Writing A Story We Didn’t Understand

It’s important to celebrate.

Today’s a big-deal anniversary for us. Five years ago on September 12, 2011 Becky, Monte, and I met some friends at Lake Itasca, Minnesota. We snapped a few pictures, prayed, and took off on a 1500-mile handcycle journey along the Mississippi River.


When I cranked away from Lake Itasca that morning, we had no idea where this crazy thing we called RICH’S RIDE would take us.

Looking back at my writing, there’s a clear sense of mystery and wonder. We were tackling something we didn’t really understand. I’d never experienced anything like that before, this sense of certain direction that I resisted until I felt sure I couldn’t. So as I began I wasn’t sure I could ride 40-50 miles per day. We weren’t sure about routes, or destinations, or who would hear our story.

We were only sure we were supposed to go, that in some way we were part of a story bigger than ourselves. We didn’t know what that meant five years ago.

We’re still learning.

Our 37-mile ride that day over rolling hills from Lake Itasca to Bemidji was the longest ride I’d ever done. I trusted that I’d get stronger, that each day would be a training ride for the next. Amazing how easy trust becomes when all other choices disappear.

Getting started was a huge relief. After months of planning and anticipation and people asking if we were crazy, it felt good to finally be moving. The cool morning air in my face made the dream seem real; this thing was finally happening. One way or the other, something was going to occur.

I recall a special moment as Monte and I waited for the others to get their bike gear together. I looked at the beauty around us and thought briefly about the finish line, 1500 miles away in New Orleans. My first impression was that thinking about 1500 miles might be discouraging. Then a different notion crossed my mind.

I wanted to savor every mile, every moment of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. I didn’t want to squander a single opportunity by looking forward to the finish line.

I did pretty well at that on the ride, and it’s a lesson I carried away. Each moment, each day, is its own. God places opportunities along the path, but we miss them if we’re rushing toward the next thing.

RICH’S RIDE, this impossible dream that became a bike ride and then so much more, was a story waiting to be written five years ago. Living the story was humbling and fun and the most incredible experience of my life. Remembering it, and telling you about it, is pretty cool as well.

So over the next couple of months I’ll look back and see if we can learn anything from what was happening five years ago. For now…a one-minute video to show the highlights of that epic first day.

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