You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Cycling’ category.

I ride my bicycle to commune with God; the exercise is icing on the cake. Our conversations are most often about people He has me praying for, conversations I need to have with others, or lessons we are preparing to write or teach. Every once in a while, God uses the ride to show me something about myself and/or His kingdom.

Here’s one from the other day.

Distractions are a big part of cycling – passing cars and approaching dogs in particular. Most are not a threat, but it only takes one. Having to deal with them on a regular basis has taught me to allow distraction when necessary, and then get back to matter at hand. It has become a natural part of the process.

I wish I could say the same about hills.

Hills are different than cars and dogs. They don’t generate the same adrenaline spike as a ferocious dog on the loose or a driver passing on a hill. In fact, they don’t scare me at all. On the other hand, they last longer, the distress builds over time, and the distraction is real and present discomfort and pain.

Hills are a major distraction to my communion with God.

For me, hills are a metaphor for the challenging seasons of our lives. These may be momentary, lengthy, or any amount of time in between. God has used the hills in my life to reveal a few things about myself and my relationship with Him:

  1. The more I focus on the pain, the greater the pain becomes.
  2. When I set my mind on things above, the hill is not only less of a distraction, but easier to navigate.
  3. The approach I take has a dramatically positive effect on my mental and physical response to the effort after cresting the hill.
  4. It occurs to me as I write this that having a riding partner to remind me of these things – and encourage me in them during the climb – would be an incredible blessing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 1Corinthians 16:13

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving… Colossians 4:2

As I’ve written in the past, God has blessed me with cycling. It is a threefold blessing. The most obvious blessing is the exercise. Cycling is one of the better choices for maintaining a healthy life. Like swimming, it puts very little stress on your joints and is great for your cardiovascular system. Consequently, cycling is something most can do well into their latter years.

Another blessing of cycling: I really enjoy it. You can cover more ground and see more stuff on a bicycle than you can running or swimming. There is a unique feeling of freedom when you are on a bike. If you are going to sweat, then why not enjoy doing it.

The greatest blessing I get from cycling is the communion I have with God. He is my regular cycling partner. He hears my prayer requests, gives me advice, and occasionally corrects me on our rides. I can’t tell you how many ideas He has given me while cycling. Every once in awhile, He teaches me a spiritual (cycling) lesson. Here’s one I think will edify and encourage you.

I have recently noticed that when I am pushing through a challenging section of a ride, my concentration shifts from the conversation to the obstacle. Halfway up the hill, I suddenly realize that I dropped my prayer, or let go of the scripture God was speaking to me about. Not a big deal – I normally remember where we were – but there is a lesson or two in it.

Maintaining form, cadence and breathing tempo must be second nature if I am going to make it to the top of the hill. There is simply no time or energy for these things when my mind is focused on getting my body to do something it doesn’t want to do. Form, cadence and breathing are cycling disciplines that the wise cyclist will work to refine when the going is not so tough.

Similarly, it occurs to me that we cannot wait until life gets hard to begin practicing the necessary spiritual disciplines (e.g., prayer, Bible study, beholding the glory of the Lord). These must become our very nature if we hope to thrive on the hills of life. I hope you are practicing now; for difficult days are coming soon.

The second lesson I learned relates to my communion with God during the challenging portions of my ride. As I mentioned, conversations are easily lost; as are my prayer requests for others. This may not be the case for you, but I am easily distracted.

Conversely, the hills are easier to tackle when I am praising or thanking God. Somehow I am able to focus on these mental activities; and they take my mind off the pain in my legs and lungs. Perhaps this applies as well to our times of spiritual trial and tribulation. What do you think?

 

God bless you with the strength and courage to face your trials and tribulations with practice discipline and proper focus. He will be with you; and you will be blessed.

 

Humbly yours and His forever,

Those that desire to finish well in the professional cycling world talk about “leaving it all out on the road”. Their desire is to have nothing left in the tank when they cross the finish line. This means pushing hard at the end; even pushing beyond reasonable limits.

The same is true for those of us that cycle for exercise. If I am going to take the time, I want to get everything I can out of it. When I finish riding, I don’t want to feel like I can ride some more.

I am blessed in this regard by the geographic location of my house (up the hill from Dog River in South Douglas County). Most of my rides end with a difficult climb and a 1.5 mile rolling finish. At the top of the climb (from either direction on Banks Mill Road), I always feel like I have squeezed every bit of energy out of my body.

