To honor him on this day, I decided to have a "guest post" - our middle, Luke. A couple of years ago, Luke tried his hand at writing and we found that he's pretty darn good. He had a brief stint as a blogger, but gave it up for the sake of good grades and a little more sleep. I'm hoping he'll pick it up again when life is a little less "school-y", because he's good. Anyway, he wrote this piece and it so exemplifies both the kind of man that Brian is and the kind of kids he has raised, that I wanted to share it on this, the day set aside to honor him.
Through Hell's Gate
The sun was just beginning to rise. Leaning against my bike at the starting line, I got chill bumps on my arms. I knew they wouldn’t last for long though, the heat index would climb above 100 degrees before the ride was over. I wasn’t nervous, maybe I should have been, but I didn’t exactly know the challenge I was facing.
The “Hotter ‘n’ Hell 100” is a cycling event my family and I have gone to for the past four years. Thousands upon thousands of people come every year, from all over the country, to participate. The first two years I rode in the 100 kilometer (62 mile) distance, then I found a love of racing, and last year I raced that distance.
This year I haven’t had much time to train. I’ve only been able to ride three or four times in the past month, and the longest of those rides was only around 36 miles. So even though I really wanted to, I decided it would be a stupid idea to race. Apparently that didn’t stop me from coming up with another stupid idea.
Instead of racing I decided to do the non-competitive ride with my dad and my sister’s boyfriend, Jeff. I planned on doing the 100k ride, instead of the 100 mile, but when the routes split, I changed my mind. I thought “Hey, Jeff’s only been riding for three weeks, if he can do 100 miles, so can I.” So I turned on to the 100 mile route. It was only 26 miles in, and I was feeling pretty good, but then again, it was only 26 miles in.
27 miles in, we started drafting to save energy. I took some long pulls at the front, I was feeling pretty good.
50 miles in, I start to feel tired.
63 miles in, we pass through Hell’s Gate, the cutoff point, after that there’s no turning back.
64 miles in, I felt a twitch in my leg.
65 miles in, my legs started cramping. “Oh dang,” I thought, “there’s still a long way to go.”
I started drinking more water and Gatorade than I already had been, trying to get re-hydrated and stop the cramps. We had to stop every ten or fifteen miles just so I could stretch. I ate bananas, oranges, and potato chips, but nothing worked. I couldn’t stay hydrated, it was just too hot.
I prayed, “God give me the strength to get through this, Father just let me finish.” And I kept riding.
Around mile 80 my dad said he was getting concerned for my health, I wasn’t looking so good. He tried to get me to take the sag-wagon back. I almost took it, mostly I didn’t just because I couldn’t let myself quit, but maybe a little bit of it was a matter of pride. It’s a bad thing to have to take the sag-wagon back. So I told him I wanted to finish, and he let me go on.
The cramps and exhaustion got progressively worse.
Then God said something along the lines of, “I’ve given you the strength to finish, he’s right in front of you.”
My dad never left me. That whole time, he could have gone ahead and finished in his goal time. But he never left. He took pulls for miles on end, so that I could have enough energy to finish. He slowed down for me when I couldn’t move my legs to pedal because they were so tight. He shared his Gatorade with me when I ran out. Most importantly he let me decide to finish. Had he ordered me to take the sag-wagon back, I would have respected him and done so, but he didn’t, he let me finish.
So, finally, as the three of us came up to the 100th mile, my dad looked at us and said, “We cross together.” So we did, all at the same time.
They had a fire hydrant turned on for the riders to cool off in, so I took off my jersey and walked over to it. I spread my arms and let the water rain down on me, felt it wash away the sweat and the salt and the heat. It felt good. Pure and simple, good is really the only way to describe it.
And I prayed, “Thank you for my dad.”