Saturday, July 26, 2008

A brief stop at home

We're just outside of Toledo, OH tonight. We decided to get a hotel tonight to hide from the heat and humidity. We rode about 75 miles today with a strong wind at our backs most of the way. Around noon, Dylan broke a spoke on his rear wheel while we were 30 miles away from the nearest bike shop. When you break one spoke, it's only a matter of time before more of them start breaking and then you're really in trouble. Dylan decided to tough it out and try to make it to the next shop. So, we took off as much weight as possible from his rear wheel and divvied up his bags. He rode the 30 miles standing up in order to keep his weight off the wheel! So, it was a long afternoon for him, but he made it and the bike shop owner fixed everything for free (a fairly common trend in bike shops around the country).


Going into the trip, I knew that I would have a hard time being away from home. I knew that I would miss my family but I also knew that I would miss my house and my hometown.

We've been on the road now for 9 weeks and there have been plenty of times when I would kill for something familiar. We sleep in a different place each night. We eat at three new tables each day and ride new roads for 60 miles. There really is nothing familiar about each day and that's been an experience unlike anything I've ever really gone through. Normally, when I'm in a new place or situation, I can almost always know that soon things will go back to being routine and comfortable. But that's not true on this trip. The only things that are routine and familiar are my bike seat and my the 5 people around me.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to go home for 2 days. When I walked into the house I felt this intense joy at finally seeing something familiar. I guess I don't have much of a point here other than to thank my family and friends for making my time at home really enjoyable. It was great to just rest on a familiar couch near people who love me and were excited to have me around.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Worthington Cov./ Wounds in the Way

Worthington Covenant was one of the best churches and offered some of the best conversation for me yet! But I owe the group there an apology - especially the two gentlemen I had such a great conversation w/. I sat down at this table and for the millionth time remembered something. I was the lone black man (I say "man" even though I felt like a kid) biking through rural America and I was getting ready to have another conversation about justice w/a room full of white people. I sat down to eat at one of the tables and three of the biggest white men i'd ever seen sat with me. I have to confess that I entered into that conversation with a loaded gun. Naturally I brought a lot of my past attempts at conversations like this to this table - which was really a bit unfair to these guys i'll admit. I don't know what I thought was going to happen, but I was prepared for tactless, bigoted subtleties and not-so subtleties.

But something else happened. These men were honest, compassionate and exemplary people. They managed to slowly disarm my tense mind and we had a great conversation. I don't have the answer for what God did there, but I was very blessed in the end to have been there with them. I kind of hated having to go after that because I felt like I had just kicked back and relaxed with a couple of Uncles or something.

I, like most everybody else, tend to bring my past experiences to the present ones - both the good ones and the bad ones. I am reminded of a song that talks about right relationships made impossible by our attempts to navigate new experiences with old mindsets and wounds.

Wounds In The Way (Rachelle Ferrell)

She gives her body freely cause she can’t give herself completely 
There are wounds in the way 
She cannot bear to be naked to the world so instead she just fakes it with a man 
There are wounds in the way 

If they would have treated a little girl and a little boy when basically still just a baby 
With some respect and human dignity 
Maybe there wouldn’t be so many failed relationships 
We might even had a ghost of a chance of just loving each other - body, mind, and soul 

He gives his money freely cause he can’t give himself completely 
There are wounds in the way. 
He cannot bear to be honest with himself; so what the hell, he’ll lie to a woman 
There are wounds in the way 

If they would have treated a little boy and a little girl when basically still just a baby 
With some respect and human dignity 
Maybe there wouldn’t be so many failed relationships 
We might even had a ghost of a chance of just loving each other - body, mind, and soul 

As time passes by they begin to multiply 
There are wounds in the way 
Adding up secretly like the rings of an old oak tree 
There are wounds in the way 

Some old and some new, all stifling, debilitating and cruel 
There are wounds in the way 
And some are passed down from elder to youth - they don’t even belong to you 
There are wounds in the way 

As time passes through, they begin to accrue a strange sort of value 
Some that you think are worth holding onto 
Cause you don’t want to change who you are – no you don’t 

He loves her strong and true, but when he get’s angry it gets misconstrued into violence There are wounds . . . 
And she loves him equally, but when she feels misunderstood instead of sharing openly and honestly she is wounded. 

There are wounds in the way

Been Such A Long Time...

I would like to thank the kind community of Aurora's covenant church, who fed us and had a wonderful discussion w/ us. I especially appreciate Laurie and Mr and Mrs Seaman who urged me share my story w/ the women at the meeting. It was very uplifting and affirming to know that people were interested not just in the fact that I was biking for a good cause, but that I was someone w/ their own story. The details of my past play a huge role in why I am doing this.

I guess you get so used to people's eyes glazing over and people giving plastic answers and reactions, that when someone comes along and extends genuine love and kindness, you want to run or you're just confused. You forget that you can matter to a perfect stranger sometimes. "Been such a long time, I forgot that I was fine..."

And Again.......

