Moving On

One thing I love about cycling is the inward, outward and upward reflection that I am able to do in a way that can’t be done any other time. Last night I was reflecting on the past that has taken me where I am today. It wouldn’t have been my choice to arrive here, but I can’t have regrets, it has been what it was. I have learned much, grown a lot, and seen many things I would have never dreamed seeing. Life is good! Today is great! And tomorrow will be even better! No matter the struggle you are facing, press on! There is strength in the journey!

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. . . I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.12933075_10153574760183295_838892603786278496_n

Shut Up and Listen

“Be still and know that I am God . . . ” – Psalms 46:10

Anyone that knows much about me knows that I am a fitness buff. I love exercising. Yes I am warped and messed up. But there is nothing that makes me feel better than a hard workout, a good bike ride, or an excrutiating run.

Part of being a fitness buff means that I watch what I eat, listen to my body, and take care of my equipment. But there is something else that is important – rest.

Rest allows the body to regenerate and gives stressed muscles an opportunity to recover. It is during recovery that the adaptation from training hard occurs. Sleep allows the body an opportunity to regenerate; the body releases growth hormones that aid repair stressed muscles from hard workouts/races. “Run Less Run Faster”

Without sufficient rest, the muscles and bones in your body ware down, and with too much work, can cause injury.

This is something I had to learn the hard way. A few years ago when I first started running, I got a little too ambitious. I was proud of the fact that I was working out hard 6 days a week. In the process, I developed runner’s knee and had to quit running for several months. To this day, I pay very close attention to how my body feels. Any sign of fatigue and I make sure I cut back and allow my body to rest.

What is true for the physical body, is also true for your spirit. You need rest. Not just a vacation, but a time to sit back and relax in the presence of God.

In Psalms 46:10 we are told to “Be still and know and know that I am God,” this could be translated “Shut up and listen!” and that’s not easy to do. In our crazy paced world of instant gratification, fast food, and drive through mini-marts, sometimes the last thing I want to do or have time to do is to be still.

Being still can mean many things to many people. To one person it might mean shutting down the electronics and sitting quietly. To another person it might mean putting on some worship music and focusing only on God. And to someone else it might be simply slowing down for a few days to rest and relax. But here is something interesting about the phrase “be still.” The words “be still” comes from the root word rapha which means “to be weak, to let go, to release.” In other words, we “let go” and surrender in our weakness to the power that comes from God.

Scripture talks a lot about our weakness. It says:

God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1:27)

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Then there is this scripture:

“The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

As we remain still before God, whatever that entails, we are in essence coming to Christ and releasing everything to him. We are saying, “all that I am is yours, all that I want to be is in your hands, and all that I am not comes from you.” We are allowing God’s strength to infuse our souls and bring new life and breathe energy into our spirit. When we are still before God, we are allowing him to do in us what we can’t do for ourselves.

12998444_10153597464178295_5016136273657125701_oRecently, I jumped on my bike in search of some solitude that I often find pedaling my way down a countryside road. As I moved along the road, I noticed things that I don’t see when I am hurrying to work in my car. I saw all the garbage that cluttered the ditch, the dead carcass of who knows what, and odd automobile parts. I also noticed the beauty that I don’t normally see. I breathed in the fresh spring air. I saw the deer grazing in the wheat fields. And I saw the simple little pleasures that please the eye.

As I slowed down my pace from where I usually dwell, something brilliant happened. I felt free. I felt alive. I felt peace. And somehow in all of that I felt rested and able to face the challenges that impose upon my life.

As we are still before God, we are able to do, what God asked of Gideon. We are able to “go in the strength that we have.” (Joshua 6:14)

 

Happiness Is . . .

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“Happiness is a bike ride in January and getting home seconds before a downpour.”  That was my thought as I walked into my house seconds after finishing my first bike ride of the season.

I had been anxious to get out and ride.  But it always seems like on days when I have the availability, it is downright dreary and cold.  Of course the rest of the time, the weather is perfect.

12438989_10153401312983295_6440703002513836419_nI love the idea of winter riding, but I just haven’t gravitated there yet.  As obsessive as I am, the reality is that I am still a fair-weather rider.

On this particular day, the odds fell nicely in my favor.  The weather was a bit cool, but the sun was shinning, the sky was blue and there was only a light breeze. I made my way out with the intention of doing a short ride, but ended up doing a full ten miles.  Now I know that isn’t a long ride by any means, but when it has been several months since you have been out, a ten mile ride seems heavenly.

For most of the ride, the weather was perfect, but my return home was quite a bit cooler. Needless to say, I made it home seconds before the downpour began.

It was a blissful first ride of the season and it got me thinking about all of the rides I want to do in the near future.

Let the season begin!

