Day 46 – Thessalon to Massey – 125k
Aug 09, 2005
I’m sitting here at 6:17 am watching the sun rise in the pink eastern sky. Hope. Everything is waking up and the east is calling me forward.
The first neurons to collide in my cranium this morning generated thoughts of my wife Fran and my son Edward; I get to see them again this weekend; 5 weeks apart from each other! I’ve never been away this long before and the yearnings are both deep and strong. They’ve gone ahead of me and they’re pulling me home.
Heading east today, and the immediate future is a place I’ve never been before; Massey, Ontario. In a sense, it pulls me as well. The destination, the future, has the power to do that. I remember reading a Brian MacLaren book (I think) where he talked about the concept of the future from a spiritual point of view. The future, with God in it, is not this apersonal reality that passively waits for the present to inhabit it. It’s different, it’s alive, it beckons, it calls, and it waits for us; like a dad waits for a newly mobile toddler to take those first steps across the living room floor toward him, like a wife and son wait for their loved one to arrive in Owen Sound, like a God who watches his creation work it’s way eastward.
Fran and Eddy’s hearts (I can see him counting down the nights on his chubby little Down Syndrome fingers right now); they are a pointer to the heart of God. A heart filled with promise; a heart that I can latch onto with hope. What could I ever be afraid of when that’s the heart behind the Future that waits for me? Owen Sound (who’d have thought I’d ever have felt that way about Owen Sound!)… Halifax… heaven. Only three more sleeps…
Later that day… 125k… 41 degrees with the humidity(really, it’s scalding)… tail wind… rode most of the day solo… in by 12:30 pm.… no cold water in the showers (really, they’re too scalding to use – quite a change!)… sleeping in a community centre in the middle of non-descript, Northern Ontario nowhere.
People are now sitting around plotting their plans for this afternoon. Some are going to a provincial park near by; it has a waterfall. Others (including myself) are thinking a walk into ‘downtown’ is in order. Iced cream… iced barley, whatever… I think I’ll go with them… if they let me. “Can I come?” I ask, “Yeah certainly,” says Jim.
Talk about a sweaty walk… but the chocolate shake was worth every cent. During our excursion we talked about the moment where you first came to realize that you loved biking. For Lynn it was somewhere near Winnipeg; on this very ride! Wow, a new convert walking right beside me. Later, eating ice cream, we talked about ‘food memory’. Bubble Gum ice cream reminded Amy of family vacations. Spagetti is a ‘birthday memory’ for Sonia.
While in the general store I discoverd that the Sudbury Star did a front page article on the ride on Monday! Link to Story
For the first time this tour, the story that I was hoping would get out, got out. They reported on the many and varied ways God has revealed himself on this cycling tour. First rate piece entitled, “God’s face in the north”. Very affirming. I am convinced that one of the big reasons this ride is happening is so that this message gets out there. Show Canadians where God is already at work in their world, in the gift of sport/cycling, in community, in nature, in a free country, in our prosperity, in our ‘socially conscious’ generousity toward others, etc… Show them this and let the Spirit of God do the rest in terms of affirming his authorship of truth and beauty in these places. Home run.
I hope many more stories of this ilk get told in the upcoming month.
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 10 2005 @ 09:39 AM PDT
Thank you for your relfective thoughts today. I'm part of THE JOURNEY - a Kitchener, ON church plant. This tour reminds me that God is working in many places - not only little old Kitchener.
God’s face is in the North
Aug 08, 2005
By Rob O’Flanagan/The Sudbury Star
Local News - Monday, August 08, 2005 @ 11:00
Sitting on a bench by the river, listening to the Tragically Hip, Pastor John Van Sloten was seeing God in the Northern Ontario landscape. He has seen much evidence of the Creator, he said, since setting out — with more than 100 others — on an epic bicycle pilgrimage across the country.
Van Sloten is one of the leaders of a Christian Reform Church bike trek going from coast to coast. It began as a 100-year anniversary celebration of the church in Canada, and as a way to raise funds to build new churches in communities across the country. But the scope of the ride has changed and grown to embrace the whole of humanity.
While sitting by the river in Sault Ste. Marie, Van Sloten, pastor of the New Hope Church in Calgary, told The Sudbury Star the journey’s focus has expanded to help eradicate poverty in our world.
“This drive, this ride, is a spiritual quest,” Van Sloten said.
