50 Miles of Lessons
June 9, 2013
By Israel Ramos

The State of the Countryside BDW half century ride was directed by Dr. Jay Crawford, a dentist in the Greater Lansing area and a leader of the University Seventh-day Adventist Church in East Lansing.  It was a small group ride of four people that rode through the countryside of mid-Michigan.  It panned out to be quite an adventure with a two-man spill at mile 20 that I thought would certainly end the whole ride.  An unforgettable meal at the end of the ride, however, quickly erased the pain our bodies were experiencing prior and still makes my mouth water as my mind recalls its yumminess.  I think that I’m willing to do just about anything for another shot at those crepes!

Admittedly, I was the weakest link.  If there’s a bright side to that, it allowed me to learn valuable lessons.

Although drafting can be dangerous, it’s still the best way to ride.  At about mile 20, I was riding in the front with David (one of the rare times throughout the ride), when we suddenly heard the crash.  Apparently, Maggi — our King of the Hill, was looking back to check for cars and his front tire caught Dr. J’s rear wheel.  We turned back in time to watch the spill that I thought would certainly cause damage both of their equipment.  Luckily, everyone and survived.  And for the cyclists, luckily, no harm was done to their bikes!

I haven’t had a hard fall yet.  Sometimes I feel like I’m over-cautious because I’m so scared of a hard crash.  After their spill, I rode a little farther back from the person in front of me.  I tried to use more hand signals.  And I focused more on the back wheel and body language of the people ahead — not just the person right in front of me.  The wind was so strong on a portion of the ride through Mt. Hope Rd., that I knew that I could not finish 50 miles without the benefit of riding in the pack.  Although there are dangers in riding together, it is still the best way to ride.

The same in our spiritual walk.  Riding with others may be dangerous.  We may cause accidents, and others may make accidents that will cause us pain.  But if we want to make it through Mt. Hope Rd., we better stay with the pack.  The ride is always a lot easier when we’re riding as a team.


Private training leads to public performance.  It was August 8 when I got the invitation to be a part of this half century.  I had an entire month to prepare for this ride.  While Jay and Maggi dedicated their Sundays to training, I was occupied with other things.  I’d done half centuries before and knew what it would take to ride at a reasonable pace.  But only once did I go on a training ride.  I made excuses — I just don’t have time to go ride for an hour or two.  I didn’t even keep up with my regular maintenance routine of at least running 3 miles a few times a week.  To make things worse, I ate out way too much, had too many sweets, and even had a couple of late-night meals.

On the day of the race, I had no breakfast and didn’t even drink a glass of water in preparation.  Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking.  After 15 miles, I started to struggle keeping up with the 18.7mph group pace.  It was pretty obvious that I had not put in the preparation necessary to complete the event.  Isn’t that how things are with our spiritual walk?  Others may not see me in my private life — how I speak to my children, relate to my spouse, or spend time with God.  But in moments of truth throughout the day, people in public gain insight regarding my private life.

Other people’s sacrifices for us paint a humbling picture of what Christ does for us all the time.  For most of the ride, Jay led the way.  Every now-and-then, Maggi would take the lead — especially up the hills.  Through the rough winds, he kept us going.  He ensured that no one was dropped.  In the end, he sacrificed a lot of personal energy by pulling the bulk of the weight for most of the ride.  The pain of the fall and the strain of breaking wind for us was visible at the end as he pushed hard for the last three miles of the ride.  Towards the end, Maggie and the rest of us had to step up to help pull Jay down the final stretch.  I realized that this is what the Christian experience is all about, isn’t it?  We help others.  We should even “waste” ourselves for the sake of others at a personal cost to us so that, as JN Andrews says, “by any means we may win some.”

Thanks for the ride, guys!

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