One of my favorite bicycle memories was a cross-country bike ride from Sept-Îles, Canada to Key West, Florida. I should clear the record and state that I never actually made it “by bicycle” to Key West. I only made it to Miami. There was a $25 shuttle that tempted me en route to the finish line just south of Miami. But that is beside the point. It was a long ride! It was a ride that challenged me like nothing else ever has and one that I think about often with fond memories. I was only able to ride the 2,500+ miles because I was encouraged and motivated by the people I was riding for.
I was cycling to raise money for the the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund. They provide scholarships for the 6,500+ children that have lost a parent in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. These scholarships are a reminder to all of us of their sacrifice. And to their children, they are are reminder that their parent’s sacrifice will never be forgotten by a grateful nation.
My journey started in Canada… I had never been to Canada and decided to fly to a small town. So I chose Sept-Îles, Canada. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps it just seemed remote enough and far enough away that it made the cross-country bike ride seem that much more challenging.
I don’t speak French. Nevertheless, it made the experience more fun. I had a few days in Canada to enjoy the chill autumn temperature (by chill I mean freezing) and the excitement that is enjoying a new culture and language for a few days. I snapped these random pictures of things that gave me a grin between the non-stop pedaling.
Cycling brings out the best in people. This trip brought out the best in me. There is no better way to experience nature, people, and all that Creation offers us. We are able to feel the air against our face, push our limits, and become an efficient human. Most days I sit at a desk and wish only to get back on my bike trying to make it to the next stop before the sun sets.
When work gets difficult I find myself often with my eyes closed reminiscing of the time I rode from Canada to Florida in 32 days. When I open my eyes, I feel encouraged and am ready for more work. These are the experiences we all need and can enjoy with an occasional opportunity to ride. So when you find yourself needing a challenge or an experience that can get you through the daily routine, it is time to pick a spot on a map and ride.
Not long after this bike ride I suffered a Lisfranc injury to my foot. In other words, I folded my foot in half. The injury was severe and resulted in many bones broken, ligaments torn, and pins and screws to reset the foot. I faced the realization that my career plans would be cut short or changed because of the injury. I didn’t want to forego many of the things I did before the injury that I felt brought life to my days. One of these was bicycle commuting. I found a way I could still commute by bike and take on the hills even with my injury.