Hello everyone! It is Saturday, July 25, Day 34, I can’t believe it. We traveled from Wisconsin Dells to Fond du Lac, WI. I guess that means “the foot of the lake.” It was truly a beautiful ride today. We had our breakfast at 6, loaded by 6:45 and got on the road. I got on the road fairly early this morning, I was really ready to go. I knew that we had 83 miles, and from all the other mileage I just kind of wanted to give myself enough time to not get in too late today. I thought I’d ride a little slower today, just because I was really kind of tiring out. But to my great surprise, I really didn’t ride slow today at all. I had a really great ride, I had great strength. We did have some tailwind today, which was really helpful, and we had rolling acres of mileage and it was really, really beautiful. The sun was out, it was really a perfect weather day, and we didn’t have any difficult climbs today. The 83 miles turned out to be a really nice 83 miles to travel. It was really fun.
One of the things I was thinking as I was rolling out this morning, just down the road, kind of starting off. We all kind of start off and I really just love to start off with people and kind of see if we can ride the same pace and talk a little while and have a good morning out. I was really struck by something that might sound kind of strange to say, but it’s what I was thinking. I was thinking that on this ride, it’s kind of turned out to be like I feel like I’m kind of imprisoned, if I could put it that way. I’m imprisoned by the way that my body operates, and I really can’t change the way my body operates as a bike rider, as a cyclist. In other words, sometimes I’d really like to go slower so that I could visit with some of the people who ride a little bit slower. And sometimes I wish I could just ride faster so that I could ride with some of the people who ride faster. But I find that on any given day when I get out, I never know how I’m really going to ride, how my body’s going to feel once I get going, and a person really has to pace themselves at what they’re able to do for that day, or what they normally do. If it’s kind of what your body needs to do to go faster, you need to just go faster. So you can’t really pick and choose like I thought, talking to people and/or being with people that you want to. I like everybody on the team for this ride of America By Bicycle, but it’s just kind of nice if you haven’t seen certain people, you might want to ride with them because you just haven’t seen them or talked to them much in a while. It just doesn’t work out that way. You have to kind of do what your body is telling you to do. Sometimes it means that I’m riding alone. I always like who I’m riding with, it’s not that I feel like I’m stuck with anybody that I’m riding with. But I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes I feel badly that I just have to ride the way my body wants me to ride. Because if I ride too slow when my muscles kind of want me to go faster, it makes my muscles more tired to not go fast, if that makes any sense.
So it made me think today about that’s how I feel with my body, here I am being a cyclist and having a great adventure of being strong enough to be able to ride my bike across America, which is a real privilege and really special and a dream come true for me. But it did make me think about people who are in wheelchairs or are handicapped or imprisoned in their body in some way when they wish that they could be freer, or wishing they could do something they just can’t seem to achieve because of where they’re at in life or what is going on with their body that there’s really nothing they can do about. It’s just something they have to live with or it has to be. I just want to say I was thinking about you, whoever you might be out there, whether you’ve been wounded as a soldier for our country and what you’ve done for us, God bless you. Whether you’ve had an illness or an accident or something that has really changed your life where you just have to do what you have to do or you can’t do what you want to do because of your limitations or because of who you are. I guess what I realized today is, whether I like it or not, and there are a lot of things that I am thankful for for who I am, there are still things I don’t like about who I am and about what some of my limitations are, whether they’re physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual. I have limitations too, and I have real flat spots to my life. It’s encumbering and it’s disappointing and it can be very, very discouraging. But the interesting thing about riding mileage on a bike that I can relate so many things to is that one thing can be happening at one point, or I could be possibly riding alone because I needed to ride faster than the people I was riding with in the beginning that I’d like to stay with, but my body just wanted me to go faster, so I needed to just kind of do it and end up having to pull out and not be with them. Or I might not be able to ride with some other people who can go so much faster that I can’t even ride with them ever. But the truth of it is, it changes up. As I was just riding along, I ended up meeting up with some other people down the way who I was able to ride with, and before you know it, it’s enjoyable and all of a sudden I found that I just had energy to really roll. Some of the country roads, just out there like riding with the wind, like being on a horse. My legs would just go and I could just fly and I could just ride and it was just such a freedom. Just up and down those hills with no effort and everything’s just kind of going like a locomotion, it’s just a well-oiled machine, so to speak. It’s thrilling to be in the fresh air and it’s thrilling to be out on those country roads with the freedom of no traffic and seeing the horses on the side and the beautiful cornfields still, and all the life that’s out there, and just going. It’s like that’s how life is sometimes, it’s just going so well, it’s going so perfectly. Then we tire and have to stop and we have to refuel and get food. It’s just such an example, I guess, of how life is for us on this journey. I’ve just been thinking about a lot of different things. Now that a lot of my fears are gone, with kind of the way the roads are with the huge mountains and the really narrow shoulders, which there are some, but not as often as before, it gives a lot more time to reflect and just enjoy different things. I guess it’s made me think a lot more of different analogies of things in life.
