Climbing back on the bike on day 6–our last day of RAGBRAI was easier than I expected it to be.
At least physically. My legs weren’t quite as sore, and actually, they felt stronger than ever. Biking for days straight built more muscle than I remembered from last year. My tail wasn’t bothersome either. A little stretching cured the stiffness, and I’m sure my morning coffee helped, too.
Emotionally, though, that was a different story. I didn’t expect to be saddened with the realization it was our last day of this incredible experience. Our RAGBRAI 2015 would be soon coming to an end.
It was a beautiful morning out on the Iowa roads. The cloud cover helped keep temperatures low, and I appreciated the break from the scorching sun.
Pulling into beautiful Mount Vernon, we planned to spend some time there enjoying the town’s atmosphere until my friend Patty gave me a head’s up that a storm was approaching. Thankful for her text, we decided to move on, hoping maybe we could stay ahead of it.
We traveled on to Lisbon, the town where we lived in my early childhood years. Keeping our focus on moving forward, as we made our way out of town, a certain street looked familiar to me. I asked Bill to turn onto it, and as he obliged, there it was. My childhood home. It looked different than I remembered, the color and the layout, but I knew that was it. Tears formed as the memories of simpler days came rushing back. Oh, to be five years old again.
Here I was 40 years later, on the back of a tandem, soaking in the view of the yard I used to play in, the long driveway I used to walk, run, and bike up and down, my bedroom window, and the trees I used to run around. I guess you could call it a full-circle moment.
And it was priceless and precious for me.
We continued on, took a surprise turn to Sutliff, and the sprinkles began to fall. (A scene from The Final Season was filmed on the Sutliff bridge.) Waiting it out in the local pub, we ran into friends of ours whom we spent nearly the remainder of the ride with. We were thankful to remain dry!
After the rain moved on, so did we. Making our way to Solon, the Coralville Dam, and then finally Coralville. It would be so easy to just end there, and skip sharing the unpleasantries that appeared on this last leg of our ride. But… the hills were horrendous. Horrendous! I had never biked such hills before. They took everything out of us. I became increasingly grumpy. I allowed my attitude to become critical and selfish.
I went from being sad it was going to be over, to looking forward to it ending in a matter of hours!
But something happened on the last hill. We were questioning if we could do it. Do we give up and walk the bike up, or do we keep peddling? Do we give into the pain, the muscle weakness, the exhaustion? Or do we fight through it and make it to the top on the bike? With each pedal stroke we encouraged one another… “We can do it.” “We can do it.” “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”
Arriving at the top, a sense of victory followed. It was a picture of our lives… encouraging one another as we keep peddling through life. When the horrendous hills come, we’ll arrive at the top when our focus is on the One who gives us strength. We can’t do any of it by ourselves. We need each other.
As we came to our finish line, our son was waiting to pick us up and take us home. What a blessing! What a gift the day was, the week was! I felt complete exhaustion and complete joy, all at the same time.
Tomorrow’s post will wrap up our week. Thank you for journeying with us on our RAGBRAI 2015 adventure.
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