my mind still cannot wrap around the idea that i just biked 132 miles in 2 days!
but i will try to put it into words.
day one we loaded our bikes onto a moving truck, hopped in our bus and headed up to brooksville, where we prepared for our ride. there were 100+ riders divided into 8 groups according to our riding speed. each group had a lead rider and a tail runner. we got started an hour and a half later than expected, but eventually took off down the suncoast parkway. we typically stopped every 12-14 miles. the JOYFM supplied support vans, snacks, drinks and meals. day one ended in tampa around 6:30 where we had dinner and a concert with mark schultz, who rode with us that day. We crashed in our hotel beds around 10. day two greeted us with frost on the ground as we boarded our bus at 6 a.m. to head to our starting point. we were on our bikes by 8:30, again stopping every 12-14 miles. i honestly do not recall the exact time we arrived at the finish line, but it must of been around 5 p.m.
in my last post i talked about some pre-ride fears i had and guess what… i had to face every single one of them in addition to dogs chasing us on country roads, dodging road kill, crazy drivers, navigating through Tampa at rush hour, and our group making a wrong turn which added 2 miles to our ride near the end of the 2nd day. i had also shared a verse God had given me ~ “my gracious favor is all you need. my power works best in your weakness” 2 cor. 12:9. i found this to be rock solid truth on this adventure!
i have no doubt that our gaurdian angels are also needing some recovery time! most of our riding had a decent bike path, but some did not. there was one such stretch that was a school bus run and if i counted correctly, about half a dozen of those big yellow buses whizzed past us. nothing short of a miracle that no one was hurt. on the first day kim and i got seperated from our group (too long of a story to tell here). we came to a large intersection in tampa and could not see any other riders in any direction and found ourselves “lost”. a woman honked and waved as she drove by and we waved back thinking she was one of the many who did so upon seeing our neon jerseys and logo. a minute later we saw her walking toward us. she had parked her car and walked over to where we were to ask us if we were looking for our “joy friends”. we said “yes!” and she told us that she had seen them “down the road that way”. we thanked her and headed in that direction and eventually found a group, who took us to the next stop. think what you may, but kim and i believe she was an angel sent to help two stranded biker chics!
to say this was a physical and mental challenge is a huge understatement. i think giving birth was easier! i believe with my whole heart that when God said “my gracious favor is all you need. my power works best in your weakness” He meant it. friday night i woke up with back pain and truly questioned whether i could do the second day. God and i had a long chat. i wasn’t sure if he was wanting me to humble myself and not finish or if he was wanting me to trust His “gracious favor”. i finally surrendered to whatever He wanted and fell back asleep. i woke up in the morning with no pain and figured i would just do the next thing… get dressed… get on the bus… eat breakfast… get on my bike… start peddling… before i knew it we had gone five miles, then ten. mile after mile it was “Jesus, give me strength, because i don’t have it in me” and somehow i would be able to turn that pedal one more rotation. today in church one of the verses that was shared was Isaiah 26:3 – “people with their mind set on you, you keep completely whole and steady on their feet because they keep at it and don’t quit.” this was a lesson i learned mile after mile. When we were freezing cold, kim reminded us that at least we would have a hot shower and a bed at the end of the day. The reason we were doing this ride was to help those who haven’t had either for a long time. God used fellow riders like… clare, a young woman with the gift of encouragement, who talked me through some rough spots. bob, our lead rider and christine, our tail runner who amazed me with their patience as i struggled to make it to the end.
ruthi and kim made it to the end!
i am so blessed to have had this experience. i loved doing it with my amazing “just do it” friend, kim. i value the things God taught me mile after mile. it was fun meeting new people and hearing their stories. an encouraging message on my cell phone from amber and seeing mark, veronica, and mike standing there at the end with a sign that said they were proud of me just about did me in.
it is such a privledge to touch other people’s lives with the love of Jesus. the donations i collected will help The Life Center, a home for homeless men. a place where they are given a second chance, clothed, fed and assisted in finding employment. once they have completed the 9 month program, they are still held accountable and are required to give back to others who were in their shoes 9 months earlier. i like that… it is not just a quick fix or a hand-out, but a life changing gift.
we did it!!!
our medals has this verse inscribed on it: “and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in darkness and your night will become like the noonday.” Is 58:10
i was hoping for that here.
i’m sure there will be more later, but for now this is getting to be a long post so, let me say thank you , thank you, thank you for your words of encouragement and support. your light shines bright!