 

 

New Year’s Goals

I am a bit slow jumping on the New Year’s bandwagon this year.  But who says that all of your goals must be planned out and accomplished on New Year’s Day?  Real goals are accomplished by breaking them down into feasible and manageable pieces.  Arriving at your goal is a process, something that comes about in your regular evaluation of self and living. Therefore, in tune with what is happening in my life, my focus for the year has naturally made a turn towards “self-health”.

Do it!It’s no secret among people that know me that I have had issues with my weight since as long as I can remember.  I have lost weight.  I have gained weight.  I have been healthy.  I have been unhealthy.  Life happens and change happens and not necessarily in a way that you like.   Sometimes the change comes upon us without our consent, sometimes we are our own worst enemies.  Whatever the reason for being where I am now, I am responsible for “me” and I am taking charge!  It’s time to do something.

The “January” Plan 

  • Drink more water – 120 ounces a day!
  • Loose 10 lbs
  • Walk 30 miles (7.5 miles a week)
  • Clean eating
  • Regular Exercise
  • “First ride” of 2015

I am putting action into changing the things that I do not like about me.  I am setting obtainable goals that will get me to where I want to be.  I know I will never truly “arrive”.  This is a journey where I will discovery new and interesting things about myself, others and life.

Please help me accomplish my goals.  I will be posting regular updates on my Facebook Page at Pedals & Ponderings as well as occasional updates here on my blog.

Blessings for a New Year!

 

Winter Reflections

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The time change has hit us all.   I don’t know about you, but for me it is dark when I get up and dark when I get return home.  Since I don’t consider it safe to ride at night, that means time spent on my bike is limited. Add to that colder temperatures, and even my weekend riding is cut to a minimal.  But I still get out for an occasional ride.

This past weekend was almost perfect for riding.  The mercury stayed around 63 degrees and the wind conditions were bearable.  I was more than ready to hit the road!

The road was a familiar path with familiar sites, but the scenery had changed. The bright Fall colors that had previously outlined the landscape had now dissipated  and had been replaced with the grays and browns of the season. Animals still roamed the hills, but most had moved away or were nestled into their burrows for the Winter.  Change has definitely arrived in Eastern Oregon.

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When I am on my bike, I think clearly.  Problems dissipate. Worries negate.  Life is great.  It is also when I reflect.  This day I thought about change.  How life changes, how seasons change, how I have changed.

Years have gone by, life has gone by, and I am different.  I am not who I used to be.  None of us are.  I am more confident, more assured, and a better version of who I used to be.  Long gone is the shy, insecure, teenage girl, that I one was and in her place is a Woman.

4During this season of change as we ride into the Winter, I am reminded that I am not who I used to be, but neither am I who I am going to be.  I still have dreams unfulfilled, places to travel, and roads to ride.  I have goals to accomplish and visions to dream.

The road and the path may be similar, but the scenery has changed.  All is as it should be.

Happy Winter Riding!

Last Organized Ride of the Season – Gorge-Us-Gals (The Dalles, Oregon)

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Finish Line

Finish Line

A few weekends ago me and one of my cycling friends participated in the Gorge-us Gals bike ride.  This ride, which benefited Haven, a domestic violence shelter in The Dalles, Oregon, started mid-morning with cool temperatures and cloudy skies, but by the time we finished we had perfectly beautiful weather.

The route followed the Riverfront Trail along the Columbia River, but the first thing we did was get off track.  Instead of following the trail, we started out on the highway and missed our turn onto the trail.   Fortunately, we discovered our error rather quickly, and ended up only riding about a half of a mile out of our way.  The weather quickly turned windy as we rode through a wildlife refuge and up a rather steep ridge to the Discovery Center, but other than that, we had no problems.

Discovery Center

Discovery Center

The ride included some beautiful scenery and an awesome support crew.  Its always nice to have assistance available, but luckily we did not need it this time.  After leaving the Discovery Center we made our way onto the Historic Columbia River Highway and rode our way to the foot of Rowena Crest.  This particular day we did not ride the nearly 3 mile climb, but having done it before, I know it was possible.  Looking back, I wish we had gone ahead and rode it, if for no other reason than for the thrill of the descent.

Columbia River

Columbia River

However today, this was our turn-around point for an easy 20-mile ride.  At this point we were greeted by two very charming and crazy guys who filled us up with fruit and Gatorade before sending us on our way.

Half-way point

Half-way point

The return trip was almost a coast downhill from this point with a few short but easy climbs.  Of course the views were fantastic and by then we had perfectly blue skies.  Once again we passed through the Discovery Center and down the steep switch backs that made up the trail.  At one point I took a sharp turn a bit too quickly and ended up biking through the dirt.  Luckily, I was able to keep complete control and somehow managed to make my way back onto the path without missing a beat.  Thank goodness I have a hybrid bike!

