By Derek Ried - Ends Cycling Crew
I sat at the restaurant table across from my Mom talking to her about what cycling events we would do together in 2018. It was a place that we would go to on occasion and was a frequented place by our family back when I was young. She had talked before about coming on to be support-staff on the Iowa Bike Ride at RAGBRAI (Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) and had been planning on coming with me. She and I had participated in the 2017 Key West Bike Ride and I was really looking forward to her coming again. During that meal, we were talking about what Bible Studies we were doing and how far we had gotten on the Ends Cycling Bible-in-a-year plan. Ten days after that meal, I got the second worst call of my life. She was traveling down a rural road going to Bible Study on a Wednesday night when a vehicle driven by a drunk driver struck her head on. She immediately was airlifted to a hospital where two hours later was pronounced dead. Little did I know that conversation would be one of our last ones and one I will cherish for the rest of my life.
If ever I was motivated to complete a ride for her, it was going to be the 2018 Iowa Bike Ride at RAGBRAI. Having only trained about five hundred miles prior to the RAGBRAI, I was intimated to say the least. I learned in January that the total elevation was going to be above twelve thousand feet, which is a bit more than I have in the central flat roads of Illinois. I packed my things, put the bike on a bike rack and headed to Iowa City where I would catch a ride to the start. Not only was I intimated by the elevation, I knew only two people. Normally, I do really well in situations where I don’t know people, but because of tragedy, I was a little thrown off. Stan Carlson changed that fear from the beginning of the trip. He and I became instant friends! He liked the opposite team in baseball than I did, so it was fun for us to jab each other about each team. One day as we were cycling, he told me of his struggles with God when his dad passed away and how it was some of the most important conversations he’d had, which deepened his faith. To see a man in his sixties share his experiences about life, cycling, faith and family was the thing I didn’t even know I needed on this experience. My whole perspective changed from being intimated to being charged to help others who know that the struggle is real.
Maybe you’re like me and have been in a similar place with God, life, cycling, faith, etc. I would love for you to join me on the Iowa Bike Ride at RAGBRAI 2019, where you will meet others who might share the same experiences. The hills and elevation disappear when you’re cycling with those who have similar stories. I look forward to seeing where God takes you and I in 2019 and I want to hear your story. Will you come share RAGBRAI 2019 with me?