“I had no idea it would be that going into it. We’re seeing God’s face all over the place during this thing — in the wild flowers that richly populate the ditches with such beauty and such colour, and in the rain-soaked surface of a rock-face as we were making the ascent into Rogers Pass.”
Whether in the pouring rain or blistering heat, Van Sloten said cyclists are overwhelmed with the joy and exhilaration that comes with transcending the limitations of the self and achieving a common goal.
“I’m a pretty individual, prima donna, do-it-on-my-own kind of guy, so to get into a situation where you can’t do it on your own, where you need and depend on others, that is a metaphor of the whole Christian story,” he said. “None of us can do it on his or her own — we need a little bit of help from God.”
The Sea to Sea with the CRC bike tour left Vancouver on June 25 and has now reached the halfway mark en route to Halifax. The team is expected to reach Espanola Tuesday or Wednesday, and will head to South Bay Mouth on Manitoulin to catch the ferry for southern Ontario.
The tour is formally endorsing a campaign to reduce poverty in Canada and around the world. “Make Poverty History” is an international initiative — involving more than 50 countries — calling on world leaders to act now to end poverty.
Go to www.makepovertyhistory.ca. to find out more, or to www.seatosea.org to learn more about the tour.
“If God created it all, then the Artist’s fingerprints have to be everywhere — in the community, in the people, in the natural world that surrounds us, in the gift of cycling,” said Van Sloten. “Our church really believes that God is into biking — that leisure, play, journey and adventure are gifts from God that humanity is meant to live out and celebrate.”
Two-thirds of the world’s countries have huge national debts, he explained. They need help to get out from under those crushing debts.
“We are asking people to go to the Make Poverty History website, send an e-mail to Paul Martin and tell him to keep his promise to Bono to forgive some Third World debt.
“Church is changing, at least in our denomination,” he added. “I preach Metallica, I preach Vincent Van Gogh, I preach The Simpsons and Lance Armstrong. I preach seeing God in everything in this world.
“Sure, everything is a bit broken, but there is an innate goodness and beauty and wonder and awe in our world, and that’s what we are accentuating.”
Link to PDF of same interview
Day 45 - Thessalon... later that lazy day
Aug 08, 2005
Later that day… Don’t know if I can stand any more of these pre-noon arrivals on site. Thessalon is a lovely little hamlet and all, but there is nothing to do around here, except blog! Today’s ride lived up to its short and sweet billing; it was uneventful and unphotographed. So far Lake Huron can’t hold a candle to Lake Superior in terms of beauty.
Right now it’s 4:15 on site… the sun is beating down on us, its 36 degree with the humidity and everyone moving at a moseying kind of pace. Clare’s carrying a towel as he heads to the shower (to lather up that moustache of his!). A shirtless Adam just called me a computer geek as he walked the other way. Another Claire just arrived on site and is setting up her tent. She, along with several others, had to wait in the Sault for a bike store to open to make some repairs. Several others are recovering in their tents. Three people have a pretty severe stomach flu going on right now. They all did the ride today. Makes you thankful for good health… and long lazy days.
Authored by: Helena on Tuesday, August 09 2005 @ 08:08 AM PDT
We enjoy reading your journal every day! Maybe if you have some time on your hands today you could post some pictures. We love to see them.
Day 45 – Sault Ste. Marie to Thessalon – 78 k
Aug 08, 2005
What a weekend; short day preceding it and short day following it. We’re told that today’s ride is relatively flat and easy. The feeling in camp right now is very relaxed, no one’s moving too fast, and smiles as warm as the sunny morning we’re all basking in. Nice change from the normal am. freneticism.
I can’t believe we’re heading into week seven of this tour. Already there are feelings of sadness at the thought of ending this thing. The week ahead is a short, easy one, we’re told. After doing the hills north of Superior most rides would seem so, I guess.
I just had a rider come up to me asking about the upcoming service in Guelph. He wanted to know all the details; “Who was speaking?... Do they know that there might be hundreds of unchurched people there?... There maybe people there who’ve never been to church before, are we going to be sensitive to them? I’ve got friends coming!” My first words to him were, “I love your heart in this man, if only more of us would be asking these kinds of questions; having this kind of ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ kind of heart.” We do need to develop sensitivities in how we do church; in our use of language, in what we assume they know about the bible, in the way we engage and talk about the world, in our relevance, in the way we open up our tight knit communites… I could go on.
