Spirit Guided Travel
By Steve Carter
“The quickest way to an ambulance ride is for strangers to bicycle together on roads no one in the group has ever ridden.” This sage advice coupled with my personal experience of riding in groups, (most of it bad,) prompted me to habitually ride solo. As a pre-teen, riding with friends led to hitting a telephone pole while showing off to girls. Soon afterward, I received another “reality check” by getting knocked over by a car. My attention had been focused on my riding buddy when suddenly, the bumper meets the leg, and I hit the pavement. “Kissing that car,” gave me a whole new appreciation for safety in general and bicycling awareness-in-particular.
As a young adult, my bicycling continued by commuting to work, with my overall physical fitness improving because of it. Several years later my first 150-mile weekend birthed a love of intra-state cycling, a passion that endures to this day.
My desire to see America up close and personal eventually led to a three-thousand-mile cross-country bicycle adventure. I traveled with a mixed lot of mostly middle-aged folks. The majority were safety conscious, but as in any crowd, there were enough dim wits to make things dangerous for everyone. Speeding closely by a startled cyclist with no warning, following too closely when in a group, coupled with general “horseplay,” soon had me pulling away and riding alone for safety’s sake.
I routinely kept as far to the right as the teeth-rattling “rumble strips” allowed. Despite continual cautionary advice to the group, accidents mounted, the worse of which caused one woman to leave the ride with a fractured pelvis. From the camp full of bandaged arms and wrecked bicycles, I gained a whole new appreciation of the Holy Spirit and His attempt at guiding hardheaded people.
With our ride nearly over, and exhaustion taking a toll, two other “like-minded” men and I decided to travel together for company and to look out for each other. Wendall, a “New Englander” and Roger from Ohio proved to be competent and accident-free cyclists in the previous twenty-five hundred miles. Our riding styles complemented one another, and this bolstered my confidence in finishing the trip without injury to man or machine.
The early morning of the ride’s last day started with an extended blast from one of the support truck’s horns. This brought the camp awake and started a mix of revelry and riding that was a long way from safe. While first heading toward the finish of our great adventure, the three of us heard Wendall’s rear tire go flat. Like the well-experienced team we were, while Wendall sprinted to the equipment truck to get a new tire, Roger and I flipped his bike, pulled off the old tire, and started inflating a new tube before he could run there and back. On the road again in less than five minutes, we habitually separated ourselves from the pack and headed to the finish line. Things went smoothly enough for around thirty miles until I spotted a sunflower field in full bloom, where I wanted to stop for a photo op. I called for my friends to pull over, which Wendall did. Roger however decided to ride ahead rather than wait and with a feeling of foreboding we snapped the picture and took off in hot pursuit.
While topping a hill, a group of riders gathered around someone on the ground suddenly loomed in front of us. In a flash of panic, it became obvious Roger had wrecked. After bailing off our bikes, we charged up to see him pretty much out of it while the welcome sound of an ambulance closed in. It turned out, the injuries while needing surgery were not life-threatening and our friend was out of the hospital in a few days.
In hindsight, the accident was caused by numerous things. Wendall and I should have forgone stopping and stuck together. Going against conventional wisdom, Roger made a mistake falling in with a group of exhausted bikers on an inadequately marked road. By trusting ill-suited people to “watch his back”, Roger’s trip was cut short thirty miles from finishing. His misfortune didn’t sit well with Wendall and me, so we organized an abbreviated ride, which happened one year later, for the express purpose of peddling with Roger to the finish line. Whether struggling through any given day or peddling thousands of miles, we must make sure to travel with disciplined people strong in the faith. That way when trouble comes our way help will be close at hand.
Steve Carter is entering his 5th decade of Christian ministry. Steve had peddled across the continental United States twice. Mr. Carter’s email is: Msroadkill@bellsouth.net
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