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Belpre to Bridgeport. day three.

Day 3 tour recap!! Belpre Oh.- Bridgeport W.V.

Day 3 of our tour took our team from Belpre Oh. to Bridgeport W.V. We started the morning by receiving prayer from the Pastor at the Celebration Center before we hit the road. I volunteered to run sweep with one of my team leaders, Emily Gray, sweep is when you ride at the end of the pack of everyone to ensure that all of the team are okay and don’t get left behind as well as helping with flat tires/repairs. Emily, Tom and I started out and since Belpre is on the river across from Parkersburg W.V. we started our ride by cycling over the bridge into W.V. We got lost in Parkersburg’s historic district which was full of 100-200 year old beautiful mansions. We than meet up with the rest of the team at a gas station due to lightning. 

   At the Gas station we stopped and prayed while talking to a local who told us that our intended path ( a pretty flat 50 mile bike path) was in fact not rideable and instructed our team to take another route that would be on the shoulder of a major highway that would be littered with foothills( he was not lying) Since i was riding sweep in the back my group  we left  the gas station last. We had to stop a couple miles away from the station due to some bike issues of one of the riders in my group. We got back on the rode and began to hit the “foothills” of W.V. 

If you’ve never been on these foothills they’re essentially 1-3 mile long stretches of road in which the incline continues the entire time. Its one large and continuous climb. Needless to say these foothills are killers, especially since 9 times out of ten the down hills are considerably short and go straight into another foothill. The one thing I’ve learned about touring in this area is that it doesnt matter the milage you go, but the number of hills you take. 

The shoulder we were riding on was littered with gravel and trash/old tire pieces, and road debris. This lead to some problems later but regardless it made riding the downhills a little more dangerous/bumpy than expected. We had to stop due to some flats on my team mates bikes. Thats when the problems started for me, at the top of a very treacherous hill I noticed that my tire pressure was low and knew that I had a slow flat that was going to go completely flat real soon. So instead of changing my inner tube which would have been smart, and since I was looking forward to the down hill, I kept pedaling straight into the downhill (which was wonderful and lasted for longer than I thought) but alas, at the end of the hill my tube was completely shot. 

I knew that my team was behind me and I had no extra tubes on me so I waited on the side of the road for them to come. Instead after 20 minutes or so a man in a red pick up truck named Steven showed up to help me out with my tire. Evidentially he stopped and helped my  teammate Rich three miles prior, than stopped to help another one of my teammates who had gotten a flat (which is why my group hadn’t shown up yet) at the hill that I left them at. 

When trying to change the tire the tip of the presta valve on the inner tube I was using fell off, which left it useless than I had to wait until the venture van came to drop off an extra inner tube. This took a while, so three people from our group went ahead while emily and Cody waited with me. After switching the tube we were back on the road. 

At this point the hills began to take the best of my body and being behind on time the three of us began to push ourselves as much as we could to catch up. After I had gotten two other flats around mile 60 we stopped for lunch. Upon pulling up to the venture van to grab lunch we meet a hitch hiker named Richard who had been crossing the U.S. to write a term paper for college. He had a puppy with him named Blue, and along with our group we talked, shared stories from the road and enjoyed some lunch. 

It began to rain which was a wonderful relief from the sun and heart. We than had to jump in the van and pick up fellow teammates due to the rain and the dinner reception we had at the next church. 

Upon arriving at Living waters Church in Bridgeport W.V. we noticed that this little church in the hills( closer to mountains)  really knew how to throw together a meal! It was amazing! Full of Chick fila, sausages, pasta, rolls and a slew of other amazing treats. 

This was one of the hardest days of tour for me, but I learned so much through it! We ended the night enjoying stories from the day and nervousness for the next . Thanks to all who keep reading, this trip has changed my life and I’m eager to share it all with you! 

As always, Heres a video recap of the day from my friend Thomas Roepke, since he and I rode together alot this day you can see and here me throughout the video.

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day two!

tour recap Day two! Chillicothe Oh. to Belpre Oh.

Hey guys, Sorry i haven’t been able to keep up with posts lately, anyway here is a recap of tour day two! …and a video per usual thanks to Thomas Roepke. 

At the end of day one I had found a odd lump in my front tire, thinking it was the inner tube I stayed up late to try and figure it out. After much trying I ended up with the conclusion that it had to be the tire itself. So waking up the next morning, sore from the day before and knowing that I had this lump in my tire I was worried about how this day  was going to pan out. 

 We woke up at 4am (to beat the heat) and left around 6:30 am. Leaving Chillicothe I was riding in the front group, enjoying a very misty and temperate morning. It was a wonderful drive through some wooded stretches and some downhills, and even under an old train bridge!! We ended up stopping about 10 miles in to regroup with everyone. While waiting some of us took some pictures and joined in on some team stretches. At the first rest stop at mile 20 I decided to leave with group two in order to ride with some other people.

    It was a wonderful ride, but my body was extremely sore from the day before and sleeping on the floor that night. There were some sporadic hills but none to intense. We eventually stopped by a country store and while some of us used the bathrooms, the rest of us talked to the locals. This is honestly one of my favorite parts of trips like this, more to come about that shortly. At the country store we meet a  Fed Ex driver who told us about a 2 mile long hill that would be in our future.  Being a bigger guy, and riding a heavier bike the hills were definitely the down fall of me this trip. Needless to say that hill lived up to what the Fed Ex driver made it seem. It sucked. But while in keeping in a tight formation 6 of us climbed the hill and prayed the whole way up, which was amazing to notice how that changed the way in which we saw the obstacle at hand.

Near the top of the hill one of the riders in my group, Hannah, got her second flat of the day 😦 After spending 10 minutes fixing it we were back on the road. 

