What We’re About
Paralyzed below his chest and confined to a wheelchair in 1987 by a spinal cord injury, Rich struggled to find meaning and purpose in a broken body and what seemed to be a broken life.
They know first-hand that adversity’s part of life. They also know God’s faithfulness in keeping His promise to work for good in all circumstances.
RICH’S RIDE is their attempt to share the blessings they’ve experienced in difficult circumstances.
In September, 2011, Rich cranked his hand-cycle 1500 miles along the entire length of the Mississippi River. They spoke to more than 4,000 people in 26 different venues and raised nearly $60,000 for the children’s nutrition initiative of Convoy of Hope.
They thought it was a one-time project, but God had a bigger plan. The journey of hope continues.
From 2012-2014, RICH’S RIDE took this unique team on a variety of long-distance hand-cycle rides. Their mission:
- Demonstrate that it’s possible to overcome adversity and accomplish big dreams.
- Speak to a variety of audiences with a message of hope, possibility, and God’s faithfulness.
- Raise funds and awareness for various humanitarian causes.
They shared their story with audiences all across the country and raised more than $100,000 for various social justice organizations.
Since 2014 their efforts have focused exclusively on the FREEDOM TOUR in their beautiful home state of Colorado.
Thanks for your interest. We’re looking forward to sharing this journey with you. It’s gonna be a blast.
The Dream: How It All Began
Rich’s Ride grew out of a longstanding personal dream, the next chapter in a developing story of hope and God’s faithfulness. It was supposed to be a one-time deal. God chuckles when we tell Him our plans.
This video tells the original story of Rich’s Ride:
The first was a movie titled The Bucket List, the story of two cancer survivors who embark on a series of adventures, life-long ambitions to be accomplished before they “kick the bucket.”
The whole point of a bucket list involves acknowledging that time is limited. We tend to put off important adventures, waiting for a better time, until we suddenly realize that it may be too late. That “better time” never arrives and we’re left with wishes and regrets.
Source #2 was the reality that during 2011 my age once again ended in “0.” Age may be only a number, but it’s also a stark reminder that I don’t have forever to follow my dreams.
Ever since I began hand cycling in 1999 I harbored the dream of an extended cross-country ride. I did a few “virtual” versions in Fort Collins—1000 miles in a summer, 1250 miles to raise funds for a friend’s cancer treatments, and 3000 miles in 2010. But I never mustered the courage to tackle the real thing.
Don Miller tipped the balance with his book titled A Million Miles In A Thousand Years. He talked about analyzing his life as a story, realizing it wasn’t as interesting as it might be, and resolving to write a better story going forward.
The context for Million Miles was Don’s cross-country bike ride. As I read, I felt like he was personally challenging me. When I finished reading Million Miles, I told my wife it was time to stop making excuses and start writing a better story.
Don said an interesting story involves a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. And since we tend to avoid conflict, the story requires an inciting incident, an event that forces the character to change or move.
In story lingo, Don’s book was the final inciting incident in the story of RICH’S RIDE and our 1500-mile handcycle journey along the Mississippi River. Million Miles prompted me to confront the fear and the self-imposed limits. The dream’s invitation sat squarely before me, and I could no longer ignore it. I had to say Yes or No. It was time to do it or let it go.
On that original ride I cranked 1500 miles in about eight weeks, roughly along the Mississippi River north-to-south. We turned the event into a fund-raiser for a wonderful cause and spoke to groups about hope and dreams along the way. As you can see, it wasn’t quite as simple as jumping on the bike and taking off.
A guy with more sense would have dropped the whole silly notion, but I’ve rarely been accused of displaying common sense. Why start now?
A story involves a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. That notion resonates with me—I’ve been through that cycle a few times.
- I wanted to get my life back after a spinal cord injury caused permanent paralysis. I mostly had to overcome my own resistance and depression to find the path God had in mind. It only took ten years!
- I wanted to exercise. I discovered hand cycling and cranked a thousand miles in one summer.
- I wanted to re-connect with a lady I hadn’t seen or talked to in over twenty years. Fear, anxiety, and distance gave way and made room for a wonderful eight-year (and counting) marriage.
- I wanted to tell my story, so I published Relentless Grace. I was a math teacher with no writing experience—amazing what happens when you get your self-imposed limitations out of the way and let God work.
One thing about interesting stories, though, is that even a string of good ones doesn’t guarantee continued interest. Even the best character has to keep seeking and confronting challenges. So Rich’s Ride is about a new chapter, the next obstacle.
We’re not finished. Check here to see what we’re up to now.
Follow along. Join the circle.
Who knows? Maybe somewhere along the way you’ll figure out how you want to re-write your own story.
The story continues.
A Spiritual Journey
Do you think there’s an easy path to Jesus?
If there is, I missed the signs. Despite growing up in church and Sunday school, I mostly ignored God for thirty years. I wandered without focus until a series of events demanded my attention.
First my Mom died after a bitter battle with cancer. Buried under the weight of depression, I impulsively quit my job and ran away to “start a new life” in Colorado. Of course the unresolved issues tagged along, and I found myself alone and lost in a strange city. God used my loneliness and brokenness to guide me to a small church. I met the pastor and some amazing people who began my introduction to Jesus.
Though I learned about Jesus, I still didn’t understand my personal relationship with Him. God was preparing me, laying a foundation on which He could re-build a shattered life.
In December, 1987 I fell from a roof while installing Christmas lights and damaged my spinal cord. I returned home five months later in a wheelchair.