However, I have learned that my body is most often holding something back. This is actually a scientifically proven phenomenon – our bodies trying to protect themselves. Fortunately, my mind knows something my body doesn’t; and I have the willpower to push my body beyond its comfort limits. Most rides, I am able to do a full out sprint for the last 1.5 miles. The result: A satisfied feeling of well done, better health, and a deeper understanding of what my body is truly capable of accomplishing.

It recently occurred to me that this cycling lesson is a great analogy for those in kingdom of God that desire to finish well. Like the energy my body consumes before a ride, the Lord has invested much into our being His ambassadors in the Marketplace. His assignments are like the rides I take a couple of times every week.

With each assignment, our souls have a choice to make: Will we finish our assignment well, leaving all we have been given out on the road, or will we let our natural tendencies to hold back, rob us of the “well done”? If we choose to push beyond our comfort limits, not only will we finish satisfied, we will also grow stronger and learn what the power of God is able to do with a vessel that is sold out for His glory.

God bless you with the strength and courage to go beyond your natural abilities, walking with Him into the supernatural assignments He has reserved for you.

 

Humbly yours and forever His,

I live less than a mile from Dog River. Do you ever wonder what the people who name things are thinking? Rivers aren’t shaped like dogs. Was there a dog in the river? Given the terrain in this part of the county, it could be that coming up the hills from Dog River make you sweat like a dog, and they make you dog tired.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We are not talking about riding in the Colorado Rockies, but for a 54 year old man the hills around here can be quite the challenge. To give you an idea, I can’t ride four miles from my house without having to make at least four substantial (for a 54 year old) climbs. Usually, my 18 to 20 mile rides come with six or eight challenging segments.

I must admit there have been days since I broke my hip when I wished we lived closer to the Silver Comet Trail (built on a train track bed, it is nice and flat). But, that was then, and this is now. Now, my mind has been changed. God gave me an attitude adjustment about those hills, just the other day.

He said, “The hills are not your enemy.” That’s right; that’s what He said. Here’s the rest: Read the rest of this entry »

Sometimes, you just don’t have it. I went out riding today… and I just didn’t have it. I didn’t have my normal energy level. It just wasn’t there. Two days ago I put in a big effort; not on my bike, but working in the yard. Consequently, I was tired from the start of my ride and it didn’t take long for me to realize that nothing was going to change the way I felt. I just didn’t have it.

What was I to do? Turn around and head back home? No way! I would have to be ill for that to happen – ill enough to call someone to come get me. Once I start a ride, I am not turning around. I like riding that much. It’s my exercise. It’s my relaxation. Most importantly, it’s always a time with God (check out Don’t Ride Alone for more on that topic). He teaches me things when I ride with Him.

So, no turning around; I just had to deal with not having it. I considered my options. I could have ignored the feeling; but “fake it ’til you make it” doesn’t really work on the hills around my house. I could have gobbled down a few energy gels… then called someone to come get me when I got seriously sick to my stomach. I could have gritted my teeth and fought through the feeling, forcing myself to keep up my normal exertion level. I’ve learned, however, that this is only subtly different than the ignorance tactic; and it never ends well.

Fortunately, I have experienced the “just don’t have it” feeling before. If you exercise (or work in your yard) regularly, I am sure you have felt it, too. Like you, I have tried a few unsuccessful strategies and learned from those mistakes. Along the way, I have discovered that the only way to enjoy the ride (or the yard work) is to use what energy I have. Read the rest of this entry »

One of my favorite areas to ride is around the Chattahoochee Hill Country in South Fulton County, Georgia. Most regulars call it Silk Sheets. Cyclists come from all over Atlanta to enjoy this popular cycling destination. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, there are the silky smooth roads and the rolling hills – miles and miles of them. You could ride all day and not cover all the roads that twist, rise and fall across the area. You could ride a different route every day for a month (something very important to many cyclists). There is very little traffic around Chattahoochee Hill Country. The few vehicles that you may encounter are courteous and careful. They are good about sharing the road.

Then there are the dogs – or the lack thereof. The few I have seen hardly give me a second look. Perhaps they are just tired from chasing others, they are bored with the pursuit, or they just don’t see much challenge in running down this slow cyclist. Whatever the reason, it is wonderful!

It also occurs to me that many people come to Silk Sheets because there are so many people that come to Silk Sheets. They enjoy the community feel. Even those like me – that ride alone – feel a connection with the passing cyclists that wave and say good morning, or afternoon.

Yes, there are many reasons for taking the time to travel to South Fulton County for a bike ride. There is one other – the best one by far (at least to me). The thing I enjoy most about Silk Sheets is the scenery. Chattahoochee Hill Country is the most beautiful place I have ever ridden my bike. And that brings me to the latest lesson I learned while riding. Read the rest of this entry »

After putting three screws in my hip, the doctor told me how to take care of it. He said if I did the necessary work, I would get 95-98% of my functionality and strength back. For six long weeks I had to use a walker to avoid putting weight on that leg. Using that walker was painful, aggravating and inhibiting.