How else will people come to know God? What else are we supposed to be doing as a church. Christ incarnated (came to us… became a human being). We need to do the same (with our words, assumptions and love)
I do hope and pray that Guelph is ready for these visitors. I hope and pray that we all are as the Christian Reformed Church.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 08 2005 @ 05:31 AM PDT
We are all looking forward to the Guelph Celebration Rally! I'm sure that along the route from Tobermory to Guelph you'll have people either riding along or waving their encouragement as you bike by.
Through the blogs that are posted, we're riding along beside you. Keep pumped...we are praying for you all!
John...Ontario pictures? Album empty? Just a hint...if you got time. :)
Day 44 – Rest day in the Soo – 0k
Aug 07, 2005
Absolutely awesome day! Got away from the tour at 9:00 am and just returned to the site right now (5:30 pm.) I went downtown to wander for a while; see what comes up. One of the first buildings I passed was an old United church. The service was starting in 45 minutes, so I walked halfway down the block, read my book for half an hour and then made my way into the stained glass filled sanctuary. It was beautiful. As was the service; it closed with a hymn that was quite meaningful to me, one that was very much a part of my calling into career #2 (the ministry) 12 years ago. The preacher dude also talked about how he thought golf was a gift from God… hmmm, I guess so... next to cycling.
I then headed out and walked along the St. Mary River separating the Canadian Soo from the American Soo. I sat there listening to the Hip while watching a big Laker slowly move its way through the lock system. It must have taken an hour to move 1000 metres. Strangely enjoyable time; a non-substance based buzz. When you do life with music in the background everything takes on this ‘music video’ kind of feel. It’s enhanced. Sort of like the difference between black and white and colour; or between living with a personal knowledge of God or not. While sitting there the Sudbury Star called and we had, what I thought was, one of the best interviews re: the tour yet. The guy asked all kinds of questions about the spirituality of the ride; where we’ve seen God in the journey. We must have spoken for 15 minutes. He ended the conversation by recommending I go down the road to Willesville (on route) and see, what he estimates, is the most God glorifying place in the world; these amazing quartz hills, worn away by an ice age or two. He cycles there!. Very cool.
I then ran into a local mall, found a theatre, and watched ‘War of the Worlds’. Wait for the DVD. Not sure if I’ll preach the film or not. Could probably look at the ‘yearning for something bigger out there’ angle.
Interestingly I found I was seeing all kinds of disabled people all day long. Three with Down Syndrome, one man with a terribly deformed face, many in wheel chairs, several severely challenged… made me wonder if there was some kind of ‘old school’ institution in the neighbourhood. I had just read in my book about how things were broken in the world, and here’s the proof right in front of me; not to mention the three very elderly, sickly and ashen looking folks I saw in the pharmacy, or the many severely overweight individuals walking the mall, or the many bored looking teens, or the street people hanging near the church doors…or me.
Got back to the site for a steak dinner, and right now Jordan V. is sitting beside me listening to some U2… “It’s a beautiful day… don’t let it get away…” Yeah.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 08 2005 @ 10:56 AM PDT
Looking forward to seeing you on the weekend.
I bet you are remembering how beautiful northern ontario is! Ok, well I know muskoka is.
Sorry, nothing deep from your sister, but we are thinking of you.
Day 43 – Pancake Bay to Sault Ste. Marie – 79 k
Aug 06, 2005
Very short and relatively uneventful bike ride today. In town before 11:00 am. Now what? What does one do in the Soo when one has no vehicle(that doesn’t require shammy shorts!)? Maybe a movie? Maybe a nap?
After the nap… Got to take a few parting photos of Superior this morning. The only really unique part of the ride today was the fact that I wanted to stop and get off my bike at one point. It was a fairly steep grade, but not the steepest, on a 1.5k climb, not the longest, and yet I wanted to stop. I think it had to do with my expectations for the day. Knowing it was short and not hearing about any grade concerns, I expected a total cake walk. For the most part it was, except for this hill.
