The Substance of Faith

The Substance of Faith

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Yellowstone Cycling

Thanks to everyone who has been stopping by this week, looking for updates on the Yellowstone cycling trip.  I did not have opportunity to write a preview, and once we arrived in Montana/Wyoming, cell service and wifi were almost nonexistent – at least int he places where we were.

Check out the link to Lizardhead’s summary of the trip.

I’ll be posting a review of the trip over the next few days.


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Learned While Cycling

Three trips with Lizardhead Cycling have taught me some valuable  lessons.  The first comes from Lizardhead’s owner, John Humphries, pregame speech – the advice he gives to a group as they set out on a tour.  “The greatest accomplishments,” he says, “arise from overcoming adversity.”  According to John, the easiest days on a Lizardhead tour are rarely the most rewarding.  He says that our favorite memories come from the days we rise above difficulties and trials.

He’s right.  My most memorable days include day two of the Redrocks trip – the day which John says is the hardest on any Lizardhead tour.  For me, Redrocks II was the second time I ever rode more than a hundred miles in a day.  Others may ride 100 miles once a week; I don’t.  Additionally, Redrocks II came eight months after prostate surgery (seven moths after being able to sit on a bike) and three weeks after a blood clot behind my left knee.  I’m proud of that day.

Another favorite memory was getting back on the bike after a crash while descending Middlebury Gap in New Hampshire on day two of that vacation.  Of the three people who crashed that day, I was the only one able to ride again that week.  I missed day three of that trip, per doctor’s orders, but I rolled out with the group on day four.

My most memorable day from this year’s Willamette Valley tour was the last day, climbing McKenzie Pass.  I hate to climb.  My heart might as well have a governor on it; I can’t beat much over 140/minute, which is a real handicap on hills. McKenzie Pass was a 22 mile climb.   It’s not near as steep as the New Hampshire Gaps, but it is uphill all the way and a challenge for me.   There were no flat spots for the first 14 miles that I can recall.  Others may find it easy, but for me it was a  three hour slog at maximum heart rate.  And I did it, finishing strong at the top.  The big challenges produced the best memories.

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John Humphries comments about adversity remind me of a similar statement by Clayton Christensen in his book, “How Will you Measure Your Life?  “Self esteem,” says Christensen, ” comes from achieving something important when it’s hard to do.”   Christensen makes this statement in the context of parenting: “By sheltering children from the problems that arise in life, we have inadvertently denied this generation the ability to develop processes and priorities it needs to succeed….As I look back on my own life, I recognize that some of the greatest gifts I received from my parents stemmed not from what they did for me -but rather from what they didn’t do for me.”  [both quotes on p. 134]

As with many of my posts, the moral of the story is about parenting.  Children need challenges.  They need to solve hard problems.  Yet, this generation of helicopter parents thinks they are doing their children a favor by rescuing them from adversity. Today’s parents want to remove all obstacles from the paths of their sons and daughters.  They cajole extra time for a school project instead of allowing a child to complete a difficult project in the time allotted.  The allow children to watch while completing a science fair project for them, instead of requiring them to stay up late to finish it on their own.  They do their children no favors.

The Apostle Paul says, “…suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-5).  There are no shortcuts to character and hope.  They are qualities only derived from overcoming challenges and adversity.  A person can only overcome adversity by facing it. A person can only accomplish great things by attempting difficult things.    

Check your own memory.  What are some of your best memories of accomplishments?  I imagine they include overcoming a hardship or trial.  What adversity have you let your children handle by themselves?  As much as you want to whiled them from pain, you cripple them by swooping in for the rescue.  It may make you feel better about parenting, but it teaches children that they probably couldn’t have done it on their own.  It’s not the path to character or self esteem.



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Willamette Cycling – Monday


Joe and Cheryl Burch arrive at today’s lunch stop.

In the grocery store I’ve seen Oregon Blueberry’s.  In the hardware store I’ve seen Oregon grass seed.  Until today I never realized the diversity of Oregon’s agriculture industry.

