The Ride

What an amazing 12-year journey we had with the Canadian Bible Society. Met some fantastic people that taught me an awful lot and had some almost unbelievable adventures. I learned a lot about the history of this venerable old organization. I learned that it was once an extension of the British and Foreign Bible Society and then in 1906, became an independent organization and called itself the Canadian Bible Society. That meant that 2006 would mark its centenary. How would we mark this auspicious anniversary? Our district director from Edmonton proposed that we organize a bicycle trip across the country – from Victoria in British Columbia to St. John’s Newfoundland. Somebody should have drawn and quartered Bruce for suggesting such an insane project. The furthest I had ever cycled in one day was a little over 100 km. on a provincial Bike for Bibles project. A lot of difference between that and a journey of over 7,000 km.!

I bought myself a Norco highway bike, some cycling boots, and other accoutrements for the journey. Nobody has ever suggested that I am totally and completely sane. Iona had signed on to drive one of the vehicles in our entourage and off we went to Victoria to begin our adventure.

I had one more task before we left – I had to name my bike. I believed it had to have a feminine name, but not something fluffy or little girlish. It had to be tough. So, I called her Hildegard. Noting fluffy about a name like that. So, Hildegard and I started our journey.

Had a bit of a hiccup during my preparation time – I hurt my back and couldn’t cycle for about a month before the journey started. I thought a lot about training, but soon realized that thinking about training and training are not the same thing. We arrived in Victoria, and I wasn’t near ready for the task that lay ahead of us.

July 1, 2006, and we began our trek. We went to Mile 0, and I dipped my front tire in the Pacific Ocean. My first day and I surpassed my previous daily record for cycling – I pedalled for around 150 km. Now that is absolutely nuts. We were on our way. Each day was long and started at around 4:30 AM, not PM. We would pedal till lunch time, eat, and hit the road again. We arrived in Merit BC and went to the small church that had agreed to host us. We had around 85 cyclists as well as our support crew. We had 7 Aussies join us for the journey. The church was too small for all of us to spread out our sleeping gear and sleep in the church. Iona and I had a small tent and searched for a small patch of grass on which to pitch our tent. It was about the only bit of grass we could find on the church lot.

We blew up our mattress, spread out our sleeping bags for a short night’s sleep. My alarm was set for 4:30 the next morning. At about 2:00 we discovered why that particular bit of lawn was so green – automatic sprinklers turned on. We had a fly that covered the top of our tent. We woke up to a bit of a rainstorm inside our tent. The sprinklers hit just inside the top of our tent and dropped down on us. We were soaked in just a few minutes and had to leave our tent. In circumstances like that you can either cry or laugh. We chose to laugh. We hung up our sleeping bags and tent on a fence and tried to catch some sleep in our van. When we woke up, we were told that people had heard us laughing in the night and were wondering what it was all about. Another full day in the mountains lay ahead of us.

My lack of training came back to bite me on the butt. I just couldn’t keep up. One day I finally decided I would take a ride in the follow vehicle and rack my bike. I rode with Bill and Marlene as we moved through the mountains. Our train of cyclists was quite long. The lead cyclists had arrived at our lunch stop and were waiting for the rest of the group. Finally it was decided to pick everyone up that was still cycling, so they could have a bit of lunch and a little rest before resuming in the afternoon. Bill and Marlene had been told to pick the rest of the cyclists up and transport them to the lunch stop. We came up behind June who was pedalling like crazy but falling further behind with every rotation of her wheels.

We stopped and told her we needed to rack her bike and give her a ride to the lunch stop. No, she protested. “Please let me cycle up just one more hill. I know I can do it. I can’t get off my bike just yet.” Finally, we put her bike on a rack and she got into the truck for the ride to our lunch stop feeling defeated and a little depressed.

As I watched this little tableau I thought of the bike ride as a metaphor for life. I thought one day God would pull in behind me and stop and tell me it was time to rack my bike and go with him. Like June I would complain that I wanted to go just a little longer. I still could cycle, and I just wasn’t ready to call it quits.

In my mind’s eye, I could see Jesus walking toward me. I saw myself with my head hanging down and my helmet dangling from my hand, feeling totally defeated. I want to keep on cycling. I could see Jesus walking toward me and calling my name. My head would rise, and I would see Jesus as I never had before. His beautiful face would be radiating a smile that was brighter than a million million suns. He would reach out His hand and take mine and say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the reward that has been prepared for you.” And in that instant, all the pain and disappointment of the ride would disappear as I left this world behind to enter God’s magnificent kingdom. I was learning to keep the Son in my eyes.

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