Sunday Afternoon Musings
I have been riding a bike for about five years. This years goals: a 60 and 100K ride, and a 1,000 total miles. (So far: 60k ride done. 100k ride will come in the next two weeks, and this summer’s mileage stands at 752 miles down.) Here’s some of the reasons I love spending time in a bike saddle. Depending on the length of a ride, all or some of these come into play but all of them are important to me.
- To Get in Shape: When my weight was approaching 190 lbs and my cholesterol was climbing higher I needed to do something. Running hurt my back and my knees at that weight. Biking became the alternative and I liked it. I bought a 40 lb department store mountain-bike hybrid with thick tires and started riding about 5 years ago. Today I’m down to 170 and my cholesterol is under control.
- To Challenge Myself: I’ve made deal with myself. Every non-commuting ride has to be longer in time, or longer in distance, or faster-paced than the last ride. It’s a game I play. It’s small internal competition. It helps keep the old competitive juices of a former division one runner (not a good one) going. Athletes, even bad ones, love to compete with something.
- To Focus My Prayer: One of the delights for me while I ride is to pray for the communities I ride through, for my family, for the church family, and myself. I have had some times of soaring worship on the seat of my bike, at times fighting back tears of joy at the wonder of the gospel and the beauty of Christ. At other times the tears have been salty with sorrow as God brought repentance to my heart over some failure of spirit or action.
- To Give Me Time to Think: There are times when it is unbelievably helpful to NOT have a pen, a computer, a book, or phone to distract from pure undistracted time to think. Just think. Not record. Just think. Not write. Just think. Being on the bike for a 20 miles ride gives undistracted time to think about problems to solve, decisions that have to be made, and even the meaning and purpose of life.
- To Give Me Time to Reflect: Reflection is like thinking but the distinction for me is that reflection is time to analyze the past. Time on the bike is often a time to reflect on questions like: What worked? Why did it work? Why didn’t it work? What would I do differently? How can I improve? What is God teaching me? How can I be more responsive to His Spirit? A man or woman who doesn’t take time to reflect will stagnate their own growth and potential.
- To Learn: I have learned to recognize what is going on in the fields in farm country. Nearly every week, I have a question for one of the farmers in our congregation about something I saw and don’t understand or want to learn. From types of machines, to why this crop as opposed to that crop, who is growing what and for whom—all kind of new discoveries. I think, fundamentally, I just like to learn new things and riding exposes me to a lot of new things.
- To Appreciate: As the miles roll by, it is hard to not appreciate all of the hard work that the farmers of this area put into their work of growing food for the rest of us. Long hours, sometimes brutal weather conditions, machinery breakdowns, complications with soil, with bugs, with too much water, too little water, too much or too little water at the wrong time—farmers just keep on going, working faithfully day after day to provide for both their families and for the rest of us. It makes me appreciate all that they do and all that we have in our country.
- To Save Money: Three to four days a week, I commute to work on the bike, sometimes more. That’s just 6 miles round trip, but I like to think of it as less wear and tear on the car, less gas in the engine, less pollution into the air. It also frees up dollars to spend on other things. It makes it easier to pick up the tab for someone’s lunch, to give gas money to someone who is out of work. I love the idea of doing something that gives me more opportunity to bless others.
- To Meditate on the Word: One of the great pleasures of being on the bike is the time to meditate on the Scripture. I have learned some life-changing things while meditating on the Lord’s Prayer on an 18 mile ride.
- To Spend Time with the Guys: I’ve only done it two times in five years, both in the last 6 months. I have gone out with first one, then four other guys for a ride. Wow! What a difference! Conversation makes the ride go quicker. Trading leaders and drafting one another makes the ride go faster. I look forward to doing this more in the future. But because of #1-9, I’ll never give up riding alone completely.
That’s what I do. I find it productive in helping me live a more balanced life. All of the reasons I ride are values that all of us should cultivate in some way.
- We all need to take care of our bodies.
- We all need to challenge ourselves at some level.
- We all need to focus our prayer.
- We all need to take more time to think and reflect.
- We all need to learn new things.
- We all need to grow in our appreciation of others.
- We all could learn to save some money so we can bless others.
- We all need to meditate on the Scripture.
- We all need to grow in our relationship with other brothers (or sisters) in Christ.
This is just one man’s model. Figure out your plan. Do it for the glory of God.