31 December 2009

Training camp: days 2-5

Although I meant to update this daily, when you get back from a ride, you really just wanna crash - not literally, of course. But here's the update.

Day 2's ride was relatively uneventful: only about 50 miles, because we had to get back in time for Preston's wedding. The only hitch came when Justin flatted and it took 4 tubes to fix it. Preston's wedding was good, an outdoor wedding at a church to the south. I caught the garter at the reception, but I didn't get to put it on the girl who won the bouquet. Oh well.

Day 3 was Madera Canyon, a 10+ mile climb, 92 total. Good day. The climb was beautiful, but arduous.

Day 4 was another short day, recovery for day 5, which was supposed to be 120 miles. We did Gates Pass, which has a 20% climb. It's pretty short, but there's a long lead-up to it, which kinda sucks. We were in a pretty good group, Army, Navy, and AF kids, working pretty good. After the ride, I went for a short run in my VFF's, just to loosen up. Later, during my massage, Beth said my legs felt really loose. I think it was the run.

Day 5, today, I planned on doing 120. It's Kitt Peak, and it has an observatory at the top. That should tell you two things: 1) it's in the middle of nowhere and 2) it's high. 7,000 feet, to be exact, up from 2,500 at the bottom. I ate three gels, a Clif bar, and some Shot Blocks on the way up, and I did pretty good. The climb's officially 12 but really 15 miles long, lots of switchbacks. It's a tough one. I got dropped before the climb officially started, and climbed alone most of it. Since I'm the slow guy in the fast group, that meant I was the last one up. Within a mile of the summit, I caught the chase car coming down and grabbed a bottle. I worked up to the summit, put my warmers back on, and headed down. I crashed in the first corner, but straightened myself and my bike out and headed down for another 12 miles.

About crashes: I probably won't mention minor ones any more. No need to worry mom if they're just scrapes. As for this one, my elbow's beat up, but that's about it.

At the bottom, we still had 15 miles to the vans. I figured I'd stop there, since I was sore from the crash. The chase car fell in behind me, but I waved them up and told them of they were going the same speed as me, they may as well go in front and block the wind. So I motopaced for about 10 miles. Sweet.

Back on base, Tojo (Hojo's dad, who's been a nurse for 21 years) patched me up, and Beth gave me a massage. My legs are pretty tight, but with some stretching tonight they should be good to go for 84 miles and 26 miles of climbing tomorrow: Mt. Lemmon.

27 December 2009

Falcon Cycling training camp: Day One

Landed in Tucson about 1340 today, found my teammates by the baggage claim, loaded up in the van and headed for Davis-Monthan AFB, with Ashley navigating and Cody driving. At the base, we found our rooms weren't cleaned yet, so we dropped our stuff in one of the other rooms, broke out our bikes, grabbed a snack, and got ready for an easy ride.

As we rolled out of Tucson, we hit pretty much every red light we could. It's annoying, but there's nothing you can do about it. Then, rode down off an overpass with three lanes of traffic on our right and a fast-moving merging lane to the right, we got a little bunched up. We had to cross the lane to the right to get to the shoulder, but there wasn't much room, so the guys in front braked hard.

Since there was no warning, I found myself watching my front wheel rubbing Joe's back wheel on the sides, and the front of my tire rubbing his casset. That's a bad situation: it means I can't turn my wheel to the left. And when I started leaning left, I knew I was going down.

I saw myself flying over my handlebars, arms out in front of me. We were doing about twenty, so I slid several feet. As I came to stop, another kid ran over me and my bike, but I didn't really feel that. Cody ran over my wheel, and Ashley crashed into me. Thankfully, the traffic behind us stopped.

I picked myself up and checked myself out: everything worked. Nothing had touched my head or face. My left knee had a quarter-sized scrape, and my right elbow had a baseball-sized one. My right ankle had a cut; I think that's what broke my computer and tore it off my handlebars. No big deal.

I checked to make sure my wheels were straight, put my chain back on, and looked over the frame. I hopped back on and we rode off. Riding up to the front, I realized my handlebars were twisted, but a quick stop and a multi-tool fixed that. The rest of the ride went well, nice and easy. I dropped a bottle once, but that was no big deal.

