Took my last ride of 2017 today. It has been quite a year – a year of new experiences and learning. I rode 7,020 miles on my bikes this year (road bike and mountain bike). Rode mostly road rides with groups, rode a few solo road rides, one road rally, and a few off-road trips on my mountain bike.
The year began with a goal of riding 5,000 miles. Then by late spring, I realized I could make 6,000 miles. So I stretched to a new 6,000 mile goal.
During the spring, I moved up to a more advanced riding group as I learned more about road biking and became more fit. I began the year riding Plano Bicycle Association’s DB2 group (Distance Builder 2). Around springtime I moved up to the PBA DB1 group (Distance Builder 1). DB1 rides a 18.5 – 19.5 mph average rolling speed and rides using a paceline formation. I learned how to ride in a paceline (a constantly rotating group of road riders who maximize their efficiency by taking measured turns leading the group and taking turns drafting off of each other). The group shares the load of the hard of leading up front. You can go much faster and much farther with a group or a team that works together. This is true outside the biking world as well.
My last daughter Lauren graduated from Baylor University in May. What a great feeling to get all your children through college – a significant life milestone.
Then summer hit – and it was a doozy!
Riding and camping in Palo Duro Canyon.
I drove to Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo Texas and rode in the canyon with a college friend David Connel and his wife Amy. David and I had lost contact after college, but reconnected on Facebook. We saw (via Facebook posts) that each other was riding off-road, and said, “Let’s ride.” I suggested a camping and biking trip to Palo Duro Canyon. It was a wonderful trip. See trip photos and details here.
Then later in June I broke my ribs (a wave runner accident – not a biking accident). A friend and I lead a group of teenaged boys in Bible study in the youth group at our church. We took the group of 9th grade boys to my friend’s lake house for a “lake day” – a day of swimming, tubing, wave runners, eating and enjoying the summer time. I let a 14 year old boy drive me on a wave runner. We were going about 40 mph when he took a hard turn that dumped us both off the wave runner and into the water. The student skimmed across the water landing about 15 yards away. I must have hit the side of a wave, and rather than skimming across the water, I stopped immediately, crushing the left-hand side of my torso. It knocked the breath out of me. After checking to make sure the student was OK, I turned my attention to the pain in my ribs. This was not the first time I had broken my ribs – I was familiar with the pain and knew immediately that they were broken. After recovering the wave runner, I slowly pulled myself aboard and called it a day. The student felt badly and apologized profusely. I told him I loved him and forgave him. Ministry is not always clean (and this is one example). But sharing with students about Jesus is worth so much more than any temporary pain.
I had planned on riding my first ever bike road rally the next morning. I had promised to ride the rally with a friend and really wanted to ride in it, so I dragged my broken body out of bed and rode the 60 mile rally in pain. In retrospect – not a great idea. My wife Susan gave me the business for riding the morning after my injury. In addition, she wanted me to avoid getting hurt anymore before my daughter’s upcoming wedding. So I stopped riding in order to heal.
That rib injury put a crimp in my riding plans – broken ribs have an 8-10 week recovery – a real setback for me. I was concerned about making my annual mileage goal. So I rode a stationary bike indoors at the city of Plano recreation center – much less pain involved than riding with broken ribs on a road bike. I counted the miles logged on the stationary bike, adding it to my mileage total. It was a ten weeks before I got back on the road bike, having missed most of the summer’s biking season. I am thankful for the miracle of healing – it is a great wonder to me how God designs our bodies to heal and rejuvenate.
My youngest daughter Lauren married Ben Cork in late August. With three daughters, this was my first time to be father of the bride, and it was wonderful. Ben is everything one would want in a son-in-law – he is a believer in Christ, loves Lauren, works well with others, and is a friend to many. Ben and Lauren moved to San Jose, CA and are adjusting to their new life as newlyweds. Susan and I pray for Ben and Lauren as they make their way in the world.
Ben and Lauren Cork (photo credit Ashlee Huff Photography)
My oldest daughter Julie moved from North Carolina back to Plano in the early fall and moved in with us for several months. She found a job as a people recruiter for a local recruiting company. It is good to have her back in the area.
I replaced my old, worn-out Bible with a new one in September. I had to admit that I was aging and, as such, ordered a large print Bible in a new translation (the ESV translation). I suffer from the 55 year old’s vision impairment that is corrected with reading glasses. So I was destined for a large print Bible. It took me several months to transfer my notes from my old Bible to the new one. Transferring my notes was a trip down memory lane, remembering many of my life’s spiritual markers, reminiscing about what God had taught me through the years and being reminded of God’s deeds and wonders. God’s word is filled with his promises and his wonders.
My mother is 86 years of age and I spend a significant part of my time during the year helping her (doing her shopping, helping her around her apartment, running her finances, taking her to doctors, ordering her medications, etc). She is becoming increasingly dependent as she ages, and so my calendar is becoming more filled with activities supporting her. If I had to do it by myself, I would do it poorly. But I have the help of sisters who keep me straight.
I discovered a bike riding group that meets on Tuesday and Thursday mornings in the Plano area. I ride with them – much safer than riding alone. I ended up riding three times a week – Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. This bumped up my weekly mileage to about 150 miles a week (for the weeks I was able to ride).
Riding 150 miles a week takes quite a bit of energy. So this summer I created a recipe for Mark Bars – a protein and fuel bar that helps me bike hard. It is good for athletic endeavors – easy to eat quickly (on a ride), digests well, tastes great, and provides the energy needed to ride. It took several batches to get the recipe just right – a combination of oats, nuts, coconut and other healthy ingredients. It was fun using my creativity and tweaking the recipe. I throw one in my pocket, eat it on the road and it gets me home.
My new son Ben rides and has experience working in a bike shop. He gave me a bike tuneup for Christmas and has been super helpful, telling me about useful gear, answering my bike mechanic questions, and teaching me about bike maintenance (derailleur and gear tweaking, chain maintenance and changing, disk brake maintenance, replacing cables, etc) . This year I have learned about riding strategies, road bike gear and road bike maintenance. I am a lifelong learner and love to learn about bikes and biking.
All of my children were home for Christmas – what a blessing that they would take time from their active lives to spend it with Susan and I. We visited, ate lots of food, put together a Christmas puzzle, went to an escape room, watched some movies and shared life. Good times.
I feel blessed with a wonderful year of safe riding – no bike riding accidents. God has blessed me. What a blessing to have the health to ride. My wife Susan has always supported my biking efforts – and for that I am thankful.
What I learned this year…
- You can go much faster and much farther with a group or a team that works together.
- Letting teenaged boys drive you on a jet ski or wave runner is risky business. Don’t let them drive you – instead, drive them and stay in control. 🙂
- Ministry is not always clean – it can get dirty. But the mess is worth it.
- When working towards a goal, be flexible. When things don’t work as anticipated, flexibility allows you to make goals despite setbacks.
- God’s word is filled with his promises and his wonders.
- Pray for your children – they can always use it.
- Be a life-long learner.
- Being thankful allows you to see God at work.
Best wishes for a wonderful New Year!!!