By Chris Bernard
2012 Bicycle Adventurer
My name is Chris Bernard and I was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Currently I live in Lynchburg, Virginia where I attend Liberty University. I have been an avid long-distance ultra marathon runner for the past three years. I also enjoy mountain biking in my free time. Prior to this trip, I had ridden my road bike less than 100 miles. I felt the Lord calling me to try something new and to partner with The Fuller Center. Although cycling is still foreign to me I am having a blast and couldn’t be happier that I am on this trip!
This morning started out like any other morning. My alarm blurted out the same obnoxious tone that I dread hearing. It was 4:30 am and time to once again pack up my belongings and deflate my air mattress. For some reason, I was feeling abnormally tired and wanted nothing to do with getting out of my comfortable sleeping bag. Wendy was the first person I saw when I awoke, and she got quite a good laugh out of my loud yawn, and half-asleep scowl on my face. I’m glad that my sleepy stupor was good enough to make someone’s morning. The mood seemed a bit more solemn today as we all dreaded the longest ride day of the trip-105 miles. Although I appeared to be happy, my attitude inside stunk. Allen’s morning devotions talked about pressing on, and enduring through suffering. How appropriate for a day like we had ahead of ourselves. He also shared a few testimonies about how the Fuller Center has helped to change people’s lives. After hearing these stories, I quickly realized how selfish I really am. My roommates and I are scrambling to find a house to move into in 2 weeks, and procrastination is showing its ugly head. Since Lynchburg has five colleges, all apartments and most rental houses fill up in June. I should have been more on top of things earlier. Now, most of our options are houses that are either small or very outdated and rundown. I have been quite stressed and lost sleep over our dilemma. The many hours on our ride today really made me realize how blessed I am that I can afford a house, and that I have the opportunity to choose which one I want. So many people live in poverty and don’t even have a roof over their head. Who am I to whine about having to share a bedroom with one of my roommates or to complain because the kitchen is ugly? The Lord put it into perspective for me and put me in my proper place.
All of this brought to mind Luke 12:48 which says “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” The Lord has blessed me beyond compare, and it is my responsibility to use my gifts and talents to reach out to others. For the time being, my task is to complete this bike ride. I want to high-tail it to San Diego as I am so excited to participate in our build-day.
August 1st and 2nd are very special days for my family. Since I don’t have any aunts, uncles, or cousins, I am very close to my grandparents. Yesterday was my grandma’s birthday and today is my grandpa’s. I was sad that I could not be there to celebrate with them for the first time in 22 years. They have taught me so many life lessons and they both mean the world to me. Since I was in a fair amount of pain today, I couldn’t help but think back to their early years when they were enduring the Great Depression. As soon as I considered all of the hardships that they experienced back then, my physical pain seemed miniscule. Their lifestyle is a great testimony to how I want to live my life one day. Their selflessness and generosity are beyond description. I can only hope to be married 65 years and still be downhill skiing in Colorado when I am in my mid 80’s.
Today’s ride was perhaps over the most beautiful terrain that we have experienced yet. We started in Carmel, CA and rode down Highway One to Cambria, CA. Mountainous cliffs were surrounded by breathtaking views of the ocean, beaches, foliage, and rocks. The Big Sur coast of California is world-renown for its beauty and attracts thousands of tourists each year. I couldn’t help but think how blessed we truly are to be able to experience the true beauty of God’s creation while biking right through it. I reminisced family vacation memories from two years ago that took place on the same journey we were on today. This made me think of my family and offer up prayers for my sister who is serving as a missionary in Nepal, for my other sister who is moving to LA for school, and for my parents who are juggling work and the craziness of having three adventurous children.
Since this was by far my longest bike ride ever, I was unsure of how I would feel. Towards the beginning of our stretch along Highway One, I laughed at a yellow road sign which said “Hills and Curves next 63 miles”. I knew I had my work cut out for me. I enjoyed the company of my riding buddies, conversing and laughing along the way. As usual, I lived up to my newly-dubbed nickname of “close call Chris” as I nearly crashed into the guard rail, distracted by the beautiful scenery. My riding buddies Jason and Sue were tough both mentally and physically, and this motivated me to press on. Their energy was contagious and I needed it more than ever today. At mile 80, we were preparing to head down a long and steep descent. After stopping at the top for water before embarking, I led the pack out. However, I quickly realized that they were not in sight behind me. This was unusual as they are faster and more skilled at riding downhill than I am. I pressed on for another minute, only to realize that they were still not in sight. I stopped along the road to wait for them, but after two minutes they still had not appeared. As I was beginning to become mentally exhausted, I immediately thought the worst. I quickly turned around and started riding back up the cliff. Soon after, I thought I had spotted them on the cliff above me, so I began waving like a madman. As I approached the two figures I realized I had been waving and shouting at two small shrubs. Whoops, fail. I pressed on another three quarters of a mile to find them changing a tire and fixing a chain on a turnout. Whew! I was relieved that nothing had happened, considering we were on a particularly narrow stretch of the road.
As we were riding today, a dense fog hung over us for a good portion of the morning. At times it was distracting and annoying as we could see a mere 20 feet ahead at best. All of the beautiful ocean views were hidden completely. I couldn’t help but think of the analogy that the fog has to our Christian faith walk. The fog in our life represents sin that entangles us. When the sun comes out the fog disappears. The Lord is the light which removes our sin if we humbly accept Him as our Savior, confess, and turn from our sins. There is a way out of the fog and into the light. If we do this, we will one day spend eternity in Heaven with Him.
What I had anticipated would be the worst ride day turned out to be the best one yet. I finished the ride feeling better than when I had started. The Lord gave me strength as well as an attitude change which will be applied to several aspects of my life. I have been blessed beyond measure and for that I am so grateful. May I never take for granted the ability to be able to serve Him through endurance sports such as cycling.
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” –Isaiah 40:31