.

To Abbey from Mount Vernon who provided a delicious meal & good conversation during our Sunday stay. She even joined us for 25 miles of cycling Monday morning.

Thanks to the sheriff at the hotel in the Utah desert! Your advice was very helpful and we stayed hydrated thanks to your stories!

To the Tomachi Trading Post, you were right, cabins were much warmer than tents. Thank you for all the free appetizers and space to connect to the internet!

To Glenn, the cyclist we met entering Bryce Canyon, we were so inspired by you! Keep biking!

To the Ballet dancer walking 85+ miles through the desert at Calf Creek, we love that you prayed for us and hope you and your wife are blessed in your dancing ministry.

To the Girl working desk at Bryce for Christian Ministries, glad to see you were representing Christ to those visiting Bryce Canyon!

To the biking man from Genoa who introduced Christy to the town, you were very kind to us pure strangers.

To the greeting committee, aka Kathrine, in Arlington Colorado. 1/6th of the town came out to say hello and show us the town.

To the greeting committee, aka Kathrine, in Arlington Colorado. 1/6th of the town came out to say hello and show us the town.

How could we forget our awesome hosts, the Dr. Peters’ in Palo Alto; Ian and Rachel at Indiana Wesleyan University; Jim Andrew’s nephew, Tim, in St. Louis; Abbey Craig at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, the Anderson and Coulter family in Zionsville; the Zerbe family in Virginia; and the Loomis family in Bethany Beach!

Thanks to the hippy traveling California girls, with their healthy food and dancing cowboy shoes with the aqua themed van. We hope you made it safely back to California!

The family that offered lemonade to Jim while waiting out the rain on their porch.

To the Cider lady who treated the team to cider slushies, donuts, and tasty licorice. We want the recipe!

To the people from the Assembly of God Church who let us use showers, we REALLY needed them and you demonstrated what Christianity is all about!

To the Penny’s diner waitress who served us breakfast in Milford, thank you for your thoughtfulness!

To the Cowboy church in Utah, thank you for letting us join your congregation for a day.

To the Cowboy church in Utah, thank you for letting us join your congregation for a day.

To the church in Sargents, CO who cooked a lovely breakfast spread for your 20 person congregation. We were glad you made enough for us too!  Thank you for the hospitality you showed us.

To the Omo Ranch Road family who owned the general store. We hope you had a lovely music festival and thank you for the use of your backyard, hose, and bathroom facilities!

To the Milford church, thank you for your generosity in sharing Christ to the small town. May God bless your ministry.

To the support driver for the man running across the country, you were helpful to us all!

To the walker, Steve, who is walking for autism awareness across the country! Keep putting one foot in front of the other. You inspired the team with your dedication.

Thank you to couple who donated a free camp site at Fairground in Ohio. Next time, we’ll bring a house for the bees!

To the Teaching couple at Matterhorn who gave us a discount!

A special thanks to the Hite Recreation Area Park Rangers for your support as we stayed in a deserted desert for two nights.  We continue to lift their mother up in prayer!

A special thanks to the Hite Recreation Area Park Rangers for your support as we stayed in a deserted desert for two nights. We continue to lift their mother up in prayer!

Thanks to the Farmer who gave Bob a lift in his truck after his bike broke. He was tired after carrying it for 4 miles so your truck was much appreciated!

Thanks to the guy at the gas station driving a Porsche. Thank you for your generosity.

…We could go on all day about the many ways we were blessed by others.

Lastly, We also don’t want to forget all family and friends who prayed for our safety. The Lord was, is, and shall be glorified!

Thank you All!

GAA in the News

Bob Collins bicycles Across CountryWe made the newspaper in hometowns and several towns along the way! We’re so thankful for the publicity!