Discovery Center

Discovery Center

Once we reached the bottom of the switchbacks we made our way back through the wildlife refuge, and from there it was relatively flat with a few rolling hills.  I took a brief moment along the river to take a photo as a barge passed us by, and from there it was back to the finish line, where we were greeted with flowers and a generous spread provided by Subway.

As we relaxed underneath the tent and enjoyed the worship music that was playing in the background, we decided that t was a perfect way to finish our ride. Thankful and grateful for an enjoyable morning, we made our way back to Pendleton.

Ready to Ride Again

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Brakes are working correctly, gears are shifting smoothly, and my gear is all packed and I am ready to ride.

This weekend my friend and I are going to be participating in the Gorge-Us-Gals Bike Ride in support of Haven, the domestic violence program in The Dalles, Oregon. I love doing rides that support a great cause and what better cause than fighting violence towards women.  This annual ‘All Women’s Cycling Event’ will provide funds for The HAVEN Women’s Shelter Fund and programs that support victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Have Faith

Have Faith

The weather looks like it will be fair, slightly cloudy, with some light winds.  Near perfect conditions.  I am healthy and trained, and am familiar with the route (See my post – A Change of Direction).  However, I approach this ride with a bit of anxiety.

My first “organized ride” was not my best experience in cycling.  Mostly due to the extreme heat and some issues with my bike.   I keep telling myself that this is a different ride with different circumstances and that I am a different person.  And, my bike has been in for maintenance.  So why am I so concerned about a simple bike ride?

This ride is not just any bike ride.  It is my last ride in an organized event for the season. This ride is about about being better than I was six months ago.  It is about growth.  It is about being fully “recovered” and fully rehabilitated.  This ride is about knowing I can become someone I used to be and about becoming an even better version of that person.  This ride is about hope for me.  If I can successfully complete this ride, than I know that I can become that person again.  I know there is a chance to obtain the things I am striving for.  I know that I can reach some, if not all of my goals.  It is about faith for my future.

I have a lot riding on this ride, but I have faith. . . a confidence in my hope and assurance that I will get there!

And while I am hoping for better things and better days, what better cause to ride for than one that promotes hope.  And that’s what Haven is all about.

Live up and ride on!

A Change of Direction – The Dalles Riverfront Trail

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Ready to ride at the Rowena Crest Overlook

Ready to ride at the Rowena Crest Overlook

This past weekend I had plans to ride the Banks-Vernonia Trail, but plans were made to be changed and that’s what I did. Instead, I took a detour and stayed with my sister in The Dalles, Oregon where I spent some time riding along The Dalles Riverfront Trail.

The Riverfront Trail is a paved path along the Columbia River that runs to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. There are numerous sites to see along the trail – a Lewis & Clark campsite – the learning garden near the Google Data Center – and and endless view of wildlife and scenic beauty that borders the Columbia River.

I began my ride at the top of Rowena Crest Overlook. No, I did not climb the nearly 4 mile ascent, but I have done the climb in past days. This ride was all about enjoying the ride.  That and the fact that I was nursing some sore muscles, made my decision to start at the top easy. My sister dropped me off and it was smooth sailing from there. Rolling hills minus the heavy winds that usually dominate the old Columbia River Highway made for a challenging but easy ride.

From there it was around 3 more miles to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. I did make a short stop to stretch my legs and refill my water. And of course I had to take some photos of my bike near some of the wagons that lines the trail path.

Pioneering the Wild West

Pioneering the Wild West

From the Discovery Center the trail goes through a series of switchbacks that take you down to eye level with the river. The switchbacks were a bit steep and since I still have not yet taken my bike into the shop to adjust my brakes, I took the ride down hill somewhat cautiously. At that point the trail curves and turns through a wildlife refuge where dessert lizards, geese, and ground squirrels dot the landscape.

The entire ride was almost 15 miles long. Just enough to renew the mind and set everything right in my world. There is something spiritual about getting out into nature. It is when I ride that my soul is set free and God can fill my heart in a way like nothing or nobody else can. I hear clearer, see brighter and feel more passionately.

Riverfront Trail

Riverfront Trail

When I turn to nature, it turns my heart to God.   It turns my heart to Worship. Cathedrals have their place.  I can hear God in the stillness of my home.  But sometimes all it takes is a change of direction to hear God more clearly.  The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it (Ps 24:1), so why wouldn’t it turn my heart towards God?

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” – Job 12:7-10

When Life Slows You Down

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Shadows

Bike Shadows

As summer has come to a close and Fall has began to show its colors, I made a new discovery, an enlightenment so to speak.  I discovered that I have been cycling most of the summer with my brake pads rubbing against the tires.  I had issues earlier in the year when I rode the Apple Century and I thought I had them resolved, but unfortunately they were not.

