Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Threatening Gospel

I stumbled across this great quote earlier in the week. Nelson Mandela used part of it in his inaugural address, though it was originally by Marianne Williams:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

Then, today I read this from Tim Keller's The Reason for God. He was talking to a woman at his church who explained why she was threatened by the Gospel message of Grace:
If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with "rights"-- I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by sheer grace-- then there's nothing that he cannot ask of me.
We are immensely powerful and God can ask us to do anything. No wonder the Gospel is so frightening-- it's simply much more comfortable be inadequate.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Monkey in Iowa

This post is simply a photo journal of Baron and his tag along adventures in Iowa:

Baron taking ride
The ride
Cactus Jess
Baron and Corn
Lunch in a Greenhouse
Amy and Baron
Baron and Einstein
Guarding the barrel
Baron in Churdan
Don't Jump
Bella and Barn
Baron likes wine
Jessie and Baron
Wrestling Champs
Mr Pork Chop!
Baron makes friends
Jessie, Baron and Friend
Tender Tom's
West Amana
Baron and Friend
The Hyvee guy

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Since I'm such a fan of bulleted lists, here are my thoughts, observations and likes of a week across Iowa on bikes with friends:
  • Who'd guessed that Credit Island in Davenport would be so dramatic? High heat, humidity and bug factor. Then awakened from our tents to police telling us that a severe storm with 60 MPH winds is coming and we could evacuate to a shelter in town. We didn't. We moved under a picnic shelter.
  • Next night, in Glenwood, we were evacuated into the high school to hide from another severe storm.
  • No more storms the rest of the week (I consider that lucky-- I hate riding in rain).
  • Oldest Rider: 80s. Youngest: still in diapers being pulled by mom in a trailer.
  • Number of dogs doing ride: at least 2 that I saw.
  • Never knew how many different bikes there were: recumbents, trikes, tandems, three seaters, trailers being pulled, unicycles, penny farthings, roller blader, skaterboarder, hand trikes, elliptical bike, beach cruisers, mountain bikes, 30 year old bikes, new bikes and everything in between.
  • People would just lean $6,000 bikes against a building or tree without locking them and sleep or go inside. I thought that was cool.
  • I liked the guys who had good music playing from their bikes or trailers.
  • Things you had to find in every town: a place to lean bike, shade, what kind of pie being served and a bathroom for the girls.
  • If you like pie, do RAGBRAI. I count at least 10 different pies I tried.
  • If you like food on a stick, do RAGBRAI. Examples- I had eggs, beef, chicken, ice cream, corn and probably some other stuff-- all on a stick.
  • Elk Horn, Iowa on Day 2 was a fun town. Kimballton too.
  • I liked seeing all the people in their yards watching, waving, spraying you with water.
  • Towns were so creative and welcoming--- pep bands, cheerleaders, dancers, mermaids and such as you entered towns.
  • There were lots of homes that if the owners weren't outside, they left chairs and shade for you to enjoy.
  • Great meal at the Church of Christ in Carroll. Nice service too.
  • One of the best part of my day: coffee at Benji's, sitting on the mats and watching the riders go by. It was a good reflective time.
  • Some people took the ride (and themselves) too seriously. No one in my group though, we would have booted them.
  • Enjoyed passing people who were on their expensive carbon racing bikes.
  • Enjoyed even more some of the WTF looks I got from those same guys as I passed on my steel touring bike with rack, pannier and monkey attached.
  • Did not like not being able to keep up with some of the fast pacelines.
  • Liked sharing the paceline with the two girls from the Hawks Triathlon Club. Took all I had to stay with them.
  • Liked that Steve told the boys to raise the price on their 50 cent Gatorade.
  • Did not like the number of times I saw the spelling "Gaterade".
  • Twister Hill was a fun challenge-- I also liked hitting 43 MPH on the downhill.
  • Free Chocolate Milk!
  • The best Busch Lite ever.
  • Wine-arita!
  • Bloody Mary at 9:00 AM.
  • The kid selling water in camp in Carroll is going to be a good businessman.
  • Sleeping in air conditioning on the hottest night (Altoona). Meeting Steve was cool too.
  • Leo, our tour guide on the Boone train was the highlight of the train ride.
  • Kate is a great tour guide.
  • Amy always finds a spot to camp.
  • I could always recognize Jessie's biking cadence.
  • We almost taught Kate to ride standing.
  • Another great part of my day: getting my face dirty eating watermelon.
  • Ice Cream was always fabulous, even the half melted one I bought from the cross country team in West Amana.
  • I miss peeing in corn fields.
  • I am over heat rash.
  • I enjoyed practicing my slow riding and track stands as I tried to maneuver through towns.
  • I hope to never see Loin Cloth man again.
  • Iowa is much dewier than North Carolina.
  • Iowa grows more hogs than North Carolina.
  • High Fives and free shirt coming into Boone was nice.
  • The closest I've ever felt to an Olympic champion was the faux arch, painted field on the road and bleachers filled with people yelling for you as you finished in Coralville.
  • The guys who wrenched on broken bikes all week were saints to put up with some of the ungrateful riders.
  • Iowa Highway patrol did a wonderful job controlling traffic in the heat. And they played music for us too! Amy liked Lady Gaga.
  • I cannot imagine all the planning that goes into putting this event on. I've hosted wrestling and track meets at the regional level so I know a bit about putting on large events. This scares me.
I'll probably think of more. As you can see, there were few negatives for me. I had a great ride, great friends, no injuries or bike issues so other than the heat rash I can't really complain.

Ride across Iowa

Last week, some friends and I made the dash across Iowa on our bikes as part of RAGBRAI XXXIX. It was challenging, entertaining, enlightening and unforgettable. The riding was easy. Seriously. The heat and sun were challenges and getting to the host towns and trying to find your bag to set up camp were the hardest parts for me.
Team Heang and Chicks!
Go Hawks

Iowa is a great setting for an event like this. The people are so accommodating and every community pulled out the stops to host over 10,000 bikers. Including support crew and vendors, some overnight towns welcomed nearly 20,000 people to their homes, schools, parks and other public places. Our overnight towns ranged in size from 6,000 people to 17,000-- so welcoming all these guests was a logistical terror. But I felt like they did their best. And then there were the towns we passed through during the daily routes. Some counted their population in mere hundreds, yet they did so much within their limited resources to host thousands of hungry, thirsty, tired and sometimes cranky riders. For just one day. Then they went back to being Griswold, population 940.
Bike Ferris Wheel

I would definitely do the ride again. The rest of the team (outside Steve and Baron), I'm not so sure. I think they'd do it again with some stipulations: fully supported (preferably an air conditioned RV), more sunscreen, perhaps 2 way radios and something garnishings our helmets. It was definitely a treat to see so many different walks of people with different styles and levels of equipment and ability all participating in this event.

And the kindness. The people I met were for the most part unequivocally kind-- whether it was a fellow rider, a new friend in camp, a vendor or a local and their water/pie/melon stand. Everyone was genuinely kind and grateful. That's the other thing, the people of the communities were grateful for our presence. Sure, they profited off the riders, but I felt a gratefulness that we were visiting them in their towns. They were small towns with little other than a Main Street, water tower, grain elevator, bar/restaurant, post office and sometimes a school and/or bank but the residents were extremely proud of their homes. That, I can respect.
Supported the wrestlers