Just a Few Words

7 06 2015

Many of you know that my Lady and I are avid bicyclists especially when it comes to riding what’s referred to as Rails-Rock _nto-Trails. This is where train tracks once ran and now have been taken up and made into walking, running and bike paths. To date we’ve biked trails in eight different states and hope to add many more to the list particularly when we reach retirement years, good Lord’s will and the creek don’t rise! It’s truly enjoyable going new places and seeing new sights from the seats of our hybrids. (Those are bikes that can tolerate a wide range of riding conditions and applications.) Quite a few of the trails have been paved, but most are packed dirt and a few even crushed rock. As mentioned it’s a great way to see the beauty of nature and visit little towns with their own unique personality, but it’s definitely not for the light-hearted biker. Riding around your neighborhood or community for exercise is one thing, but getting out in the wilderness, especially if you’re carrying supplies and extra water is strictly another category. Our youngest son who is a P.E. teacher and looks like he just walked off of Fitness Magazine can attest to that fact. After he had gone on an 18 mile biking trek with his mother and me; he called me several days later to tell how he could hardly walk for two days after. Still when you’re out there, you meet many wonderful people with varied levels of experience either taking just a portion of a trail, or going the distance like we do. When you’ve biked several hours in the woods and finally come to a small town that seems like time forgot, well it’s like an oasis in the desert. Many of these places like, Kimmel, Bloomingdale, Leroy, Elroy, and even Denver (Not the big one!) are little burgs where you may not find a lot of action on a Friday night, but usually have a general store, grocery or small restaurant that cater to bikers looking to rest a bit, get needed supplies or grab a bite to eat. It’s also a great place to meet and talk to other two-wheeled travelers; bikers are a great group of people!

It was at one of those stops I spoke with a gal, maybe in her late 30s, who was riding a light weight street bike. She had traveled the entire 34 miles of the trail and was now heading back to where she left her car. We only spoke for a moment, but she worried me a bit for she looked quite weary. A light framed speed bike with thin tires is easy to ride, but not necessarily congenial to a dirt packed trail. She knew she still had a good ways to travel, but she was undaunted about the task still ahead; she would make it she proclaimed and off she rode. Cathy and I finished our lunch of fruit and fiber bars, refilled our water bottles and followed a short time after for the remaining 17 miles of the trip. I had wished that the young lady and taken time to eat and rest but she was in too big a hurry to get back, besides she knew her body energy level best; I hoped, I guess, I prayed!

The return trip on the trail was beautiful with lush green foliage, purple wild flowers, many types of birds and nearby streams. Still it was a tough ride for on the return trip you had to deal with many inclines, not overly steep but enough to make you work harder than previously. We caught up with the gal about 10 miles in, sitting on a bench looking quite ragged. “You okay, need anything?” I asked. There were numerous places for her to get water but I keep extra fiber bars, bandages, and pain relief medicine just in case. She assured me she was fine so we rode on. It was a few miles later she passed us going all out like she was in a race. Call it the parental instinct in me, but I wanted to call out to her to slow down, it was dangerous how fast she was moving, conserve some energy because the worse was still ahead; for you see the last three miles of the trail had a 5% incline which will take a lot out of a person if they’re not careful. And she wasn’t!

Half way up this last power eating jaunt, I caught up with once again. She had her head down against her handle bars and her upper torso was rising and lowering as she struggled for air. When I reached her ,she was making an effort to get back on her bike again, but she looked over at me and said, “I’m not sure I can make it.” Now don’t ask me why I said what I did. I could have offered some food for energy, or pain meds, or even to stay put and we would come back with the truck to get her. Any of that would have been a help, but instead the words came out, “Yes you can make it, you’re almost done, don’t give up; YOU’RE DOING AWESOME!!” She struggled to get her feet back on pedals but then she was gone like a shot; and I prayed, “Lord you know me and my big mouth, please watch over that child!”

As we pedaled the final 50 yards we could see the old caboose that marks where the trailhead begins and ends; a very welcome sight at the journey’s end. Putting the bikes away, a gal came over I didn’t recognize at first because she was no longer wearing her helmet and sunglasses; it was the girl from the trail.  “I had nothing left back there and I was sure I wasn’t going to make it, but your words of encouragement kept ringing in my ears and that’s what carried me the rest of the way. Thank you so much!!”

“When you encourage others, you in the process are encouraged because you’re making a commitment and difference in that person’s life. Encouragement really does make a difference.” Zig Ziglar

Here’s another “Traveler of the Rock Road” whose path will probably never cross mine again and perhaps I could have used the opportunity to speak to this child about my Lord, after all that’s what I like doing best. But I believe that God used me for another purpose–to speak a few words of encouragement this child needed to keep going and find that hidden strength in her to finish. Isn’t that something we all can and should do?

Happy Biking and Be Careful! See Ya Next Time!!


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