Hmmm… when I expect easy and get ‘a bit of hard’, the hard seems harder. And when I expect brutal and get ‘a bit of hard,’ the hard seems easier; like yesterday. So should I always expect the hard so that I will be pleasantly surprised? A lot of people live life that way. Only you’ll probably become a bit cynical when you choose this worldview, I would think. Maybe it’s best to go into the day with no expectations, good or bad. Take it as it comes. A few weeks back I came to realize that if I’d known how intense some of the riding for this tour was before I signed up, I never would have signed up. Sometimes ignorance does beget a blissful kind of boldness. And it allows you to do more than you normally every would. Maybe that’s why God doesn’t let us see the future in our lives; why he runs life on a need to know basis. If we knew the day of our death, about that tragedy coming up, about the bad thing that would be happening this afternoon, we’d never leave the house. Finiteness as a gift. Hmmm…
I think I’m getting way too philosophical right now… better drop myself down a few levels on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and go get something to eat!
On the way out of the parking lot, listening to the ‘Sultans of Swing’, Micah comes a runnin up behind me to tell me that a reporter from the Sault Salter (yeah) was looking to do a story. We did the story, took a big group pic, and then I caught the laundry shuttle. Kinda fun. Shared a washing machine with Jordan (cause I’m getting paid while I’m on this ride and many of the youngins aren’t), and went over to the A & P for some ice cream. Then I got back to some Dire Straits… a bag full of hot laundry as a pillow, lying down on the asphalt sidewalk between the Laundromat storefront and the parking blocks, looking up into a ‘true blue dream of a sky’, filled with whispy clouds, a seagull flying by, way way up there… looked like he was in no hurry, just meandering through space and time.
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 06 2005 @ 08:19 PM PDT
Seems that long bike rides makes philosophers of (some) people. We should all ride more and longer.. Nice of John V to share his ruminations with us more earth bound types. Obviously a lot more than distance is being conquered on the SeaToSea ride and we on the side lines are envious. But we ride with you all in spirit. Keep riding and keep talking to us. THANKS firstname.lastname@example.org
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 06 2005 @ 07:09 PM PDT
Hi This is Ed & Marian Prins from New Hope - now living in Barrie. We plan to come to Guelph next
Sunday, so sure hope to see you there!!
Day 42 – Wawa to Pancake Bay Provincial park – 150 (supposedly grueling) kilometers
Aug 05, 2005
Groping. It’s the one thing you need to get used to on a trip like this, especially in the morning, especially when you’ve just crossed a time line or, like this morning, you wake up with your tent on the floor of a hockey arena. It’s so dark that you can barely see a thing… and you grope. Grope for the first things first; bag balm, shorts and a jersey. Patting my hand around my tent floor I quickly found where I’d left the jersey and shorts. I moved them onto the mattress and dug into my duffle bag for the balm. While digging, both my shorts and my jersey ran away and hid in another part of the tent. All balmed up and no where go. I must have groped around that tent for 5 minutes, they were gone. I’m not sure how it happened but soon I had every bit of stuff from my duffle bag out onto the tent floor; feeling everything for that familiar spandex feel. Nothing. Finally I found my flashlight… ahhh… but still no luck. Where’s my stuff? Eventually I realized that I was sitting on them. (Yeah, and since I’ve go no feeling down there, I never noticed!)
Later that day… how many times can I write these words… another spectacular cycling day. Huge hills, great tail wind and the most amazing Lake Superior views. Since Rob and Sherry were off to a wedding, I had to find myself some other riding partners. Ended up biking with the tandem cyclists Peter and Marja, and with Henry (my brother in law). Probably the best day of the tour in terms of getting some serious biking done. And to be honest, it surprised me. I knew that these cyclists were slow climbers all around (like me), but I had no idea how much they booked it on the flats and on the descents. It threw me for a loop. Normally I’m the big guy in the group who glides effortlessly down a hill and passed all the feather weights. Today I was the featherweight; imagine that! I could not pedal fast enough to keep up on the downhills; 55… 65 kph, it didn’t come close. We’d covered 100k by just after 11:00 am! I was into camp before 2:00 pm. Unheard of. The last 10k of the ride, we averaged close to 40 kph. What am I becoming? Some sort of monster?
Getting into camp this early was totally alien to me (and to others… they kept looking at me strange… one asked if I’d held on to the equipment trailer the whole way… some seemed to have their confidence visibly shaken… “If John is already in…”) So, what do you do with 4 hours til dinner? I actually sat and read for a while… luxury. The book started with these words, “I once listened to an Indian on television say that God was in the wind and water, and I wondered at how beautiful that was because is meant you could swim in Him or have Him brush your face in a breeze…” Kind of nice to read as I’m looking out over this amazing lake, feeling Superior’s powerful winds.
