Trusting and a bicycle built for two:
I’ve had a lot of time for reflection since the passing of my husband 14 months ago. I was thinking back on one of our first conversations when Keith and I first met. He asked, “Do you like riding bikes?” I said, “Sure I do.” The only riding I’d done was around the block. Little did I know that soon after we were married, we were the proud owners of a tandem, a bicycle built for two.
We loved hanging out together, so the tandem was perfect for us. It was the only way I could keep up with him, and it kept us connected. Thank God for tandems. I remember our first ride, and my excitement that I had accomplished my first 10 miles. My first thought was “this is fun.” My saddle was sore, and my legs were tired, but I was hooked. From that time forward, every time we went out for a spin my miles kept increasing. That was good news. Together we did many century rides (100 miles) but the highlight of my riding was when I committed to do a double century (200) miles. I always knew my husband loved cycling, but it wasn’t until we were married that I realized the extent of his love for it. He was an avid cyclist, and an ultra distance rider. He loved climbing and descending, and he was fearless on the bike.
I trusted my husband with my life. That is the only way that a tandem team is effective. You have to trust the person in front with your life, and let them lead. Similarly, in the Christian life, I need to trust Jesus with my life, and let him lead.
Doing my part for the team:
The front rider can lead the team forward and do more work, but the rider on the back must make life changes to get to the desired destination. When I agreed to do a double century it was a check mark on my bucket list. My husband was more than happy and willing to help me check it off. He was so excited and I was a little scared. I thought, “What did I get myself into?” My biggest concern was could I do this? There was no turning back. I like a challenge every now and then and this would be a big one. I knew it would require a lot of me, but I was committed.
As I began to prepare for this 200-mile race it meant commitment, training, focus, and determination, and I had to give up my lifestyle – goodbye brownies and ice cream, hello carrots sticks. The lighter we were on the bike, the easier the climbs and the faster we could go. We were doing 27 to 30 hours of training each week, rain or shine and never without wind. For the next nine months, that was my new life. Similarly, in the Christian life, Jesus does the bulk of the work, but I need to be disciplined to get where I want to be. Bible reading, prayer, worship gatherings, community, and serving all help me go and grow. And they are not always easy.
Finishing the race well:
Allow me to fast forward to the day of the race. We arrived at Pepperdine University at 5:00 a.m. The early morning was a real treat as we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise, riding along the Pacific Coast Highway. A few minutes into our race our bike chain slipped, but my husband quickly made an adjustment and we were on the road again. It was at 75 miles that I started hurting. I wanted off the bike, but we kept on going. I reminded myself, “I’ve worked hard and come this far I am not giving up!” This adventure took us through Camarillo, Thousand Oaks, Ojai, and the Rincon (just a few of the places I recall), and back onto the PCH. The last 6 miles of the race were brutal, peddling up the hills to the university for the finish were the hardest miles I ever experienced. It was 7:00 pm when we made it to the finish. The race was life changing. Little did I know then that I would be doing the ride all over again, metaphorically speaking, as I now journey through life without my mate. In my race of faith, there have been countless challenges, times that I felt I wouldn’t make it, and times I wanted to quit. Yet, I know that Jesus will get me to the end – don’t give up!
I liken my experience on the bike to life, for example the 75-mile mark was a defining moment for me. It plays a big role in my daily life still. I am constantly adjusting and shifting to the changes, discomforts, and struggles of life. I realize that there’s going to be some pain along the way, yet I choose to keep peddling -one peddle stroke at a time, in this journey called life. I miss everything about my husband, and the connection we had on and off the bike. He was my knight in shining armor. He left me with a spirit of strength, perseverance, determination, and a daily reminder to never give up. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be doing a 200-mile race, let alone be writing about it. All I wanted to do was to check it off my bucket list and never think about it again. I no longer ride, but I do train. My training now is to open God’s word daily, and spend time with Jesus. It doesn’t always come easy, but as my former training everyday increased my miles, my current training increases my faith. Both make me stronger. This type of discipline never disappoints. I have no regrets, only deep gratitude to my husband for this gift that keeps on giving.