It's a little bit of  a surprise, still, to know that i'm not 100% percent sure when i'm biking to next, where the next meal will be and when, to know that in the morning i'm going to put my sore behind back on that bike seat and peddle for another 5 to 6 hours. It might rain, thunder, or shine but i've got somewhere to be and people to see. It is sometimes overwhelming to try and blog or reflect on things during this trip because after biking all day, you just want everything to stop. You want to rest. But I guess the causes we're biking for can't wait.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

For those of you in the Chicagoland area, we're going to being hanging out at Libertyville Covenant Church on Monday night at 7 PM. We'd love to see some of you there! Directions

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A quick update

Hey everyone -

Thanks for continuing to watch our progress this summer! We're currently in Portage, WI, two days out from Milwaukee. From there, Matt's parents will pick us up and bring us to Grayslake, IL, a northern suburb of Chicago. We're looking forward to resting there on Sunday and Monday, as well as meeting with some members of the Libertyville Covenant Church.

Then, on Tuesday morning, we'll be taking the Lake Express ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegon, MI, and resuming our church visits and voyages with the covenant church there.

Also, thanks to our friends at the North Mankato Covenant church, we recently got some press coverage. You can check out the footage here.

Blessings to all of you!


ps. for those of you who are Batman fans, know that Marcus, Andrea and I will be attending the midnight showing of The Dark Knight! We are very excited. You can anticipate a movie review blog in the next couple of days...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Some old pictures and some newer ones...

It occurred to me that I hadn't posted any pictures of Colorado beauty. So, the first few are from our time there.

And the next shots are an assortment of pictures from all over.

Marcus praying the rain holds off in Nebraska.

It didn't hold off.

But it eventually got sunny again.


"Don't take pictures of me in the morning!"



Tonight we're staying in the Free Church in Tomah, Wisconsin. A regular pit stop on the drive from my home in Minneapolis to Chicago, it is strange to ride through on a bicycle. After a wonderful and relaxing weekend at home, visiting with many people whom I love and miss, Wisconsin has been a bittersweet part of the journey for me. I got to ride along Highway 35, which I did on my first bike trip, and revisit many adorably quaint towns. Now I've gotten bored with familiar landscapes, and frustrated by the temperamental weather we've encountered: thunder in the distance, rain falling from sunny skies, and headwinds. This weekend, I'll get to see some family in Milwaukee, and we'll visit Chicagoland, a welcome resting place for many of us!
Thanks for all your support, everyone! It was so good to see so many friends in Minneapolis this past weekend!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Minnesota! From North Mankato

I realized it's been a long time since I've blogged, so I figured I'd fill everyone in on what's going on.

This week has been very busy for us. We've visited churches in South Dakota and Minnesota every night this week since Monday. I'm glad to be in so-called "covenant country" because we get to meet so many new people and have conversations in far more churches that we could earlier in the trip. While it's been very rewarding, it's also been tiring. We've been biking around 60 miles a day consistently and still visiting churches in the evenings.

Biking into a new town and a new church every day is sometimes a bit overwhelming! There are new people, new situations, new injustices that are brought to our attention. There is so much to process about each visit and neighborhood - but very little time to do it. That being said, I've been learning so much from the people we meet and am so thankful for this opportunity.

The hospitality that we have received has been incredible - thank you to all of the people who have made time in their schedules and lives to help us along the way. I pray that you will all continue to provide to those in need, as you've challenged me to do.

More soon...


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Thank You

I'd like to thank everyone for your prayers and well-wishes while I recovered. I am back on the trip!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Luke Peterson, I Never Wanted a Blog

We're in Wausa Nebraska, staying at Matt's grandparent's house with half of his extended family. When we first crossed into Nebraska the state sign simply announced: "Nebraska. The Good Life," Nebraska's bold, confident proclamation has proven true, from the first mile and the Cactus Palace in Venango, to our current home in Wausa. Throughout the trip, and especially in Nebraska, I've been constantly surprised by the kindness of strangers. A few days ago we got caught in a storm, there was a bit of lightning and the high winds made the rain sting as it hit our skin, forcing us to seek shelter. Luckily a woman named Tracy invited us into her home where we watched Oprah, and talked about pianos, creative writing, metabolic rates, education, and comfrontations with chickens. She also gave us candy bars. We were living the good life, even if it was pouring.

Riding a bike for sixty miles a day leaves me with a lot of time to think, and it's been surprising what sort of thoughts can float through my head. Sometimes I plan things to think about in advance, and sometimes it's a surprise. Tomorrow I will be attempting to define "The Good Life." Talking to people from big cities, the subject of small towns with "nothing there" often comes up, and I have to admit that I too was dreading the desert and the plains. What I've found, however, is not a greater appreciation for Chicago and its vastness. As we travel through the plains, I've noticed that people have an interest in what we're doing, and why we're riding. Many of these people talk with us at length, in some cases buying us dinner, trading shirts, opening bike shops to give us supplies and repairs at no cost. And yet, in Chicago, a I don't seem to meet as many people, there isn't such a sense of community. I don't know the names of the people who live in the apartment across the hall.

I don't yet have an exact definition of "The Good Life," but I know that community and kindness to strangers are a part of that. What else makes life good? We have almost 2,000 more miles to find out.

Happy Fourth of July