This discovery made me both elated and a bit annoyed.  I was happy to know that my slow speeds and dead crawls were not about my current fitness level or lack thereof, but from the a simple mechanical malfunction. However, I am annoyed at myself that I did not discovery the problem earlier in the season.  I have spent countless hours contemplating giving up on cycling, while at the same time desiring to do longer rides and further distances.

You are so close

You are so close

You can only imagine the joy I felt when I adjusted the pads! I flew up and down hills with new movement, freedom and abandonment.  My movement was no longer stifled!

All of this made me consider life. Some times your brake pad rubs against your tire and impedes your speed. Sometimes events and circumstances stall your progress.  Sometimes mechanical malfunctions impede your dreams.  Sometimes you don’t get where you want to be when you want to get there.

On my last ride I made an effort to slow down and really see things. I have never stopped to read this board outside of my home town but have gone pass it many times. What are you missing because you don't slow down?

On my last ride I made an effort to slow down and really see things. I have never stopped to read this board outside of my home town but have gone pass it many times. What are you missing because you don’t slow down?

We all have a destination, a place we are striving to arrive at, but things get in our way.  We get distracted from the real problems and focus on that moment, forgetting the cause of our dysfunction. We obsess.  We plan.  We worry.  However, the problem may not be what you see on the surface.  There may be something that is hiding deceptively underneath the problem.

It may not be your spouse that misunderstands you.  It might be that you are not communicating.  It may not be that your co-worker is a jerk, it may be that he is facing something more than you know about.  The problem may not be your money, but simply your budget.  The problem may not be you, it may be something else that is stalling your progress.

Just slow down

Just slow down

For me, I had to slow down and take a long hard look at where I was.  I had to stop and evaluate the problem to discover the cause. Once I slowed down, I found out that what things that appeared to be, were not.  Not only did I discover that my brake pads were rubbing, but I discovered other things.  I found out that I don’t have to ride at the top speed to enjoy my ride.  I found out that simplicity and satisfaction can be found in a short trip.  And I rediscovered cycling in a new way, not a hurried, fast-paced, ride-as-fast-as-you-can way, but in a sense that I now know where I was going and why.

I know my destination, but I also know that I do not need to get there tomorrow. I have time and nothing is going to hold me back.

Live up and ride on!

Liv

Wallowa Lake & Joseph Railriders

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Wallowa Lake Oregon

Wallowa Lake Oregon

I haven’t done much writing recently.  Instead, I have been out enjoying the great outdoors.

This past weekend me and my friend took some time off work and did some camping at Wallowa Lake State Park near Joseph, Oregon.  Wallowa lake lies between the south end of a scenic glacial lake and the towering peaks of the Wallowa Mountains.

This is a great area if you like hiking and water activities, but there are plenty of other things to do.  We played some mini-golf, shopped in the local tourist shops and even stopped for a bit of ice cream.  Of course we did a little bit of hiking and enjoyed the surrounding trail on our bikes.  In fact, this was my roommates first time. She did great keeping up, though I know she will never be a serious cyclist.

We spent the weekend in a tent and found out shortly before we left that we could not have a campfire.  Extreme dry conditions in the Northwest have caused one of the largest outbreaks of forest fires in years.  Of course the weekend I am camping is when it decides to rain.  That’s Murphy’s Law right?

We still managed to stay somewhat dry, even in a tent, but by the end of the trip though we were ready to leave.  The last morning I got up early and slept in the car.  I never got warm from the dampness of the rain and it got just a bit too cold for me.  But by late morning the weather was perfect for our excursion with the Joseph Branch Railriders.  We quickly packed up and headed into Joseph for our departure location.

We are railriders!

We are railriders!

A railroad line once connected the towns of Joseph and Enterprise in Eastern Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains.  Trains no longer run the rail line, however it is now home to the Joseph Branch Railriders.

A railrider is part-bike and part old fashion rail car that rides on top of the railroad tracks.  It has two recumbent adjustable seats, and pedals that propel the unit forward at whatever speed you can pedal. Our route was a 12 mile round trip, from Joseph to Enterprise, but there is a more adventurous, 26-mile route, that runs from Minam to the city of Wallowa and back.

Beautiful scenery along the railrider lin

The railriders are one of just a few legal railrider lines in the US.  The line takes you away from traffic, through the fields and landscape of the region with the Wallowa Mountains rising in the background.  The trip down was quite easy, but coming back there was a slight climb.  But no worries if you are out of shape or slow, you can always get a push from the operator who follows you.

A view from the railrider

Beautiful landscape followed the trail and we even saw a doe and her baby.  If you have a couple of hours in your day and are in the Wallowa’s.  I highly recommend taking at trip down this quiet, lazy route back through time.

You can find out more information about the Joseph Branch Railriders by visiting their website.

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