Then Henry and I went for a pre dinner snack, ice cream, chocolate milk and a burger.
Oh, and the most meaningful moment of the day. Doing some huge hill out of Montreal River singing an old church hymn, ‘Great is thy Faithfulness’ There’s a line in the old tune that says, “All I have needed Thy hand hath provided…” referencing how God takes care of us (in case you needed clarification). As I’m sweatingly singing, I can’t get past, “All I have needed…” without totally choking up. ‘All I have needed…” Everything I’ve ever needed for life I’ve gotten; I have. It’s overwhelming when I think about it, my family, a great job, a home, this amazing and intimate knowing of God… the strength to make it up a big hill… water and wind… all on one of the best bike riding days ever. ‘All I have needed’ I swam in the thought of it.
Authored by: andreww on Friday, August 05 2005 @ 03:02 PM PDT
I am glad to hear that all is well on the tour. I have been following along for most of the trip and I find myself wishing I was with you. Unfortunately I am confined to my desk hunting for new work for Alpha. I just wanted to thank you for the comment today as I needed the reminder of "all that I have needed" has been provided even in the tough times. I wish you well and my prayers are with you allways.
Authored by: Warren on Friday, August 05 2005 @ 07:00 PM PDT
I never leave messages on phone machines or reply to blogs, but have been following your progress with interest through all the towns I drove through with my son Jeff (10 years ago) when we moved from Guelph to heaven.
I also read a short article in the Herald today about a Scottish pastor who has podcast his homilies on iTunes and had 2500 downloads this week! Better get in on this while it's hot! ("I have two words for you....pod cast").
Anyway, say hello to Art and Gerald for me and be safe,
Day 41 – White River to Wawa – 135k
Aug 04, 2005
6:30 am… whoever thought that humidity at night would be an enemy? We never have this kind of weather in Calgary. It’s still thick as molasses this morning. And the big conundrum in this kind of situation is the question of modesty. You want to sleep with no clothes on and with all flaps open, but it’s only dusk and there’s people walking all over the site. What to do? And yet it is so bloomin hot in that tent if you don’t; almost like a sauna. What to do? And then there’s the fact that the day you just rode has sapped all the life from you, including your will to do the right thing. Yet the right thing, from a visual sensitivity point of view, doesn’t seem all that right as the sweat beads form all over your body. What to do?
Anyways, enough about last night, it’s a new day now and I feel great. I had a very restful sleep last night, cool as a cucumber! Oh… except for when I woke once in the middle of the night to all kinds of bright flashes. Still groggy, I was sure it was the Paparazzi… but alas, then came the thunder.
Later that day… Well, we had to have one day of fairly serious cycling. 4 ½ hours riding time, tail wind, temperate, rain for ½ the ride, 130k, great cycling day!
While riding we did have a few deep theological discussions; one involved the reciting of sacred texts from memory. I started with ‘Green Eggs and Ham,’ the Rob chimed in with “Fox in Sox”… then I gave a brief sermon on “Are you my Mother.” Illuminating. It told them about how Neil Plantinga (big wig theology gig kind of dude) says that good children’s literature has huge pedagogical power for both the child being read to and the adult doing the reading. Seeing as I believe that all beauty, truth, and wisdom are God’s beauty truth and wisdom; the segue from Dr. Suess to the Spirit was no problem. Seriously, is there a more existential text than, “Are you my Mother?” It asks the two biggies; Who am I? and Where is my Mother? (all the New Hopers reading this are now gagging… here John goes again on this stuff…) But it’s important and it’s relevant. I think if more pastors took this kind of tack in their preaching, a lot more people might be interested in church. (Now, before you slam the idea, listen to one of the kids messages we did last year at our church... newhopechurch.ca, under ‘listen in’… yes, this is a shameless, self promoting plug, but since I have your ear.)
Today we arrived in site just after 1:00 pm… seeing as we usually lolly gag on our rides, we didn’t know what to do. I kept commenting to the others about the brightness of the sun in Wawa. We ended up having a coffee in a high end Wawa establishment; the local Macs. It was great sitting around a table with 3 bags of salt (chips) and some java. The we did some laundry, I took a nap, and the dinner horn has just been blown. Life is good.
