By Alvin Haney
One of the apprehensions I had about this great adventure was that we were not to wear headphones while cycling. In preparation for this ride, I always wore headphones. I would go on club rides and 90% of the time I was listening to the Runkeeper app as it told me my current speed, pace, avg. speed, time on the road etc. When riding alone, however I would listen to music 98% of the time and Runkeeper would report my stats every 10 minutes or 10 miles. So how was I gonna ride for 6 tough days in a row without the beats and rhymes to help propel me forward and distract me from the pain?
On Day 1 (Monday July 22) about 10 miles from our destination, John and I were rolling by a ladies house and saw her wave at us. From my perspective she was sitting on the ground, gardening, and waving to all the bikes passing by. I yelled to her "Did you see the other riders go by" and she replied in the faintest of voices, with traffic passing by, "help me". I wasn’t really listening for a verbal reply but just a nod of the head, instead I had to think about what she said and really hear her. As I played it back in my mind, it sounded like "help". Thankfully John had already processed her distress and turned around to see what was wrong. She indeed did need help and had been sitting in her driveway for around 30 minutes trying to get help, as people just passed by and waved. We were able to assist her, call for backup and she recieved the proper medical attention.
What if I had on my headphones? Would I have even seen her? Or would I have been too engrossed in listening to the music to notice? I certainly wouldn’t have heard her faint cries for help and would have just waved and kept pedaling. I learned that day that listening was very important on this adventure. To just quiet your mouth, and your soul and take in your surroundings. Whether it be cries for help, the cheers of passerbys, an approaching dog or huge farm tractor, take notice of these things not only for your safety but as part of seeing and HEARING all the things that God has put in front of you.
Since Day 1, I have heard, the sound of the wind as it slows your progress and makes you work twice as hard to get to your destination. I have heard the sound of gears changing as the paceline hits a downhill and speeds up. The sound of other riders as they share their stories with me. Car horns, truck horns, pothole on the left, right turn, good pull, mooing cows, whinnying horses, neahing goats, teammates devotionals, air mattresses being inflated and deflated, hawks screeching and more…. All when you quiet the things you can control and listen.