Cycling has changed my life.
Three years ago it hit me that I was a year away from turning 55. I decided to do something “epic” to mark that milestone.
I thought about running a marathon, but my knees and joints said, “No, you’re not.”
I thought about hiking 55 solo miles on the Appalachian Trail–but my back said, “I don’t think so.”
And then I vaguely remembered hearing something about a group that does a bike ride across the state every year.
I was having Thanksgiving with my family, and I mentioned this to my brother, and he said, “You know, there’s a guy in your church who does that ride every year.” The next Sunday Kenny Phelps stopped me after church and said, “I hear you’re interested in the CNC.”
The CNC. That’s shorthand for the Cycle North Carolina Mountains to Coast Bike Ride.
This was December of 2016. Kenny became my de facto cycling coach. He told me how to train. He gave me books and DVDs. He told me all about cycling clothes and cycling equipment. He sold me my first road bike and convinced the local bike shop to give me a free fitting. He took me out on the road and showed me where and how to ride.
Then, in October of 2017, I did the CNC for the first time. Jefferson to Swansboro in seven days. 453 miles total. It was hard, painful, and exhausting.
And it was a spiritual experience.
I learned what it means to persevere–to persevere through pain–to experience in real time what the Apostle Paul talks about in his letter to the Philippians:
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind, and straining toward what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal…”
And I was reminded, once again, of the immense value of coaching. I never could have accomplished this on my own.
Tomorrow I’ll begin the 2019 CNC in Hickory. Despite missing the first day (the ride actually begins in Blowing Rock), I’ll still be riding 430 miles by the time I get to Atlantic Beach on Saturday.
Cycling has changed my life. I don’t think it’s going too far to say that it’s given me a new outlook on life. It’s certainly given me a wonderful hobby, a great way to meet new people, and a really fun way to stay in shape.