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 04 2005 @ 04:59 PM PDT
this would be the Rob's mother, who read to him of the fox in sox. Really
enjoy reading your blog feel like we are with you in a special way. We
are really glad you had a better run. We send our love to Rob and
Chris and Ken
Day 40 - Terrace Bay to White River - Later that day…
Aug 03, 2005
Later that day… 35 degrees, high humidity, major hills for the first half of the day, head wind most of the time, 143 k. I almost ran out of gas 10k from camp… sweat was pouring into both eyes, at times I felt I couldn’t keep either open… I’d just taken a power gel 30 minutes before and still I felt like I was bonking… at the last SAG station someone offered me an ice tea… it was cold, full of sugar, sodium up the whazoo; and it got me home. Phew.
Had an interesting conversation with an Iranian guy who’s linked up with our crew for the past two days. Faz is a recently landed immigrant to Canada and is doing this ride before he settles down somewhere. Said he was checking out a few cities along the way. At one of the SAG stops he told me his story. Recently divorced in Tehran, he’d thought about moving away to Canada to start a new life. I could tell that divorce seemed to carry more of a stigma in his homeland. He began the process of applying for immigration… then decided that he’d stay home and stopped the application process. One night, he says, “I prayed to my God for clarity in terms of where I needed to go with my life.” The next day the immigration department phoned him, at home, at work and at his parents place, telling him that they wanted him to finish the application process asap. Very quickly and without any hassle he was approved. And now he’s in Canada.
We then talked about a very cool Iranian film called, ‘The Colour of Paradise.’ And he says, “God has allowed me to see heaven.” I looked perplexed and Faz then says, “I think Canada is heaven.”
Right after my iced tea I told that story to my riding mates. My legs got stronger.
Day 40 – Terrace Bay to White River – 130k
Aug 03, 2005
So this is what it looks like… it’s just after 6:00 am and there’s a tinge of pink on the south side of the eastern clouds. It’s that time halfway between night and day and already the camp is beginning to come alive. About 25 people are up and about, speaking in whispers so as not to wake the others. A lone seagull is encircling the camp. I’m sure it can hardly wait for us to leave.
Groups of bikes stand up against one another, three or four of them; about to be unleashed from their nighttime lockup. Lot’s of folks are swarming the mess tent, making lunches for the day ahead, grabbing breakfast, looking for a chair to sit in and eat that breakfast. A young rider, spying on my computer, comes over and asks me to check out the weather forecast on line. I check… 40% chance of showers this am. 60% change of thunder showers this aft. Another overhears and asks for the wind direction… from the south! “S%^&”, was his response. The information will now spread through the camp word of mouth I’m sure.
Lot’s of folks are now packing up their tents, shaking off the dew, folding up their poles, zipper sounds all over the place. More and more bags are being piled up at the equipment trailer door. The volume of the camp continues to rise as the morning wears on. Even the seagulls start their cries. The mosquitos are out in force this morning, and eating me alive. Time for second breakfast… we’ll see what the rest of today has in store.
Day 39 – Nipigon to Terrace Bay – 105k
Aug 02, 2005
“I am with you.” …with you as an individual person, struggling at times to finish the journey well… with you as a community of cyclists as you work your way through some pretty tough country… with you as a country Canada.
It was probably the most numinous of the numinous parts of the day yesterday. We were having a moment of silent prayer at the Terry Fox Memorial and it felt as through God was assuring me, us, all of us. I belong to God, we belong to God, Canada belongs to God.
Big hilly day today… will report back later…
Awesome day… bright, sunny, crisp, filled with beauty… and that was just my disposition. The north shore of Superior is an unparalleled ride. Huge hills with wicked grades, outstanding descents, tremendous vistas, great beaches, and an awesome café in Rossport for lunch. One of the top ten days of the ride for sure…
About 30k into the ride I had an awesome experience. Riding up a pretty good hill I came to a turn in the road and noticed this low lying cloud coming off Superior and moving slowly across the road. It would swoop over the riders ahead of me, just barely grazing their heads. Graceful. Almost like some kind of natural baptism. God saying, “You belong to me!” I rushed fast up the hill to make sure I didn’t miss out.
The rest of the day was filled with a newness that I hadn’t felt for a while. I started to notice the colour yellow again. I caught myself smiling a lot. Energy seemed high. What a difference a day can make.