Below are the links to the current ones we could find:

July 23, 2013 – Bethany Beach, DE – From Sea to Shining Sea

July 15, 2013 – Centerville, OH – Centerville Man Pursuing the Dream of a Lifetime

July 9, 2013 – Wapakoheta, OH – Bikers Take Break in Wapak

July 9, 2013 – Wapakoheta, OH – Geneva Cyclists Getting Close to Home

June 11, 2013 – Ellwood City, PA – Cyclists from Geneva push into Utah on way across country

May 30, 2013 – Pittsburgh, PA – Geneva College Cyclists Raise Funds for Future

May 22, 2013 – Ellwood City, PA – Geneva College Riders Traveling Across Country

May 20, 2013 – Beaver Falls, PA – Geneva Across America is Underway

Flash Back to the Flash Flood

The plan was to leave the hotel at 6:30 am from our hotel in Pittsburgh.  We were all moving a bit slower than normal because of the previous night of conversing and enjoying the dinner Geneva organized for us as a send off to the final week of cycling across America.  We thoroughly enjoyed greeting folks from the Beaver Falls community and meeting the family members of some of our team. But it was a later night than we were accustomed to, hence the slow movements and sleep filled eyes.

I had been up at about 5am to unlock the trailer and post some blogs before we entered the whirlwind of the final days together as a team. Thankfully, a warm breakfast and coffee kept me awake in the lobby as I worked.  I found myself distracted by the news station playing in front of me, as the warning of a day filled with rain seemed inevitable for the day of cycling through the city.  It was apparent that we were in for a treat… a 80-90% chance of thunderstorms kind of treat.

We were in a bit of a time crunch, as we were meeting the Cycle to the Sea folks about 26.5 miles east of us in McKeesport, so we neglected to let the flash flood warnings and alarms on our phones disrupt our goal of leaving on time.

Cycling in PittsburghIt was POURING as we began pedaling through the streets of Pittsburgh in the traffic that already seemed to be influenced by the rain.  After about 7 miles of biking toward our destination, we reached the top of a mountainous hill near Station Square. The rain was streaming down our faces as we reexamined the plastic bags holding our printed directions for the day.  The route directed us down a different side of this hill to a road under an overpass and to the right.  Unfortunately, the next road was incorrect on our directions, so we found ourselves pedaling up a small hill through water logged potholes and running water – back to the protection of the overpass.  I remember mentioning my concern about flash flooding to another team member at this point – vaguely recalling the alert my phone had sent me minutes prior to leaving the hotel.

We regrouped under the overpass, wiping the water from our eyes and adjusting our rain gear… completely soaked through to our skin at this point.  Within a minute, a woman walks through the 3-4 inches of water pooling at our feet with an umbrella. Initially, she checks in to see if we need any help. After explaining that we were trying to find our way to the Three Rivers Trail in the center of town, she expresses her greater concern. Apparently, we were standing in the exact spot that floods first in the city during a flash flood. We had less than 10 minutes to get ourselves out of the valley and the water that was splashing around our ankles, before we would be swept away in the Pittsburgh flood.

A decision was quickly made to bike back up the mountainous hill we were originally stopped on to get out of the flood zone. Words and pictures will hardly do justice to describing the experience we had of biking up a stream. It seemed as though we were pedaling with all our might, yet without moving as the water quickly passed us, heading downhill – carrying branches, rocks, and other debris in its current.  When we all made it safely to the top of the hill, we found the contacts that had been relocated in our eyes due to the rain fall and found strength from the firm ground to calm the motion sickness that had captivated some of our stomachs.

At this point, the thunder and lightning was within close proximity and it became quite apparent that shelter was needed quickly.  We followed the one cyclist that had a functioning gps in the direction of what seemed to be a McDonalds.  The gps directed us down a different side of the hill.  I was at the back of the pack by a few hundred yards, holding my breaks tightly.  Within a few long minutes, I saw the riders in front of me turn back and begin climbing back up the hill again toward me. At this point, I got off my bike seat to wade across the street.  As soon as my feet hit the ground I felt the water swallow my feet – surrounding my calves in cold, wet water.  It was all I could do to slowly waddle across the street in front of several kind cars to reach the team.

Cycling in the RainWith the help of a local woman who took pity on a team of drowned rats on wheels, we were pointed in the right direction and eventually made it to the McDonalds.   We were greeted by some kind employees who provided us with warm coffee and tea at a discounted (seniors) rate, hand dryers that warmed us, and a number of locals who shared conversation with our team over breakfast in the 2.5 hours we spent there – waiting out the rest of the storm. We did eventually arrive in McKeesport to greet the Cycle to the Sea folks in one piece, just a few hours later than we had hoped.

In reflecting on this memorable experience, it is hard to miss the hand of protection that guided us throughout our morning of cycling in the Pittsburgh flash flood.  The Lord kept the team safe by protecting our tires from sharp objects, keeping us together on the hills, and giving the drivers of the cars around us a sensitivity to our every move as we navigated the hills, traffic, and rain on this treacherous day.  I never cease to be amazed by the protection He afforded our team and the laughter He gave us as we reflected on some of our more challenging moments as a team.  Praise and glory goes to our mighty Heavenly Father!

Stories From the Trail Part III – Answers

Phew, sorry for the delay guys! As we wrap up this segment I just want to say thank you to everyone who voted and I hope you enjoyed our little tales!

1: The cop

Answer: Blocking Traffic Lanes

So we had just stopped for a water break with a few of the bikers when the sheriff’s police car pulled over besides us (uh oh) He walked over and asked where we were going and made some polite small talk. Finally, he mentioned that he had been receiving multiple complaints that our cyclists were riding three abreast, which is illegal in Kansas. We suspect some farmers had made the call, but it was understandable as it was the beginning of harvest time. Hopefully that will be our only run in with the

2: Trailer

Answer: the door!

As you might have read the wind in Kansas did a number on our trailer door. It was bent out of it’s frame, and pretty badly beaten up (we had to pry it shut) And so, rather grudgingly, we completely rearranged the trailer including unburying the box labeled “Medical Supplies” (actually carrying granola bars) I actually like the new layout better, it is a little easier to navigate!


Answer: Dragging the behind  trailer



Secondly: It was Jim Andrew’s idea that perhaps the best way to be rid of the bees was to drag the chair behind the trailer. We had planned to use raid but Christy gave an impassioned plea for their lives. Swayed by her vigor, we resorted to other means.  The plan was that I would creep up and tie the rope to the leg of the chair and then to the trailer. Part 2 of the plan would be for us to drive around the campsite until there were no more bees.

And wouldn’t you know it, it worked! We had to shake a few bees off after a bit, but most just fell of in a massive clump! While my chair got a bit beat up but it is bee free!

4: Sleeping Inside

A: 5!

Boy we were pampered that week! Only 2 nights of camping! It was all the more pleasant due to the incessant rain that has dogged us from Missouri! I can’t even comprehend what it will be like to go back to my own bed!

Thank you so much for your time, we have many more stories to tell and we look forward to sharing them with you in person as the team returns home!

Best regards,

Sam Duguid

Pedaling Nomads


Our first night in Kansas – the windstorm kept most of us up this night.

It was still dark.  A cricket would chirp now and then, but other than that the early morning was still.  Then the silence was broken by the zipper of a tent.  A dark figure emerges – the first of the GAA team to arise – and the morning begins.  Within minutes the campsite looks like a bunch of ants near their ant hill – tents are being taken down, water for coffee heating, sleeping bags rolled up, bike tires pumped up, bags packed, biking clothes adorned, and oatmeal garnished with dried fruit and pecans being stirred on the stove.

This has been our lives for 7 weeks now.  Each day in a different place with unique aspects of its own.  Just over a week ago the same scene as I mentioned above occurred but each morning was beset with a perpetual Kansas wind, which though calmer than it was during the day was still at points violently shaking each leaf and bending tree limbs under its force.  We never heard the tent zippers then, but the same swarm of ants appeared each morning to pack and prepare their bikes for travel.

The winds, sand, and desolation at Hite Recreation Area will not be forgotten by our team.

The winds, sand, and desolation at Hite Recreation Area will not be forgotten by our team.

It’s hard for me to believe I’ve been doing this for 7 weeks already.  We have lived a sort of nomadic lifestyle.  Each day arising before dawn to beat the heat and wind. Each day preparing ourselves for travel, then peddling several hours before arriving at and exploring the hospitality offered by our new location.

We’ve been travelers and guests for 7 weeks, each place experiencing the hospitality of those who greet us.  We experience these places for a night, they sometimes have experienced them for a lifetime – they have been formed and shaped by the land, and in turn shaped the culture of the land where they live.  We have passed though, only experiencing what is seen on the surface the one night we are there.

I won’t soon forget the lady who was camping near us in the flat lands of Colorado.  She must have seen us struggling to set up tents in the 50+ miles winds and ventured over to tell us what was going to occur.  She told us a dust storm was about to arrive, how the winds would continue to increase and the wall of dust on the horizon would soon block out our view of the lake we were camping by and come upon us.  Then in 45 minutes it would all be finished and we could resume life.  She was right – it happened just as she said.  She had experienced life in that place and knew the weather patterns that we had only wondered about as we pulled up to our campsite with a shelter shaded on one side from the wind.

Zerbe and Christy use their hammocks whenever they can - easy set-up and tear-down. They say they're comfortable for sleeping.

Zerbe and Christy use their hammocks whenever they can. They say they’re comfortable for sleeping and make packing easy in the morning.

As we’ve experienced these different places we’ve often admired those who live there – those who have endure and been cooled off by the sturdy Kansas winds, those who have outlasted the long mountain winters with their incredible scenery, & those who have become resourceful and creative in the midst of long 7 year droughts, and those who live with the muggy heat.

There are places we have felt more at home and places that we encounter new and strange things.  Sometimes we feel more at home because it is familiar, sometimes because it is pleasant, sometimes because we are encountering this journey together, and sometimes simply because the hospitality offered toward us is extra-ordinary.

This past week we have continued our nomadic lifestyle, but the zippers of tents have not often been heard in the wee hours of the morning.  Instead most evenings we’ve been greeted by family friends, former co-workers, or other universities who have cheered us on and offered us the luxuries of air conditioning, mattresses and indoor accommodations more times in one week than any previous week on the trip


Joining the Nine Riders of Geneva Across America for two days will be a highlight of the summer for several members of my family.  Providentially, my husband Ken’s free time and GAA’s route intersected in Indiana and Ohio, two of the flattest states to bike through.  He signed up.  In a moment of recklessness, I decided to join the ride also.   And when I invited my dad to ride along with me, he agreed!  Now, I was committed.

Heedless of our questionable level of preparedness, Ken and I drove to Zionsville, IN, to join the GAA team on Wednesday, July, 3.  Arriving that afternoon in the neighborhood of hosts Craig and Donna Anderson, we easily identified their home.  It was the one with tents, tarps, and sleeping bags strewn about the lawn.  At first it appeared that GAA intended to camp in the front yard, but they were merely drying out their equipment from the rain of a few nights before.

Between the Andersons and Christy’s family we had excellent, all-purpose hosts.  Christy’s family provided a sumptuous and plentiful dinner (how often are you offered a pre-dessert appetizer before the real dessert?) and carbohydrate-rich breakfast, and the Andersons gave the team a place to sleep (inside), shower, and do laundry.  On the following morning, Thursday, July 4, all nine riders, including Ken, sported red-white-and-blue dew rags under their helmets—Peggy’s patriotic gift in honor of Independence Day.

Thursday’s ride was an easy 62 miles, a relatively short jaunt over easy terrain.  Ken rode with the group, but I drove to meet them at Indiana Wesleyan University, where they would spend the night.  After my father met us at IWU that evening, I began having second thoughts.  Although he and I only intended to ride 10 or 15 miles—not the entire 82 miles scheduled—I began to realize how unprepared I was for this trip.  The forecast was a 50% chance of rain at the start and 100% at our destination in St. Mary’s, Ohio.  Unlike Ken, Dad and I had no significant training (a daily five block round-trip between my parents’ house and ours hardly counts), no neon yellow biking jerseys, no odometer, and no rain gear.

