My riding isn’t training. It’s how I play. Sure, I’ll push myself, but only because I want to play better, longer. I’m all about that sense of adventure and challenge.
During the years I lived out in Choctaw, the eastern end of the county, I had plenty of isolated roads to ride. In my mind, the more interesting stuff started at least 5 miles out in any direction, but that’s actually a short ride. So during the summer months, I could hit the road early in the morning and avoid both traffic and the worst of the hottest hours of the day and still get in a long ride. In particular were some lovely long rides farther east of home, and some to the south, over the county lines.
Where we live now, just getting out that way is ten miles or more, and it means passing through some high traffic areas. The bike collision was just a few months after we moved, so all last summer I was unable to ride at all. I never had a chance to test what it was like cycling in the summer heat from this location.
Now I’m having to consider what would work better for me. Riding north on Midwest Boulevard into the hills is getting less attractive, as the traffic has picked up an awful lot. Heading east during the summer means facing all those allergens that plagued me every year living out that way (half the reason I moved). If I ride south to Draper Lake, the trails are out, as is Miracle Hill, because of the biting insects. That means just the paved Draper lake drive. In all, it leaves mostly the purpose built bike trails westward in OKC.
I’ve lived in worse places, but I’ve also lived in some biking wonderlands. For example, the Netherlands was a paradise for cyclists. The traffic planning smartly addressed their presence, with special lanes, integrated bike traffic signals, etc. I rode (and hiked) all over the Benelux and western Germany, and visited a lot of other places in Europe as part of my military adventure.
But the one thing I’ll most remember about that tour of duty was how it represented such a highlight in my mission calling. When I went back into the military a second time in the late 1980s, I could not have envisioned anything that happened to me. I was prepared to endure the unpleasant aspects of a previous tour of service, but it ended up nothing like that. Not only was it a pleasant military assignment, but it was a mission opportunity like no other.
The particular mix of people there at the time gave me a perfect opportunity to share my faith. Not so much with unbelievers, but I shared with believers hungry to find greater intimacy with God and a deeper commitment. They wanted what I had. I was part of a small team making that happen, transforming various existing chapel programs into something real. Our chaplains were no hindrance at all, happy to see the active expressions of faith. For a solid five years we built up a very large and morally powerful presence of faith in that military community.
Eventually it fell apart. There was a significant rotation of personnel. Too many key enablers moved on and the new senior chaplain was hyper-liturgical. He pushed us out of the programs, replacing us with his chosen team of volunteers. I no longer led the music or youth group; my Sunday School class was passed to someone else, and some of my community outreach of was curtailed. We all found other places to serve outside the main chapel organization. The small team was stuck for about a year before it was our turn to leave.
That was 25 years ago. I’ve come an awful long way since then, traveling farther in my soul’s journey than any number of mere miles. I believe it’s time for another mission, one last adventure before I’m ready to give up.