Written by: Steff Zavala
Good evening, blog readers and FCBA crew who are reading this! This morning was a great, overcast day to ride. We started in White Bear Lake, MN after a hearty breakfast of leftovers and recap stories of the day/evening before. I love morning rides. We all tend pull out of the church around the same time and it takes a while for everyone to figure out their pace for the day. That allows for ample time to connect with various individuals as you come up on their left or if you slow to ride with them for a bit.
FCBA, every year, is like an automatic family. We were welcomed into Segment 6 starting in St. Cloud with open arms and a room full of people waiting to meet us – whether we knew them before or were just meeting them for the first time. It only took a day to feel like we were a part of the group and just another family member in orange. I felt that today on the ride as we rode south east of St. Paul and crossed the St. Croix River after the Wisconsin State Line. The group has embraced my husband, Luke Zavala, and our aunt Barb and uncles Mike and Brian, in the same fashion.
We rode with packs, mostly, and had philosophical conversations about faith, life, and the journey toward finding meaning. Biking really gives you a chance to learn things about people that you never would have known otherwise. Somehow, as you and your riding buddy or riding pack are gazing in the same direction, words come out that you didn’t know you’d plan to speak and stories circulate through the breeze. I like being a collector of stories. I wish I could keep them all in a box and pick one out every time I feel like I need to hear it again. My life has truly been enriched by what people have shared on the Fuller Center rides and what I have been able to share about myself and my own expedition.
As we started to ride parallel to the Mississippi River, the hills became exponentially steeper. We took our time, though, because it was only a 54 mile day. After we conquered all the hills, we moved on to the combatting of cars. The last three miles were very adventurous in that we had to work around constructions and heavy lunch time traffic. I found it exhilarating – as exhilarating as the multiple downhills we were lovingly allotted by the geography today.
The church we are staying at tonight, First Presbyterian in Red Wing is very biblically on top of a hill which happens in so many of the towns in which we stay. Before we went to dinner, though, we showered at the YMCA – oyee for free towels – and checked out the town. We met the group at the Liberty first and then went to the Veranda at St. James’ Hotel with a view of the river. The sun was peeking out of the clouds, so it ended up being a warm afternoon.
Tonight, some lovely church ladies cooked us chili with all the condiments and served it with cheese curds on every table. For dessert, we had watermelon which is the most refreshing after-bike sweetness.
Although we learned that tomorrow’s ride will be 80 miles in 90 degree heat, today’s refreshing glide will hopefully set our muscles on the right course for tomorrow’s rigor. As I’m typing this, I’m laying on one of the couches in the youth room we were able to snag. A beautiful, sound night of sleep hopefully awaits us!