Six weeks after my surgery, the doctor told me to start using crutches, and begin seeing a physical therapist. Three weeks later, the physical therapist told me to start bearing weight on the injured leg; beginning with 50%, and increasing gradually over the next six weeks. He also told me about the stretches and exercises I could do at home to strengthen my hip and the atrophied supporting muscles. Eventually, he told me to put the crutches down and walk normally.

Now, what do you think would have happened if I had been a hearer of what the doctor and physical therapist said, but not a doer? According to the doctor, it would have been absolutely disastrous. If I had, in my aggravation, tried to walk too soon, I would have broken the hip again – resulting in another surgery to replace it entirely. If I had not started walking, stretching and exercising when I was told, my muscles would have atrophied further and I would have gotten necrosis of the bone in my hip (and hip replacement surgery). Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Family and Friends,

Many things are best understood in the experience of that thing.  Most of us know that God heals.  He is our Great Physician – our Jehovah Rapha.  But do we really know that until we have experienced it?  Alas, many have had the opportunity, only to give doctors and medicine the credit.

Did my doctor do great work?  Yes, he did.  But he did not heal me.  There is only one Healer.

I have learned, and posted, many lessons while riding… a bicycle.  I intend to post some more.  Today, I just want to share that I have learned – no experienced – that God heals.  Now, just to be clear:  I have experienced this before.  I am 54, after all.  But, you know what, experiencing God’s healing power – to know God heals – is an experience that is truly worth the pain, no matter how many times you experience it.

So, let me share with you that I am back to riding the distances and hills that I was riding before I broke my hip – less than six months ago.  I was told that it might take 12 months to get back to my pre-accident capability.  I am not all the way there, but God has me way ahead of schedule.

I thank you all for your prayers and loving care.  Most of all, I thank our Great Physician for this wonderful adventure.

Your servant and His forever,

I have a cycling computer that measures my current speed, average speed, cadence, heart rate, etc. It’s amazing what those little things can do. I purchased this small wonder because cyclists better than I had one. Also, I was taught during my time in the corporate world that measuring oneself led to improvement; and I wanted to be the best cyclist I could be.

My cycling computer has done what I bought it to do, and more. It has become my electronic riding partner. It encourages me to push harder at certain stages of my ride. It motivates me to finish each ride a little faster than the previous one. It “pats me on the back”; letting me know at the end of each ride that I have accomplished something.

My cycling computer has become a very important part of my riding experience; and that’s not appropriate. How do I know? Well, God showed me.

You see, becoming a better rider is not the only reason I cycle. I cycle to maintain (maybe even improve) my health. I cycle because I enjoy the outdoors. I cycle because there is still a bit of kid in me, and every kid likes to ride a bike. At least they did when I was a kid.

Most of all, I cycle to meet with God. Like some who go for walks to get away with God, I climb on a bike and start pedaling. God meets me there. He asks me questions; and He answers many of mine. He gives me direction – for myself and for those whom He has made me responsible. I cannot begin to express how blessed and thankful I am that God would allow me to spend time with Him while enjoying the benefits of cycling.

God also corrects me when we are out riding. He always relates His life lessons to my cycling; many times using my adventures in cycling as metaphors for more important matters. I would like to share the latest with you as an introduction to a series I am calling “Lessons While Cycling”. (If you come up with a better title, please let me know.)

Measurement Pitfalls

On a recent ride, I noticed that I was having a difficult time focusing on my conversation with God. It troubled me; maybe because it seemed to be a developing pattern. So I asked God, “What’s the problem here?”

At that very moment, I caught myself looking down at my cycling computer, checking to see how my average speed was looking. God said, “That’s the problem. That little device has become a distraction.”

With more hesitation than I would like to admit, I turned my “cycling partner” off (the computer, not God). And then God began to reveal to me the pitfalls of measurement. Here are the ones I have learned so far:

  1. Measuring my performance distracts me from enjoying God’s presence. It motivates me to perform at a higher level for my own satisfaction. This focus on performance and self is the opposite of what God wants for my life. He wants me to focus on Him.
  2. Measuring a secondary goal (i.e., becoming a better cyclist) tends to promote that goal as something more important than goals that are not being measured. Because the measure is more immediate and definite, it now dominates my attention, drawing me away from the other reasons I ride: Enjoying the outdoors and being in God’s presence.
  3. Measuring itself can become more important than it should. Measuring should be a tool to ensure someone or something is on track. When we allow it to be the source of our reward, encouragement and satisfaction, it becomes an idol.
  4. Measures must be carefully associated to God’s desire, purpose, goal, values and plan. I believe God wants me to be healthy; and He approves of me becoming the best rider I can be. However, when I take ownership of the measure, I risk taking control of the goal and plan.
  5. This can end badly. For example, I realized that I was pushing myself so hard to ride faster, that I was damaging my body. My motivator should be the goal of staying healthy. If the measure associated with that goal (i.e., riding faster) is my motivator, then it can do quite the opposite – driving me to hurt myself through over-training.
  6. Measures can be used to deceive. We can deceive ourselves (e.g., determining that the pain is worth the gain). We can also be deceived by others (e.g., a sales person padding the numbers).

These lessons have some serious applications in our everyday life. For example, one of my most important goals in life is to love my wife more each day. If the measures of my love for her (How much does she recognize my love? How much do I feel her loving me back?) becomes my motivation, then I run the risk of it, and her, becoming an idol.

Kept in perspective, her response is only a measure of my effectiveness at loving her. It should not be my motivator. My motivator should be my obedience to the One that says, “Love her”. If I am doing well, then I turn to God and say, “Thank you.” If I am doing poorly, I turn to God and say, “Help me.” In either case, I turn to God.

Measuring is not a bad thing, as long as it is kept in proper perspective. In fact, the discipline of turning to God at the end of the day may be as important as at the beginning. It can be the time of examination and assessment, correction and encouragement over the things God has been trying to do with us that day (e.g., loving my wife). This becomes a protected time in the presence of God; a time that allows us to renew our minds, and train our souls, to live this way continually.

BTW: This is true regarding our measurement of others. Yes, as leaders we are required to measure other people, both their performance and their character. Measurement is a part of leading with diligence. W hatever we discover in our measurement of others, we must bring it to God and His purpose, goals and plan for that person. This is a key factor in what we call “accountability”.

The Rest of the Story

So, I have decided to put away my computer for now. I am refocusing on the most important reason I ride: To commune with God. Interestingly, the first time I did this, it seemed that I was stronger physically. When I got home, Beth commented, “That didn’t take long.”

Each ride since has been the same. There is something supernatural going on here. And there is a life lesson: Be suspicious of your measures. Have they become motivators? Have they pushed out God? Have you prioritized your measures to match the priority of their related goals? Are you responding to your measures appropriately?

Your servant and His forever,

I live in the Dog River Basin. That means hills, lots of hills; hills that are relatively difficult (at least for me). I cannot ride five miles from my house without encountering at least four challenging climbs. God has used the hills around my house to teach me some interesting things about His kingdom, and my walk in it.

God first showed me that hills can be a distraction. This happened while riding on a relatively flat, and very pleasant, section of my route; think smooth road, few cars, lot of trees and sunshine. I should have been enjoying myself. Instead, I was troubled. There was a hill coming up; and two or three more after that. I caught myself dreading the ride, and wondering what I was doing out there. Silly, I know; but that’s what hills can do to you, if you let them.

God’s lesson that day: Don’t think too far ahead – particularly about hills. I am sure you see the connection this has with real life; even life in the real world – the place where we spend most of our waking hours; the place we call the Marketplace. Whether it’s running a business, defending a client, teaching a classroom of students, or trying to be your best in your favorite sport, it’s just not a good idea to let the future distract you from the pleasures of the moment. Jesus said it like this:

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:33-34

Not only was the hill taking my joy away, it was distracting me from one of the primary reasons I ride my bike – to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. As I told you in my last lesson while riding, God speaks to me when I ride with Him. It is an amazing expression of His grace to join me on these rides. But that doesn’t happen when I take my mind’s eye off of Him in consideration of the future hill.

There is another pitfall that comes with thinking about the upcoming hills: The temptation to avoid them. Who would do that, right? That’s where you get the most exercise. Well, I can tell you from experience that it is human nature to avoid pain – to find a route around the challenges of our lives. The result: No growth, and the development of a timid spirit. Enjoy His presence, and you will avoid this debilitating temptation.

In conclusion, be encouraged that the time to think about the hills in our lives will come soon enough for each one of us. If you are on a hill now, then certainly think about it. Your Riding Partner will meet you in that moment; and He will teach you something in the challenge. In fact, there is much that we can learn from Him on the hills.

I will share some more in my next post. In the meantime, stay in the moment. Don’t let the future rob you of His pleasure.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob Streetman; President, inLight Consulting, Inc.

Archives

My Twitter Feed

Pages

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: