Friday, August 31, 2012

RAGBRAI Reflections

You didn't really ask for it but here it is anyway... Some of my daily reflections on my 2nd annual RAGBRAI experience.
My cousin Norm (and his kids in the back of his van) picked me up from our campsite then Norm & his wife fed me dinner at their house.
Travel Day:  We rode the bus from Pella to Sioux Center.  The trip took about 5 hours.  Great group of riders with the Pella Cycling Club this year.  My cousin Norm had me over for the evening meal with his family.  We had a great time together.  It was already quite warm - we could tell it was going to be a HOT week of bike riding.

Orange City - where I was born back in the day!

Day One: Sioux Center to Cherokee. It was an easy day of riding: fairly flat with "only" 54 miles to cover.  The highlight of the day was going through Orange City, my birthplace back in 1966.

In Orange City with Grant (left) and Dick (center)

Day Two: Cherokee to Lake View.  Again it wasn't that tough of a day - 62 miles and not much for topography.  But the temperature was outrageous - over 100F!  Our campsite in Lake View was not far from the beach so I went swimming - TWICE!  We had a good church meal - we had to wait a long time in line but the food was tasty & they had A/C.  Bonus!

This jersey fits great & reminds me of friends in Holland, Michigan.

Day Three: Lake View to Webster City.  Every RAGBRAI has an optional century day and this was it!  We started extremely early (5AM) to beat the heat.  I actually set my alarm for 3:45am so I'd have time to get ready.  The ride ended up being well over 100 miles - 106 miles to be exact.  And we had plenty of hills - 3 crossings of the Des Moines River valley.  The last few miles was a death march because we had a wicked headwind coming out of Lehigh and the roads were very rough.

My friend Dick & I enjoyed RAGBRAI for the 2nd straight year.

Day Four: Webster City to Marshalltown.  My legs were dead from yesterday's death march.  I had very little climbing power.  One fun part about today is that I was riding with my friend Dick and we bumped into Tony from Bloomington, IL.  He was an expert triathlete who immigrated to the USA from Tripoli (remember "The Shores of Tripoli"?).  It was a long day of nearly 80 miles but we made it eventually.  The highlight was meeting my wife Rose and our daughter in Marshalltown.  We went swimming together at the local aquatic center.  Fun times!  Great way to cool off on a hot day.  After the swim, we went out with the 3 of us and Dick to Perkins and while we were there a massive storm blew threw town.  Massive winds and lots of rain.  We got back to camp and it was a mess.  Tents were blown away and everything was soaked!  It was tempting to head home with my family to Pella but I was too stubborn to quit.

Pizza from the back of this fire engine.  Delicious!

Day Five: Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids.  This was a huge day of 85 miles.   I was beginning to lose motivation - had quite a few stops and the pace suffered.  A few highlights: there was this pizza oven in the back of an old fire engine that made some incredible wood-fired pizza.  Once we got to Cedar Rapids - we could stay inside a church with A/C.  And the Counting Crows gave a big concert downtown by the river.  Awesome!

The accordion band!

Day Six: Cedar Rapids to Anamosa.  It was a short day of only 40 miles.  We were in no rush to finish so we went 3 miles and had breakfast in the Czech Village.  They had some delicious ethnic food and a talented accordion band.  Once we got to Anamosa (and it didn't take long) we found our campsite which was by a golf course.  We could just hang out there because they had a decent cover band and some good food.  It was like legitimate camping with lots of grassy sites and woods all around.

Anamosa has a large Iowa state prison

Day Seven: The last day took us from Anamosa to Clinton.  Everyone is in a hurry to get to their bus so it's not as much fun as the other days.  The good thing is that I finally got my legs back after having dead legs on days 4, 5 and 6.  I felt great!  The weather was a little cooler too.  The only problem was that in our little group of three (Dick, Darla, and me) we had 3 flat tires.  Three!  So that was some adversity to overcome.  God helped us through it all though and we worked together to get to the Big River and the place where you dip your front tire in the water.  It was an emotional experience knowing that we finished what we started.  Many of our group took naps on the bus after biking nearly 500 miles in one week's time.

Tire dipping - I was careful not to drop my bike in the River!

I rode most of the week with friends Darla (center) and Dick (right)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who donated to Pedal for Prisoners.  It was a tremendous success!  Over 200 people contributed to this great cause and we blew away our goal of $20,000 by several thousand dollars.  Praise the Lord for the generosity of His people!  Thanks so much!

New Life is grateful for its generous supporters!

It wasn't easy - but we did it!

Pedal for Prisoners Photos

On July 28th we finished our 471 mile journey from Sioux Center to Clinton, Iowa.  It was a challenging week to say the least.  We battled hills, headwinds, HEAT and even a few flat tires.  Pedal for Prisoners is a fundraising effort for New Life Prison Community.  We ride RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) in order to support the Gospel ministry to prisoners in Newton.  Here are a few pictures from our epic bike ride.

Pastor Rick in Anamosa 

Friends: Dick (left) & Pastor Rick (right)

Darla & Dick clowning around in Anamosa

In Orange City with Dick (center) and his son Grant (left)

One morning I devoured a burger for breakfast!

We became experts at fixing flats

Taking a little break for food and drink

In Sioux Center the night before the Big Ride began

It was HOT!

Corrine & her son Kevin - he made breakfast for the riders

Corrine & a big group of friends had breakfast at her son's house in Orange City

There were no shortage of flat tires to fix

Our support vehicle - Da Bus

Many of us rode with the Pella Cycling Club

Campsite along the way

Pastor Rick dips his front tire into the Big River

We made it to the River!

Alabaster Jar

Here's an article that I wrote for the Pella Chronicle.

    Pella Chronicle Article

And here's a music video that connects with the alabaster article.

Also the related Bible text.

    Luke 7 - Alabaster Jar Text

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Blessing for a Journey

On the bus ride to Sioux Center (start town of RAGBRAI) and on the bus ride from Clinton (finish town of RAGBRAI), I read selections from the Contemporary Celtic Prayer Book.  One selection that caught my eye was the Blessing for a Journey.  It's not surprising that this particular Irish verse captured my attention.  I was on a journey to Sioux Center.  I was on a journey by bike from Sioux Center to Clinton.  I was on a journey home.  Isn't life a journey in many ways?  
While I read, my thoughts reflected (in parentheses) on the reading...

Blessing for a Journey (page 106)

May the road rise to meet you.  (Lord, let it be so.)
May the wind be always at your back.  (It is not always so.)
May the sun shine warm upon your face.  (Feel the warmth!)
And the rain fall soft upon your fields.  
                              (Water them, Lord, and bless the harvest.)
And until we meet again, (May it be so.)
May you be held in the palm of God's hand.  
                              (Amen and Amen.  Hallelujah!)