We reached the rest stop at mile 49 and enjoyed some snacks. At this point I decided to take the rest of the day off due to the incredible pain my back was in. I jumped in the Van with Emily and enjoyed pleasant conversation as well as cheering on the other riders as we passed them. We than found an extremely small country store in the middle of no where eastern Ohio which after an insane 20 minute downpour we decided to set up there for lunch. 

My hat goes off to the two ladies who run this shop, seriously the sweetest! Regina, the owner, was far too nice to us.  You could tell that the people who visited their store were all locals and that this was the only store for miles. Everyone who came in asked about what we were doing and who we were, which in perspective makes sense knowing that its doubtful that 25 people in spandex are a regular sight for them. 

Two little boys who lived up the road continually were riding little bikes down the hill in front of us, and we even patched one of their tires. It was a wonderful time as a team to enjoy the blessings we’ve been given in the areas we rode through.

We ended the night at The Celebration Center, a wonderful church in Belpre O.H. right across the river from Parkersburg W.V. When we rode into the church they already had an amazing meal set up for us! The hospitality we received from these two women and their pastor who cooked for us and set us up with a place to sleep was amazing! After dinner and a much needed shower we all laid out our sleeping bags and fell deeply asleep for the night. 

Thank you again for reading this, it brings me great joy to share these stories with you. 

-Keith. 

back from tour, updates!!!

Hey guys, I’m back from tour now and I plan on updating you all on the past week or so! Starting with my recap of the first day of riding!

Day one: Cincinnati to Chillicothe. (97 miles totaled)

We left the church we were staying at (Real life church) in Forest park OH. a town just outside of Cincinnati around 7:00am. I was really nervous on how the day and mileage would play out but also the whole team was ecstatic to finally be able to get on the road and start what we all came to do! The morning started with a large breakfast, ive never eaten as much as i did while on this tour in my entire life! We than broke up into our small groups to discuss the daily devotional in the Venture discovery guide given to everyone on tour. After this we checked our bikes, filled water bottles and filed outside for a group meeting. The leaders than distributed the route maps for the day. 

  We prayed while lifting our helmets, than set out for the first twenty miles. I was in the front group for the first twenty and it felt amazing to be a part of a moving pack of cyclists all for one goal! We prayed 27 minutes into our trip for the 27 million slaves in the world today. We reached our first rest stop 20 miles in right after an intense down hill onto a two lane road bridge suspended 20-30 ft. over a beautiful river. Those first thirty miles seemed to go by so quick it was wonderful!

The next forty miles came quickly as well, because the bike I was using was heavier then the other on my team the hills were a little bit of a challenge. At the next rest stop I decided to ride with the next group after mine. The stretch of roads between mile 20-60 progressively went from flat roads, plenty of shoulder and hardly any traffic to busy road, tons of semi trucks and a small grove of shoulder. Around mile 54 we than changed onto a road with much less traffic and found the support vehicle waiting for us in really sweet persons front lawn. We waited there for about an hour (to make sure we all ate lunch together) before the whole team was present. We ate a quick lunch and did some stretches.

 At this point it was time to get back on the road! My team leader Emily, my teammate Clay and I stayed in a group for the rest of the day. We stopped to let Emily try to pet some horses and goats. The next 37 miles of the day were progressively more and more hillier, which got harder for me on my bike. around mile 89 we stopped by a tree to get some shade and water due to the intense heat and meet a man named jerry. He let us into his home for some nice air conditioned relief and re-hydration. He kept pushing a swim in his swimming pool, which we had to accept( it was amazing, this man was such a blessing!!) 

We rode out the next 8 miles with no issues, and just one last hill! Than an amazing downhill! We ended at a church called Lighthouse Baptist which was in Chillicothe OH. We ate a huge spaghetti dinner than as everyone was falling a sleep i had to stay up for another hour and a half fixing some issues with my bike, but boy did i fall asleep quick that night!  

I leave you with a video compilation of the first day of our ride, shot by our resident filmographer and all around awesome guy, Thomas Roepke  check out his blog of our tour (much better than my own) at http://samgamgee.org 

 

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Day 1 ride!

Listen, Speak ,ride.

hey again!

So we got back from our training ride today, one of our riders got a little dehydrated but other than that it went awesome! Hit a couple of hills, ended up meeting up with one of the leaders of a Cincinnati cycling club as well as riding by the infamous Goody shop (awesome ice cream joint in forest hills Oh. ) But the coolest thing happened when we saw a car in the road with a dead battery and we all as a team jumped out of the van to push their car into the parking lot, which I feel is what this community is about!

 Secondly, we start tomorrow! Its crazy to know that the day and trip that I’ve been planning for, training for, and have sacrificed for,as well as asking others to join into this sacrifice with me, is in just a couple hours. Its amazing to see how much ive changed in these past months and even the past days, and im even more ready to see the ways in which this trip will change my life. 

With tomorrow coming ive  felt like Gods been reminding me of three words going into this trip and those are Listen, speak,ride . Basically the four things i have to do this trip in order of importance. 

  • Listen: to god, and those around me as they tell their story and God reveals to me things within my own heart that I’ve never noticed. 
  • Speak: To speak of why we’re riding, and the injustice that of this world. To share as much that I can about slavery, and IJM’s work to end slavery.
  • Ride: Lastly, and the least important (seems kinda backwards huh?) is to ride my bike in order to maintain a platform and action in which to share the stories of injustice in this world. As free people Jesus calls us to sacrifice for those who have yet received the blessings of Freedom.
 
“If your not safe, nothing else matters” -Gary Haugen (founder of IJM)