When I got in to Fond du Lac, I ended up being with one of my teammates, Ken, and we were really, really hungry, so we went around the side of where the park was around here, and over to the side there was a kind of a seafood restaurant where we could sit outside. We ended up grabbing a crab croissant, which was really good, enjoying that and just kind of talking about the bike ride and the day and the fun that it is to be a cyclist, just fun things about the areas we go to. We got back in and there were four of us that went over to the 4 o’clock Sacred Heart Catholic Church that’s nearby here. I wanted to make sure to go to church because tonight being Saturday night, tomorrow’s Sunday, I’d usually go to church on Sunday morning at a Protestant church, but I also have Catholic upbringing and I also love going to Roman Catholic church sometimes too. We had a cab ride over and we went to the Sacred Heart Church, and it was a real blessing to hear the singing and the message. The message was for us to take what we’ve been given and use what we have to glorify God and bless others, that that’s what we offer up to God. He tied in with different Scripture, and it was just a real reminder and really appropriate. When I put the money in the basket, I also put an OLT card in the basket, because I feel that my riding for Operation Life Transformed and for all of you military families out there, it’s what I’m offering up to God for you and for our country. I hope that the priest will take a look at it and share it within the congregation. I did talk to him after church to let him know that I did put it in with my money that I offered. So that is our offering.
I know all of you have a lot to offer, all of you as family and friends and loved ones and people out there who are in our military. As long as we all just do our part and share what we have to offer, the Lord is smiling, He’s pleased, He really doesn’t want any more or any less from us than who we are. It was a reminder for me on my day as I thought about that kind of imprisonment to what my body can offer. It might be more to offer than what some people can, but it’s a lot less than other people can too. Like I could never do a marathon, I could never run 26 miles. My knees, my body just really can’t do running. I can do cycling but I couldn’t do running. I could never do an Iron Man, I know people who do Iron Man and it’s amazing. It’s amazing to me that I’m able to ride across America, I’m thrilled and I’m privileged and honored, but at the same time it’s very humbling, because there are always people in the Olympics and people who do all kinds of amazing things that I couldn’t even imagine being able to do. Some of you out there are doing amazing things too in going to Iraq and Afghanistan and all these different places and fighting for our country. Other people out there are doing different jobs that I couldn’t even imagine being able to have the intellect to be able to do. We all do our part, God creates us in a special way, He gives us all gifts and He doesn’t leave any of us out. I just want to say that He blesses all of us with something, and as long as we all just keep doing our part, that’s what it’s all about.
I just want to say that I am thrilled about tomorrow, tomorrow is a very special day because not only is it Day 35, but it’s also a day from Fond du Lac to Manitowoc, WI where some very special friends of mine, Madonna and Harry and children and also Doug and Sandy, also some very special friends of mine, along with different family members of theirs are going to pick me, because they live in Green Bay, only half an hour away. I only have a short 57-mile ride tomorrow, so they’re going to pick me up in the early afternoon and whisk me away to Green Bay and host a barbecue for me in Green Bay. I can be with family members of theirs, which I have vacationed with them in the past, and they’re very dear friends to me. I’ll be able to hang out with them and just have a special time with them. I can stay into the evening, because the next day is the day that we take a ferry across the waters and we don’t have to ride that day, we just have to ride three miles to get to the ferry. We’ll have the ferry ride and the whole rest of the day off. So it will be considered a rest day, so I don’t have to worry about staying up late. I’m very much looking forward to that and it will be really, really special.
I love you all, hope that you’re enjoying your summer and finding the gifts and talents that you have as you offer those up to give them to God and to your friends and your loved ones around you and doing your part. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.