A first retrospective

The discussion about wrapping up the tour began in earnest on Monday of the final week. At that time it seemed so early to be thinking about finishing things off. I just was recovering ability to shift gears with the correct hand as I recovered somewhat from the bike crash earlier on. While it seemed early to start thinking like that it wasn’t too early at all and now that I’m “off the tour” and won’t wake up tomorrow to a full day of bike riding I’m so grateful that we began that discussion as early as we did. The end was a highlight rather than a downer. When we were camped at Samson State Park (Wednesday Evening) our small group discussed what we’d be taking from the tour. While we did a bit of discussion around the theme the question we were really answering wasn’t “what have you learned” but rather “what did you learn that you’re going to actually remember”. The difference is huge. After spending 9 weeks on the road out of normal routines, normal activities, normal circles of friends, normal sleeping schedules and normal diets… I’ve learned an outrageous amount of stuff.

To start listing all of the little things that I’ve gleaned from this experience is a waste of my time typing and a waste of your time reading. The wealth of experience that the past nine weeks gave to me is very valuable but not all of it really counts. Some of the things I learned while on the trip aren’t particularly valuable back at home even though they were valuable while out on the road.

Back to last Wednesday… our basic conclusion was that it’s going to take a couple weeks and likely a couple months before we can look back on the tour as a whole and identify exactly what it meant for my life.

  • What I learned about living in Christian community
  • What I learned about dealing with physical challenges (huge passes in the mountains)
  • What I learned about perseverance towards a personal goal (riding in excess of 1000 kms in 6 days)
  • What I learned about being a voice for poverty while existing far from it
  • What I learned about perseverance in the face of tough times (shoulder trouble)
  • What I learned about deferring the glory of my accomplishment to one who is greater than me
  • What I learned about “doing” fundraising
  • What I learned about inspiring others and encouragement (cyclists on the tour as well as meeting people and having them suggest they’re encouraged to respond)
  • What I learned about personal relationships as friendships grew quickly within 9 weeks
  • What I learned about integrating new people into a community (60 new riders in Grand Rapids)
  • What I learned about saying goodbye
  • What I learned about taking one day at a time (dérailleur trouble)
  • What I learned about God’s faithfulness to me through a tough week in Nebraska (death of a Grandmother)
  • What I learned about bringing a great chapter in my life to a close (this one is just beginning now)

I’ve written now and again about things that I feel like I’ve really had the chance to grab hold of this summer and I feel like really only a few of these thoughts are fully forming at this point. At this point in time I feel like I can really only give those brief glimpses as to how I’ve personally benefited from the trip. I realize that I basically just said what I feel like I’ve learned about and not even what I exactly learned about it. I just haven’t had enough time yet to process many of those thoughts but do hope to do so and will likely write here in the future some reflections as they become more fleshed out. Or in the world of Len Reimersma, when I’ve got three points about each one.

One other video that’s worth showing though displays the state of my front rim after the bike crash. While it’s mostly funny (the movie that is), that crash really did affect the way this summer wrapped up for me. As I believe I’ve alluded to; even though the crash was lousy it wasn’t all bad.

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