A Sudden Turn
Permanent paralysis has a way of shifting your awareness. The injury highlighted my missing sense of “true-north,” but rather than fighting to re-orient my life I simply quit. I wasted a decade in self-pity, convinced that nothing useful remained.
For ten years I wandered in darkness, convinced not even God could find me—that’s a pretty good working definition of “hopeless.” I became so accustomed to the darkness that I believed I’d never see light again.
My only wish was death and an end to the pain. I tried to run away, but God pursued me relentlessly and refused to let me throw away the life He gave me.
He worked through a series of inspirational individuals to gradually reveal His plan for a life filled with meaning and purpose. He used the horrors of my injury to highlight the guideposts I’d missed for so long, and in the midst of tragedy He showed me the reality of Romans 8:28. Where I saw only chaos and pain, God patiently fashioned something wonderful.
It wasn’t fast (ten years!) and it certainly wasn’t easy, but the evidence of relentless, loving grace was unmistakable. I deserved only my self-constructed prison built from the rubble of accident, mistakes, failures, and bad decisions, but Jesus’ sacrificial love unlocked the door. Because of God’s grace I can go forward in freedom.
I finally understood what it meant to truly invite Jesus into my life as Lord.
A New Chapter
Along the way, a personal journal revealed patterns in a seemingly chaotic and senseless journey. The signs along the path began to make sense. Over several years the journal became a story, and the story became a book titled Relentless Grace.
I retired from a thirty-five year career as a math teacher and opened a new chapter in a most unlikely journey. Now I write and speak from my wheelchair about hope, possibilities, and new beginnings.
I’ve learned a simple, powerful lesson: With God, hopeless is a lie.
Well, I’ve actually learned an even more powerful lesson: Jesus loves me.
I’m excited about my new opportunities as a writer and motivational speaker It’s been an odd transition from thirty-five years as a mathematics teacher, but I’m learning that God constructs the most improbable opportunities from the most unlikely situations. Check out my bio and the spiritual journey that brought me to this point. Have you ever felt overwhelmed and discouraged? I have. A life-altering accident and a series of unfortunate choices left me alone, empty and hopeless. I couldn’t see a way out, but God refused to let me give up. He offers you and me an opportunity to begin again. He invites us to give hope another chance.
My first book, RELENTLESS GRACE: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance, was released In November 2008.
A Message Of Hope
My message is simple: HOPE CHANGES WHAT’S POSSIBLE. In fact, that’s the subtitle of my second book, RICH’S RIDE, released in December, 2012. My goal is to share God’s message of unending hope in the midst of hopelessness.
I believe that life ought to be fun, challenging, and interesting. I wish to approach important issues carefully and thoughtfully, but I also think we often take ourselves a bit too seriously. I want to explore the boundary and balance between critical analysis and appropriate laughter.
Whether I’m speaking or writing, I sincerely try to communicate my passion for Jesus, my conviction that life is good, and my gratitude for God’s perfect faithfulness in the face of my own incessant lack of faith.
I also try to have fun and enjoy the good gifts with which God has blessed me. Prior to my accident, I could do ten thousand things. Now I can do only eight thousand. I try to focus on the eight thousand that remain rather than the two thousand I lost.
Christopher Reeve said, “When you choose hope, anything’s possible.” Let’s choose hope and explore the possibilities.
We’ve all experienced pain and loss. Join me in celebrating the incredible joy we experience when we give God’s hope another chance.
Here’s my family. As you can clearly see, I married way over my head.
When I don’t have my nose buried in a computer screen, I love cranking my hand cycle.
Becky, Monte, and I live in the beautiful city of Fort Collins, Colorado.
A Brief Bio
I entered the world in the picturesque little town of Deer Lodge, Montana. As a kid my family lived in Montana (twice), Chicago (three times), Milwaukee, and Philadelphia before finally settling in Iowa, where I graduated from high school and college and began my teaching career.
I’ve lived in Fort Collins, Colorado since 1981.
I’ve been a public school mathematics teacher for thirty five years, along with a three-year stint as a high school counselor. I retired in 2009, and now pursue RICH’S RIDE along with writing and inspirational speaking.
I’ve also done construction work and operated my own general contracting company for five years.
Becky and I have been married since 2002. We live in Fort Collins with Monte, a wonderful Labrador Retriever who’s also a specially-trained service dog and my constant companion.
I love to ride my hand cycle. I crank more than two thousand miles each year. Monte and I frequent the extensive bike trail system in Fort Collins (check out the photo). I’m also a devoted fan of the Rockies and Yankees, spend too much time (according to Becky) with my computer, and I find great pleasure in writing.
B.S. in Mathematics, M.S. in Counseling (Iowa State University) GO CYCLONES!
Becky, Monte, and I have found an incredibly fulfilling church home at Timberline Church in Fort Collins.
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All program costs for RICH’S RIDE, including on-the-road expenses, are underwritten by generous corporate and individual sponsors.
RICH’S RIDE is an approved project within Joy To The World Foundation, a highly-respected 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. This designation allows individuals and organizations to support us as sponsors and receive a tax deduction. JTWF provides strict financial oversight, so sponsors may be assured that funds are used in appropriate, responsible ways.
Your contribution to JTWF in support of RICH’S RIDE is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
If you’d like to make a sponsorship contribution, please click here.
Questions about sponsoring RICH’S RIDE? Please contact us for information.