But we did have Fiona.  She rode with us for the first few miles until the road’s shoulder narrowed to about two feet, at which point she accelerated and soon caught up with the serious bikers.  Eventually, Dad and I called our private support vehicle (driven by my mother and sister), and arranged to meet at the McDonald’s in the next town, Montpelier, IN, which a road sign indicated was five miles away.  Who knew Montpelier didn’t have a McDonald’s?  They do have a Speedway gas station, and that served as a rendezvous point.  To our astonishment, we learned that we had cycled 23.2 miles in a little over two hours.

When we set out that morning, the riders directly in front of us in the heavy fog seemed to decease in opacity until they totally vanished from view.  During the day, however, we never felt more than a few squirts of raindrops, and gradually the fog lifted.  Hours later, Bob and Ken, at the head of the pack, zoomed into camp at the Auglaize County Ohio Fairgrounds, exalting in the ride, the finish—and the weather; the sky was cobalt blue with cotton ball clouds.

But to this fair weather cyclist, the thrill of biking an Indiana road with my daughter, my husband, and my father surpasses even that bright sky.

GAA’s host’s lawn looked like a campsite because all their wet gear was drying in the yard.

GAA’s host’s lawn looked like a campsite because all their wet gear was drying in the yard.

The team lines up in front of the trailer wearing their patriotic dew rags.

The team lines up in front of the trailer wearing their patriotic dew rags.

Sponsor stickers on the trailer.

Sponsor stickers on the trailer.

Three generations of riders:  Fiona, her mom, dad and grandpa.

Three generations of riders: Fiona, her mom, dad and grandpa.

The white board in the trailer.

The white board in the trailer.

When camp is set up, the tired riders read, write, or nap until it’s time to make supper.

When camp is set up, the tired riders read, write, or nap until it’s time to make supper.

When the van arrives at camp, Sam and Peggy unload all the tents and sleeping bags for the riders to set up at the end of their ride.

When the van arrives at camp, Sam and Peggy unload all the tents and sleeping bags for the riders to set up at the end of their ride.

Mike Loomis, A.K.A. Mr. America.

Mike Loomis, A.K.A. Mr. America.

Martie Adams (who joined GAA for the week), Ken, and Fiona

Martie Adams (who joined GAA for the week), Ken, and Fiona

Dreaming Big

Just over two years ago Fiona, Becky and I sat on Becky’s couch loftily talking about cross-country trips. Each with a love of biking and community it was easy to dream together. About a month later Becky invited Fiona and I into Dr. Loomis’ office. Slightly intimidated, it was soon realized there was no reason to be afraid. When he had heard of our discussion his response was, “Let’s make this happen with a purpose.” So we were there to talk action. I was shocked and excited, totally willing to think this through. As the team grew to include Christy and others what once seemed unattainable became more of a reality. This trip was going to happen! And briefly I would get to be a part of it.

The team entering OhioGod has truly blessed this experience. When envisioning what the ride would look like I saw a sunset over the tents and a pile of bicycles as people rested in the confidence of the Lord.

It’s ok to dream big.

This past week I had the blessing of joining a team of amazing people and being part of a dream as they rode across Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. These folks exemplified strength and determination, but also a patience and willingness to enjoy the people around them. They have created for themselves a unique group. My experience was pleasant for many reasons.

Riding is fun and invigorating, but knowing you are doing it with others for a common purpose makes it even more enjoyable. It is the people who are willing to come along side you when your muscles are tired, willing to let you draft behind them when the wind is making things seem hopeless and willing to drive an extra mile in the van to make sure you get to fill your water or offer you twizlers after a long day; those are the people who make the ride itself more than just an independent achievement. It’s also the people who spend the evenings talking about home with you when you are missing your family andthose who are comfortable to sit in silence and rest together that makes the riding a deeper experience. I am grateful to have made these new acquaintances and grateful to have learned more about community. These people that I have described are the people that are a blessing to travel across the states with; but more than that, these are the type of people that one needs in their life: people who have strength and patience. Fiona and Ijoke often about ways life is like a bike ride, but more and more I’m seeing how the metaphor can align. In this case life should be like a bike ride.

Yeah, God is good!

Enjoy the ride.


A view from our journey