By Eric Hanson
That night we crashed at our campsite without ever starting a fire or doing anything else. We slept a good 12 hours before we got back on our bikes to begin our journey back to Phoenix. The next morning, we were woken by a bitter chill wind.
We unexcitedly prepared our bodies and our bikes for the next 60 miles of biking. No one was eager to get back to riding, as we all desperately wanted a day to rest. But the road called to us, and we found ourselves miles away from the canyon within a matter of hours. We all expected our road back home to be filled with many effortless miles cruising down hill with ease, but today the wind would not have it. We faced 20 to 30 mile an hour winds all day. We crawled away from the canyon at a frustratingly slow pace. Late that afternoon we arrived at our campsite just outside of Williams, AZ, high on the Colorado Plateau. We quickly had a fire blazing and food cooking. Even though we had such a difficult day, our spirits were high. We even celebrated by picking up some Fat Tire beer to bring relief to our weary bones.
We crawled through each mile as the wind seemingly got worse and worse. We inched our way into the valley between Williams and Prescott, where the wind was absolutely terrible. It was like trying to ride your bike directly into a tornado. Tumbleweeds flew by on the road and we were pelted in the face with blowing dirt and debris. I think I heard the Wicked Witch of the West cackling away. At one point I seriously considered hitching a ride with a man who saw us struggling along and felt compassion on us by offering us a lift. It was not even so much that I was too tired, but I actually feared I would be blown over and into traffic. The narrow shoulder along this stretch seemed like a death trap. At one point I was leaning 30 degrees over to the right side of my bike to avoid being pushed into traffic. I consulted with the other riders if we should hop on the truck to go the rest of the way. But something inside me knew we just had to keep going. I think God was saying, “I’ve got you. Just keep going.”
We made it to Prescott at last and pushed through the last few miserable miles to my friend’s house. Her and her husband were waiting for us to arrive and had prepared an amazing barbeque. We gorged that night on beef, showered for the first time in 7 days, and slept peacefully in the warmth of their house.
The sun rose high and showered us with its warmth, which felt good after the icy chill of the previous day. The miles here were flat but quick as we passed through a few more small towns that mark the outskirts of Phoenix. Before long, the sun was at our backs as the traffic of the big city picked up and the traffic lights signaled our journey was coming to a close. Relief that rest was coming soon was met with a sense of sadness that our adventure was coming to a close. The Safeway that was our staging point for our departure greeted us. The unsuspecting shoppers were clueless as to why a small group of cyclists were celebrating in the parking lot. We gave each other high fives, loaded up our gear and all crammed into the truck. We sleepily drove across Phoenix to make it back to my parent’s house where we were greeted with much joy, relief, good food, and great beer.
It was not always easy, in fact, it rarely was. But that is what made it an adventure. The painful miles of biking and hiking, the wind laughing at us, the bike problems, were all part of the adventure. I think a life following after God is often like that. It is usually the really difficult parts that were the most defining moments. The challenges are there for us to test our mettle, so that at the end, we have something refined by fire, which is hard to come by these days. I believe life is an adventure, and it should be lived as such.