Although there was one, more serious, incident that played out late in the day. I had been riding alone for an hour or so, just to do a bit of solitude… I know, it’s not safe to ride alone… but I just needed the space. At one isolated spot on the ride a group of thug riders came up quickly from behind. I knew their type. We’d had a few encounters before. Over the past few weeks they’ve taken to touching my butt as they quickly rode by me. They think its all in jest, butt it really bothers me. I feel like an object, a mere piece of meat. I know that the temptation to touch must be immense; intense at times, butt these young bucks should know better. I can’t help it things look as good as they do. They’ll even say I’m trying to flaunt things with my spandex and all. Poppy *censored*! I just wear it cause it makes me feel special. Anyway, this time they got theirs! As the first guy reaches over, his front tire hits the rear tire of the bike in front of him and he wipes out. Scraped knee, shoulder and ego. Serves the young lad right. After he got cleaned up, we could all see that things were going to be alright. Good news I guess; an ample warning.
Needless to say, I let them ride off before re-mounting my ride. No use leading them into temptation again.
Day 38 – later that day...
Aug 01, 2005
Later that day… a long but good day. Lots to report. First off, I had a bit of a breakdown this morning. Emotional that is. Right after I did my morning blog writing I went into my tent and totally lost it. Lost it as I really felt, for the first time, how irresponsible my riding had been on Saturday. I wondered if this whole ride was even worth it. I didn’t think I had it in me to ride today. And I had no one to talk to. I didn’t feel that I could approach anybody in such a weak state. All I could do was sit there on my air mattress in my tent with a pillow over my face. I finally decided I needed to talk to my wife Fran, only it was 5:00 am Calgary time; I wrote her an email instead. Strangely it did help; enough to get my butt in the saddle anyways.
A neat thing happened at the Terry Fox memorial. First off, I did the 30k to get there with ease, and that built a bit of confidence. Second, there was the sense of well being that welled up in me in just being there and reading the inscription on the monument. This young man had real, and serious problems to deal with and he possessed an amazing courage, and he ran half way across the country! Surely I can cycle this thing.
The most numinous part of the visit was a conversation that four of us had in the shade of a tree, while we waited for a team mate to change a flat.
Knowing that one of the four was still upset with me re: my near miss, thinking I was not taking it seriously enough, I told her about my losing it that morning. I could tell that she was relieved. Mike then spoke about his cousin who died at age 15 in a cycling accident; he’d actually called home after the tragic accident of last week and told his family that he’d come home if they wanted him to. They wanted him to stay. Then there was Carrie, who lost her brother in a freak thunder storm. I had just heard her story the night before and, after asking Carrie’s permission, told the others what had happened. The family was on a wilderness adventure together. Her brother was hit by lightning. Carrie’s MD dad did CPR for hours while an 11 year old Carrie watched. At one point during the CPR her brother did resuscitate and said he was fine. Then he died. I was in tears retelling the story. Carrie’s eyes were flush, along with the others. The moment was very beautiful; intimate. All of us had stuff… each of us needed one another.
Strange how I can cry before others with another person’s pain, but not my own. Perhaps this experience was a good first step.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 01 2005 @ 05:29 PM PDT
I have been reading your postings daily. I feel like I'm getting to know you. I have also even seen a lot of spiritual growth from all of the different experiences you are having. God uses all things for his good, and he will always give you the strength to go through difficult times. God Bless You. CJ from Courtice
Authored by: etta on Tuesday, August 02 2005 @ 02:17 PM PDT
Hey John...it's Etta. Every morning when I get to work I go straight to this site to read about your adventures. Most of the time I sit and chuckle at your honesty and spirit. I am always envious! Last week I was angry when I read about the roads you were on and the whole IPOD issue. I think you know where I stand with that. When I read your postings from this weekend you brought tears to my eyes. Please be safe. Remeber people have actually cycled through Canada without IPODs. The commuinty stuff - for me this would be my greatest challenge as well as the most beautiful gift. The bond that you have and will continue to make with the other cyclists will stay with you forever. As the trip becomes a beautiful memory these bonds will be become stronger and stronger. The little stuff that drives you crazy right now will be of no consequence when you remember it years from now. This is the summer of your lifetime - treasure it ..I know you are.
Take care, cry lots it is good for the soul, and come back to New Hope safely. You are in our thoughts and prayers every day. Cheers!
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