Ed, Norris Broyles, and I started a few minutes early today, as slower riders are encouraged to do.  As soon as we passed out of McMinnville, we began to ride through a fertile countryside – every square in of which – appeared to be under cultivation.  The entire 48 miles today passed through fields of corn, fescue, and rye grass being grown for seed.  Or acres of onions, orchards of apples and pears, or interesting trellises of hops.  Several people stopped to pick blackberries on the side of the road.  And, of course, there were many, many vineyards.

The Texans passed us about an hour into the morning.

The Texans passed us about an hour into the morning.

After arriving in Silverton, several of us tried to recount all the crops we had seen.  Each one was able to remember an additional plants that others had forgotten.


On the road with Norris Broyles.  Norris rode with us last year in Vermont.

On the road with Norris Broyles. Norris rode with us last year in Vermont.

On paper, today’s  distance did not seem long, but at the end of the day, with a headwind picking up, it was enough.  The only climb of the day started with a testy little grade and turned into four miles of grinding out the pedal strokes.

Today’s ride was one of my favorite days on a Lizardhead trip.  The landscape was interesting, the weather was wonderful, and the view at lunch amazing.  Now we look forward to tomorrow’s “bike and hike.”

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Willimatte Valley Cycling – Sunday

Above:  Ed Hine cycles through crop dust after lunch on Sunday

Because we arrived at the hotel so late on Saturday night, we started the day greeting old friends from previous Lizardhead trips.  Of the 19 participants on the tour, 15 of us have ridden together on at least one, similar tour.


After breakfast and the pre-tour orientation from John Humphries, the owner of Lizardhead, we shuttled to the town of Banks where we offloaded the bikes and began our ride.  The landscape was gently rolling with a few small hills.  We passed through some rural residential areas and lots of farmland.

Lizardhead owner, John Humphries, talks to our guide, Emily, before the ride begins.

Lizardhead owner, John Humphries, talks to our guide, Emily, before the ride begins.

We were told that Oregon is bike friendly and motorists know how to share the road.  Evidently a few out of state drivers were driving the same roads we were on today.  We had our share of wheelie-popping motorcyclists and F-250’s passing two feet to the left and honking their horn.

Ironically it was hotter in Oregon today than in Rome.

We arrived in McMinnville about 4:00.



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Countdown to the Next Cycling Adventure

Five weeks until the we take on the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  I’m trying to get in 125 miles a week in preparation.

Another Lizardhead Cycling Adventure



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In Montreal

What a great city.  I’ve never been to Montreal before, but its Old City is similar to Europe in feel.

Everyone went different directions today – some took a bike tour of the city, while others explored on their own.

A few of us utilized the services of a guide for our own walking tour.  The Notre Dame Basilica was striking in its grandeur.   It appeared that a group organists were receiving instruction at the organ.  One played a piece and was very good.  Our guide said she came to the Basilica daily and had never heard the organ before.  I wished Joan Hill was there to play the Widor Tocatta.   We concluded the tour at the farmer’s market, where a couple of us ate lunch and then rode the Metro back to the hotel.

The celebration dinner is tonight and we ride AMTRAK back to Albany tomorrow before loading up the bikes and heading home.  I have more photos to  retrieve from Joe, which I will post soon.

It has been a great trip.  Once again we’ve met wonderful people, seen beautiful parts of our country and experienced things we would not have had we not come.  The ability to walk away from Monday’s accident reminds me how much we depend on God’s providence and how good life is.

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More Photos

My rear wheel

My rear wheel

Dan Greeson prepares for a day's adventure
Dan Greeson prepares for a day’s adventure



Chris as the first to take a spill Monday.  Here he is back in Columbus in his easy chair.

Chris as the first to take a spill Monday. Here he is back in Columbus in his easy chair.

Ed Hine triumphant after a climb

Ed Hine triumphant after a climb


Sunrise at the Trapp Family Lodge.  Wednesday night''s stay

Sunrise at the Trapp Family Lodge. Wednesday night”s stay


Tamara sends Jeff and Ed Watters off to the Canadian border from North Hero, VT.  No rain delay on Thursday, just ride.

Tamara sends Jeff and Ed Watters off to the Canadian border from North Hero, VT. No rain delay on Thursday, just ride.


