Written By: Leah Hardin
I never set out to be a cyclist. Now, by God's grace, I ride 5,000 or so miles per year. An online Physical Education (PE) course pushed me into the sport (don’t try to explain the logic behind an online PE course). I joined the Orlando Road Club (FL) in 2014 so that I could try racing. I had the wonderful opportunity to learn from such amazing coaches. Coach Bob Tyler is responsible for my fundamental training like holding a straight line and avoid crashing (though my crash record doesn’t reflect such training). Coach Dennis Sutherlin is responsible for the majority of my tactical training, such as draft training. Every aspect of the fundamental and tactical training has proved essential, but drafting is on my mind during every Ends Cycling tour. My team spent two years training in draft tactics. Coach Dennis frequently said, “Always watch the wind.”
He taught us that being in the wind cost us valuable energy, which in turn, cost us time in the race. If we let our guard down for just one minute, we would lose time. We were trained to find someone to draft, to never drop our heads, and be conscious of the wind. “Always watch the wind.”
As valuable as draft tactics are, the training alone isn’t always enough to
get you to the finish line. A reliable team is crucial for survival. Ends Cycling gave me the opportunity to lead a team on Key West Bike Ride (KWBR) 2018. The wind on this tour was the worst I had ever experienced on an EC tour. The mere force of the wind hindered my ability to hold a straight line and forced me to drop my head simply to survive. Even though I knew where the wind was coming from, I could not block it on my own. Mike Bayer, being the kind, sacrificial domestique he is, pulled me aside and said, “I can see that you’re struggling in the wind. Get in my draft. Let me block the wind for you.”
[Above] In March 2018, Leah and her team made it to the finish line of the Key West Bike Ride - the Southernmost Point of the continental USA.
Friends, there will always be some wind in our lives, whether it’s in the form of temptation, discouragement, or the struggles of a global pandemic. The resistance will cost you valuable energy. It will damage your endurance. It will cause you to drop your head in defeat. Surround yourself with teammates who will help carry your burdens and block the wind (Galatians 6), keep your head up, and always watch the wind.
1 Peter 5:8-10
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And to the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
[Above] In Summer 2019, Leah served as Ends Cycling's first-ever intern. She's seen here with Paul M, aka PSAG - serving our cyclists together.
[Above] Leah sharing her testimony and the Gospel on Day 7 of the 2019 Georgia Bike Ride @ BRAG (Bicycle Ride Across Georgia).
[Yes, bicycle repair stands make OK microphone holders in a pinch!]