Devils Tower: Finished
August 6, 2022
A few days ago, Janet and I rode up to Mt. Rushmore. The ride out of Rapid City was a climb. There were a few breaks along the way, but most of the 38 miles were climbing. Mt. Rushmore is at about 5,150 feet above sea level. Overall, we climbed 4,150 feet that day. The final two miles up to the National Monument is at a 10% grade. By the time we reached the visitor center, we were tired. We were blessed, bicyclists get in free.
Upon arrival, people came up and congratulated us. “We passed you on the way up, you’re amazing.” “Wow, that isn’t something I could do.” “Incredible.” Some people even wanted a picture with us, or a picture to send to their bike club. Even though we had already biked over 2,000 miles, here we received some praise.
Yet, the joy we had was not from the people. It was from reaching our goal. For the past seven weeks, our goal was to reach Mt. Rushmore. When someone in Virginia, Maryland or Ohio asked, “where are you biking to,” we responded, “Mt. Rushmore.” Now, we stood at that spot. Standing, enjoying the view of the monument representing four great leaders in American history. Though tired, we were on top of the world. A goal was accomplished.
We biked down that steep hill and road along a quiet road another 10 miles to Hill City, where Jess met us at the hotel. The next day, we road on a Rails to Trails path to Deadwood and then to Spearfish. Fortunately, Jess was carrying our gear. On the path, we road to 6,150 feet in elevation. After Deadwood, we took a back road that had four-mile stretch that was 6-7% grade. That came after 50 miles of biking in 95°. When we got to the top of both hills, there was no crowds. Nobody noticed our accomplishments. We were in the mountains, experiencing God’s wonderful wilderness. Along the way, we had come across three mountain lions and other wildlife, but few people.
Yesterday, we finished our cycling across America as we biked another hill with 7% grade into Hulett, Wyoming. As we crested the top of the hill, we saw Devils Tower. The hotel came before the landmark, but our ride was over. After checking into the hotel, we went for a celebratory lunch then drove to see Devils Tower. As evening came, I sat in the hotel room and packed the tandem back into the two travel boxes. Over the seven weeks, we had biked 44 days and 2,424 miles. We had reached our goal.
All too often, we reach a goal and expect some recognition. And sometimes we do: high school and college graduations, wedding, new job, retirement. At key moments in life, our friends and family congratulate us. We get a small sense of pride. Yet, the more meaningful, personal goals, we accomplish without much recognition.
Over the course of the last seven weeks, Janet and I have been reading a couple of books. One of them had an exercise to simply recite Psalm 23 throughout the day. As I was biking, we would recite the Psalm. During those long hill climbs, the words, “Even though I walk the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil.” At moments it felt dark, I knew I need not fear. God’s staff is there to comfort us.
As I biked across America, I focused on the words: green pastures, quiet waters, right paths. Whether it was high mountain meadows, or fields of corn, we saw green pastures. We often rode along the right paths that were beside quiet waters. God was at work making the waters in my life quiet as well. Along the way, we had GPS guides making sure we were on right paths. My devotional time each morning helped me on the right paths with God.
One day, Janet commented on the words in the middle of Psalm 23: “For you are with me.” In the middle of the Psalm, we are reminded that God is with us. Whether we are dealing with struggles, celebrating accomplishments, experiencing God’s creation, God is with us. In the end, it is not praise we need from other people. The only praise we need from God is “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” It is to know that God is with us, and we are to turn our praise toward Him. “To God be the glory, great things He has done.”