Written by: Sue Farris
Up until today, I haven’t ridden more than 20 miles during this 2015 biking season. First, the winter seemed to last FOREVER. Second, there was always something else that seemed to take priority. Finally, when I initially signed up for this ride, August 10 seemed like it was SO FAR AWAY and I had plenty of time to train. Somehow, I never managed to fit in the training part, but this ride is happening regardless. I was so much better prepared for the 2012 ride than this one.
We set out at 7:30 this morning from Plymouth Congregational Church in Syracuse, headed approximately 65 miles east to Herkimer. The first 20 miles (remember, this now matched my longest ride of the season) felt, ehh, not too bad. I hit the first rest stop, loaded up on bananas and filled my water bottle with Gatorade, and then headed back out again.
The next 20 miles were SO hard. We climbed, and climbed, and climbed some more, and yet, contrary to physics, there never seemed to be any DOWNhills. I struggled up hill after hill, praying only that I would make it to the next rest stop, and wondering when I did if I shouldn’t ride the remaining miles in the van. Blessedly, we encountered a nice, long downhill shortly before the next rest stop, so that restored my faith in this beautiful earth, fed my soul, and convinced me to bike the remaining miles. Again I nourished myself with bananas (plus a peanut butter sandwich for good measure) and a bottle full of Gatorade, and an encouraging hug from Geezerman. I was off, thinking, “Pshhh…20 more miles. I got this. Easy.”
To say it was anything but easy for me is an understatement. Around mile 50 (just 6 miles from the rest stop) I began to seriously question if I’d be able to make those 20 miles. A headwind of what seemed like 50 knots was my constant companion, knocking my average speed down to about 10 miles per hour. Being already tired AND having to fight a headwind does not make for a pleasant bike ride, and I even swore out loud at the wind at one point.
When I felt like I was going to have to stop, shy of the day’s full mileage, I prayed out loud. Not for anything specific, simply a beseeching “God, please help me.” Within a few hundred yards, I noted the sign indicating I’d made it to the town of Herkimer, meaning I had just a few short miles left. God heard me. Granted, I had to play games with my brain and my odometer to make it through those few remaining miles, but when I pulled up to our host church, there was my friend Tom, offering to do anything I needed.
Once I was able to dismount my bike, I showered, joined my new friends for a “snack” (i.e. meal) at a nearby restaurant, got my room set up, and relaxed. I haven’t made any decisions about tomorrow’s mileage yet – I am simply going to wait to see how I feel in the morning, and to discern what God’s will may be for me.