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To Montreal

We Left North Hero Thursday morning.  The original plan was to shuttle everyone to the border, then ride the 40 miles to Montreal.  It was raining and the weather unstable, so about half the total group left on bikes from North Hero, in case the weather forced an early end to the day.  I rode in the van with Ed Hine, the Smather’s, and the Burch’s.

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It was still raining at the Canadian border, but Ed and I decided to take the chance.  The roads were the most flat and least traveled ones we had seen.  We hated the thought of not riding in Canada.  It turned out to be a good decision and we  had a great time rolling through cornfields and other rural areas.

Mid morning we came up on a small crash.  John from Ohio, Bill from Texas, and Ken from New Jersey got tangled up on the edge of the road and all three went down,  Ken got the worst of it,  He rode until the morning SAG stop and then got in the van.  The others who were invovled, finished the ride.

All in all today was my favorite day.

We rode the final 40 miles to the outskirts of Montreal and ate lunch.  In order to void the urban traffic Lizardhead then shuttled us to our Hotel, The Nelligan, in Montreal’s old city.  Friday  is a site seeing day.

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Smuggler’s Notch

Above:   Atop Smuggler’s Notch – Joe Takes “Shoeless” Ed Hine’s picture.  Cheryl puts her shoes back on after walking her bike up.  Ed Watters in the shade while guide, John Humphries, watches.

I was back on the bike Wednesday after taking Tuesday off.  Joe Burch made the commitment to watch me on my first day of riding after Monday’s spill.  Thanks, Joe.

Wednesday was the last hard day of the tour.  We rode up Smuggler’s Notch, starting just a few miles from the Trapp Family Lodge where we spent Tuesday night.  No photo can do justice to this climb.  Ed Watters logged 31% grade on the inside of one curve.  There was plenty of road around20%.   I’m not sure how to convey the difficulty of this kind of climb to anyone who doesn’t ride a bike.  Perhaps you should note that most highways warn trucks of a 7% grade or more.  Think 3-4 times steeper than that.

I think Jeff Smathers was the only person from Rome who rode all the way up.  Ed Watters was close, but had to walk his bike a short way.  Many of us walked 1/4 mile or more, some of us in our bare feet.  My camera did not survive Monday, so I’ll have to get photos from others and post them later.

Following the climb we had a long descent to lunch.  I was the most careful person on the way down.


Monday was very cool.  Having on multiple layers saved me from additional road rash.  Wednesday, however was brutally hot, particularly for Vermont.  We showed 95 degrees after lunch.  The news reported 90% humidity.  After the only climb of the afternoon, I decided to pack it in.  40 +/- miles following Monday’s events seemed like a good accomplishment to me – and the heat was more than I could handle.

We stayed on the shores of Lake Champlain in North Hero, VT.  Thursday we cross into Canada.  The weather is a little uncertain.  We had a thunderstorm Wednesday night and rain is predicted tonight and in the morning.   We’ll see what the day brings.

Thanks to everyone who has been interested and supportive of the trip.

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Ready to Roll

The bikes arrived first.  Ed Watters and I pulled in to Saratoga Springs on Saturday just after noon with bikes for all eight riders from Rome,  After unloading the SUV and storing the other six bikes we jumped on ours and took a quick ride around Saratoga Springs.  it was great to be out of the car after 14 hours of driving,   It rained later. but we had perfect weather for the ride.


When we returned to the Gideon Putnum,  the Smather’s, the Burch’s,  Ed Hine and four of Ed’s friends from Atlanta had arrived from the airport.   Later we meet Chris and John, two riders from Columbus, Ohio who had been on the Red Rocks tour two years ago.

The rest of the day was spent touring the battlefield at Saratoga, and an introduction to UGA football for the rest of the hotel guests provided by Ed Watters and Joe Burch.   Can you imagine that many New Yorkers had never heard fans bark?

Dan Greeson arrived with his daughter and son in law from NYC.  We enjoyed meeting them.

Now it is about time for breakfast.  We roll out at 9:00.

Prayers for John Uldrick who fills the pulpit at FBC today.


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