We got back in time for dinner, so I hopped in the shower - that hurt - and changed. And now, my elbow hurts, but I'm fine. I'll look over the bike, but I think it's fine. Really, it coulda been a lot worse. God is good.

And I'm ready for day two.

26 December 2009

Love

Love is giving someone the opportunity to destroy and trusting him not to.

I saw that on a love note from my little brother's girlfriend, but I think it's true. And it's especially true of our relationship with God.

If anyone has the opportunity to destroy us, it's Him. No question. But we can trust Him, because He's good. I'm beginning to understand why and how we can fear God and love Him at the same time. When you crash your car and dad shows up, you know you'll be Ok, but you know you're in trouble. Is it kinda like that when Dad shows up? I think so.

Angels are always starting conversations with, "Do not be afraid." There's a reason for that. And if angels make humans falling-to-the-ground-afraid on sight, what would the Almighty God do? I can only imagine... except not even that.

His love is fierce, jealous, and kind. And that's the only way it can be.

It's Perfect.

12 December 2009

Veinte

The length of our days is seventy years-
Or eighty, if we have the strength;
Yet their span is but trouble and sorrow,
For they quickly pass, and we fly away.
-Psalm 90:10

A quarter of my life is gone today. I'm no longer a teenager; I'm becoming a man. I've moved out, and managed to land a job and an education at the same time. I buy my own deodorant, wash my own clothes, and get my own food. Sometimes, I'd rather be the kid who played with his little brother - who was still "little" - while mom made snacks and dad made swingsets. But I know this is where I'm supposed to be.

And this is life. As Martin Luther said, "There are two days on my calendar: this day and that day." Henry David Thoreau wanted to "stand upon the meeting of two eternities, to toe that line." That's what I want to do - live without regretting the past or worrying about the future, thinking only about today and the day I'll fly away.

I want to be young. "We have sinned and grown old, but God is younger than we," G.K. Chesterton once told us. I want to relish each sunrise with the joy of a four-year-old who says, "Do it again!" I do not want to spend my youth preparing for my future. As my econ teacher told us, "I wish I had spent more of my money when I was young. Now I'm getting old, and soon I won't be able to do the things I'd like to do." Why should we make ourselves sick to lay up for a sick day?

Instead of anticipating the day when "things will get better", let's make them better today. Let's live in the moment, toe that line, and say, "Do it again!" every time the sun comes up.

And then one day, we'll fly away.

05 December 2009

The Lion

The children were afraid when Mr. Beaver told them they would meet the lion. "Is he safe?" they asked. Mrs. Beaver, surprised at such a silly question, quickly answered them:

"Safe? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he's not safe. But he's good. He's the king, I tell you!"*

We think we have a helper Jesus. One who gives us nice homes and healthy families and secure jobs and good dinner. We pray and ask that he would guard us from danger and give us this daily bread. But we face no real dangers, and our daily bread is at the grocery store. God will give us that. But I don't think he wants us to be that comfortable. Jesus helps us, but He wants to challenge us.

Jesus told us we would have trouble in this world. But when we lose our job or get sick, we ask,"Why does this happen to me?" We ask why the righteous die, just as Solomon did. "Why?" is a good question. But the answer is nearer than we think.

Troubles come so God can teach us. So we can learn to lean on him. Let us consider that sickness may be more of a blessing than health, that poverty is better than affluence, that hunger is better than a full stomach. Maybe we should live in such a way that our daily bread comes through prayer. Maybe we should fast, and trust Him to sustain us. Or maybe we should sell everything we have and give it to the poor.

I don't think He was kidding.

If you're looking for financial security, it's not the way to go. If you're looking to live a long life, it's not the way to go. But if you want a full life, Jesus beckons. And if we fear Him, but trust Him, what else shall we fear?

Is He safe? Whoever said anything about safe? 'Course He's not safe. But He's good. He's the King, I tell you!


*C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, chapter 7

03 December 2009

Bittersweet

I just found out I'll be going to the Dominican Republic for language immersion this summer. Woohoo!

But that means I have to give up summer leave. And since I'll probably give up Spring Break leave for a mission trip, I'll have no free leave from Christmas until Thanksgiving. And I'll miss my little brother's graduation.

That's nine months away from home, unless I sneak in a weekend trip. Or maybe my family will come out here. Vamos a ver.

It won't be easy. But it should be worth it.