As part of the ChristianCycling.com Build The Body Ride next Saturday, I plan to race Odin's Revenge in Gothenburg, Nebraska. On that day, folks all over the country will be participating with their own rides, races and events to support ChristianCycling and our ministry partners Samaritan's Purse, Teen Challenge and Athletes in Action. I look forward to sharing the day with everyone, as we each continue our own unique journey through this world filled with wonder. For more information about the "Build the Body Ride," simply go to ChristianCycling.com. Or ask me. God bless.
To set the stage, here is my race report from last year's Odin's Revenge, which appeared as a FaceBook photo album. Hopefully this year will be a little less mud and a little more speed.
We each have our journey on this earth. Part of my journey led me to Odin's Revenge, a 170 mile gravel and dirt road race in Gothenburg, Nebraska. Through the mud and miles, the moments shared with fellow riders and volunteers, the hours alone, and the simple joy of riding a bike through the wonders of creation, I will cherish this experience. Thanks to all who shared their weekend.
We're all smiles at the 06:00 Odin's Revenge start. Shaun Arritola again demonstrated wisdom beyond his years by opting for the 60 mile "short" course. Me, not so much. It's go time for 170 miles of whatever the day brings. (photo by Scott Redd) — with Shaun Arritola in Gothenburg, Nebraska.
Friday night's downpour onto supersaturated soil turned Gothenburg gravel into quicksand and dirt into greasy muck. These early miles were challenging. (photo by Scott Redd) — in Gothenburg, Nebraska.
An early dirt road, or "minimum maintenance road," that was actually rideable. Most were ankle deep mud slides with wheel-sucking crevasses. My advanced mass was not an advantage on the slick steeps. — in Gothenburg, Nebraska.
A more typical "minimum maintenance" road prominent throughout the first 30 miles or so. Most walked, or even carried, their bikes up. Whether up or down, I rode less as the miles, and fatigue, accumulated. (photo by Scott Redd) — in Gothenburg, Nebraska.
Somewhere at a spot much like this, I was about done. The computer said 29 miles, the clock said 4.5 hours, the body said you're working far too hard this early and the mind said the 87 mile time cutoff was impossible. My spirit said keep moving, but even if the conditions changed radically and immediately, I had neither the strength or the time. (photo by Scott Redd) — in Gothenburg, Nebraska.
I was done. I closed my eyes. I said, "Lord, my big plans for today are over. I cannot even make the race cutoff time. This day is now for You. I'm sorry for not doing this before, but I'm committing to this now. Whatever You have in mind for me today, I'm all in." A great burden was lifted. I practically pranced up that hill to find what lay ahead. — in Gothenburg, Nebraska.
Within a few minutes, I crested that hill. There stood Chad Quigley, one of the race organizers, proclaiming that we had come through the worst, that the sun had poked through the overcast skies and that an unexpected wind had picked up force. Roads were drying quickly. He then added that, due to the conditions, the 87 mile time cutoff was extended 2 hours. Wow. How could I stop now? How could I stop at all? I had His purpose, at least for this day. Ride. Just ride. — in Gothenburg, Nebraska.
Grateful to finally pull into Check Point 1, I found cyclists sprawled about like a M*A*S*H triage unit. In stark contrast, the ever-smiling, friendly face of Mark Stevenson greeted me and encouraged me, even as he called his race over. Those first 47 miles took me almost 6.5 hours, but I now had the strength and time to continue to hope for making that cutoff. (photo by Merrie Mitchell-Quigley) — with Mark Stevenson in Gothenburg, Nebraska.
Now, with many of the gravel roads firming up and the worst of the dirt roads behind us, I'm cruising in high spirits. It's well into the afternoon and the 87 mile cutoff is hours away, but riding with purpose is a game-changer. (photo by Scott Redd) — in Gothenburg, Nebraska.
By late afternoon, the sun and wind worked wonders on the roads. The cutoff time was now in reach and hope began to stir for an opportunity to keep riding. I enjoyed riding with Scott Redd during this stretch and even stopped for a cemetery shot to commemorate the winter prairie training rides with Shaun Arritola. — in Gothenburg, Nebraska.
I spun into the 87 mile cutoff with an hour to spare! I'm still able to ride! The next 30 miles or so were some of the best miles I have ever covered on a bike. Early evening on Ridge Road revealed 5 miles of stunning prairie panorama. Some of those miles were less than smooth due to a pockmarked pattern of sun baked cattle hoof prints. But, all told, those early evening hours were filled with the simple joy of pedaling a bike through God's creation. — in Gothenburg, Nebraska.
Sunset at Government Pocket Road, yet another "minimum maintenance road" that was a joy to ride, now that it was mostly rideable. When I eventually reached the 137 mile Check Point 3 at Potter's Pasture, the jet black night sky simply burst wide open with stars. I'm sorry that I didn't take pictures of the awesome volunteers along the way. Please know that your efforts were greatly appreciated. — in Gothenburg, Nebraska.
Flying into the finish to the roars of the crowd? Better yet. Shaun Arritola sets his alarm to wake up to meet me at the finish at 03:00. And he brings a cold bottle of chocolate milk, my go-to emergency energy source and favorite recovery drink. Thanks, so much, Shaun. Turns out I finished both 6th overall and dead last. No way was that possible alone. God bless. — in Gothenburg, Nebraska.