Posts tagged Cycling for Change

Big Sky Country

(Photo courtesy of Big Sky Fishing.Com)  There’s a reason they call Montana “Big Sky Country”. There were miles and miles of sky above me along with some ominous looking clouds. I knew I needed to get to Billings as fast as I could to be in a place safer than the open road. And as it turned out those clouds did produce a tornado that day. It tore the roof off of some building. Fortunately I was beckoned into a café by the owner prior to the tornado touching down. After the storm passed and the skies cleared, the people of Billings came out of their homes and businesses to assess the damage. It was then that I saw how close knit this community is. The café owner fed me a fabulous dinner and offered to put me up in her home. I told her that I already had reservations at an RV park, thanked her for her kindness and was on my way. Or so I thought.

When I went outside to get back on my bike I noticed I had a flat tire. So back inside I went, asked if her offer was still available then asked where I could get my tire fixed. As luck would have it, her son had a friend who worked for a bike company. She gave him a quick call and before I could finish my glass of homemade lemonade her son was there with his truck and hauled my bike off to be fixed. When he returned with it I asked how much I owed for the repair. He smiled sheepishly and said “it’s free as long as you agree to something.” And as you can imagine I was hesitant to agree to an unknown. He directed me outside and to my astonishment there sat a new bike with a trailer on the back end with a big sign saying “Spoke Shop” on it. He said all I needed to do was take his new outfit on the road with their sign on it and it was mine. He went on to say that my other bike was no longer road worthy and that they could not send me out on the road in good conscience with that old bike. I graciously accepted this gift which also included a GPS and a small motor to help me get over some of those mountain passes that were still ahead of me.

I’ve met so many generous people on this trip, but none quite this generous. At this very moment Billings was my favorite town. How could it not be with the hospitality that these people have shown me. I spent the night at their home. The next day I was able to visit a few of the town’s main attractions, and tested out my newly outfitted bike. I soon found myself back on the road and heading to Laurel Montana. From Laurel you can enter Yellowstone National Park from 4 different cities. I was tempted to make a side trip through Yellowstone, but after checking my new GPS I decided to stay on my course.

I could feel the richness of the railroad history in Laurel along with its small town atmosphere. It took me back to when I was a little girl visiting my grandparents who lived in a small Nebraska farming town. I have fond memories from back then and am creating fond memories of the present. Life was good.

And in my real world as I read Jason Christensen’s blog of his actual Cycling for Change trip through some of the same country I’ve virtually ridden through, I’m convinced that my imaginary bike trip is not all that far off. For he writes about the wonderful people he and the other team members have met and the generosity of so many of them. Now we all know there probably isn’t a bike shop around that would give someone a tricked out bike outfit for nothing simply to advertise their store, but I do believe there are people out there that would show the hospitality that my imaginary café owner showed me. Jason’s blog is proof of that. And it’s proof that God’s power and word fills the hearts of many.

One can follow the C4C team’s actual trip by logging on to http://www.ccharitiescs.org , clicking on the Cycling for Change icon, then clicking on “follow Jason’s ride here”…You’ll be able to read Jason’s blog and to see some pictures of the scenery that this team is seeing for real. God is a true artist with the beauty that He has given to us.

Unfortunately many of us are harnessed with the trials and tribulations of our everyday lives so much so that we don’t take the time to see the beauty around us not only in the terrain, but in people too. Some are so bogged down with hurt and pain and loneliness that they can’t see the forest for the trees. It’s some of these very people that Catholic Charities tries to help the best we can. It’s through the generosity of our donors that allow Catholic Charities to continue our mission.

And it’s your dedication and enthusiasm that helps me to continue my virtual trip across this great nation. May God bless you all, keep the C4C bike team in your prayers, and let’s keep going the distance.

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Close Encounters

After leaving Spearfish I headed towards Sundance Wyoming and Devils Tower. I spent the night in Sundance at the Bear Lodge Motel. The views were breathtaking and, as I’ve found in so many towns, the people were so friendly and informative.

I was introduced to a group of people who were members of a biking group called the Sundance Chain Gang Mountain Bike Association. Their mission is to promote responsible mountain biking which includes getting the proper access to private property and respecting the land. And although this group is into back country biking, we had a lot to talk about including the fact that my bike needed some repairs. I was always good about maintenance on my car, but I forgot that bikes need an occasional tune-up.

Fortunately this group knew what they were doing and gave my bike the overhaul it needed. We shared biking stories much like veterans share war stories. They began to share information about a cross-country bike trip they just heard about. This trip is designed to help raise awareness about hunger.

I asked them if this ride was called Cycling for Change because if it was my boss’s boss was doing this ride. It was indeed the ride they were talking about and they will be doing the Wyoming leg of this ride.

They asked why I wasn’t joining this group and I quickly told them that I was in no hurry to get anywhere, that my only goal was to go through every state in the United States. And I knew I was no where close to being able to ride a route such as the Cycling for Change in the number of days they are riding it. I average about 5 miles per day and this group will be riding a minimum of 20 miles a day up to 88 miles in one day. For me I’ll keep going the distance at my pace.

After a good nights sleep I knew that I had to start my trek to Devils Tower. My new found friends told me they do this trip all the time in a day. It took me 3 days to get there because the surrounding area was so vibrant with wildlife and views. And the neat thing about heading to Devils Tower is that you can see this monolithic igneous intrusion from miles away. It’s truly awe inspiring.

On my second night heading to Devils Tower I had a close encounter with an elk. I had stopped for the day and was setting up camp. I heard this rustling noise behind me. When I turned there stood this gorgeous elk just staring at me. I wasn’t sure what it was thinking, but I imagined it saying, “What’s this idiot doing in my space?” Well, after what seemed like 5 minutes (it was probably only 5 seconds) this beautiful animal took off for other areas uninhabited by those pesky humans.

Once I reached Devils Tower I took a tour through the visitor center then headed out on the 1.3 mile trail that circles Devils Tower. After that I hiked to the Circle of Sacred Smoke Sculpture which brought me to another close encounter: myself and God. The sculpture was designed to raise awareness of the importance of Devils Tower to several Indian tribes. It was this dedication to their heritage that made me think about my heritage, my life, my family, and God. It took my breath away and brought me close to tears. And although the visitor center of this park would actually be closed this time of year if I were truly on this trip, having been to see this phenomenon 20+ years ago and the beauty that surrounds this area has made me actually think about family, friends, and how wonderful God is to all of us each and every day. Sometimes it appears God has turned His back on us, but He hasn’t; He’s always there. We just need to reach out and ask Him for that help and guidance that is always waiting for us.

And I think about Jason Christensen, CEO and President of Catholic Charities of Colorado Springs, making this 5000 mile bike trip for real and am awed by his spirit and commitment to helping those in need. This Cycling for Change event has to be pleasing God. My prayers go out for those who will be riders, for those who will be sponsors, and especially for those that this event will be helping.

As for me and my virtual bike trip, I look forward to be headed towards Montana. My next big stop will be the Little Bighorn Battlefield. I say “next big stop” only because it’s the next stop that is widely known. What I’ve been discovering as I research each town I go through is that each town has something to offer and makes the desire in me to actually travel this route some day to see what these towns are really like. It won’t be on a bike, though. If I ever have the time and money to travel my biking route it will be in a car, but until then I’ll keep going the distance in my virtual world.

May God bless you all and keep Jason and the Cycling for Change team in your prayers as they move closer to their launch date of Memorial Day.

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