I participated in my first bike ride this past Saturday: The Tour de Nash in the 30-mile division. We started at Vanderbilt and wound 30 miles through downtown and East Nashville, ending where we started. I’d never ridden more than 15 miles and that was over fairly flat terrain, so I knew this was going to be a challenge. But I wanted to try.

It was exciting to see all the bikes at the start and I saw others wearing the same “HCA bike team” shirt. They were riding with other groups or spouses so I went up to the start line alone.

I was amazed at how friendly strangers were for the entire three-hour ride. When I was walking my bike up a hill at the 20-mile mark, one lady said, “Are you okay? Do you need some water?”

“No, I’m fine! I just ran out of gears, but thanks! I have plenty of water.”

At mile marker 27 I pulled over and leaped off my bike to walk out the cramp I’d developed in my right knee. Two gentlemen pulled up beside me, “Are you okay? Are you going to make it? We only have a little over 2 miles left.”

“Yes, I’m okay. Just a cramp in my knee; I’m walking it out. Thank you.”

Previously, I’d ridden in my neighborhood, and when I got tired, I stopped. I could plan my ride and decide how far I’d go, without any help from anyone. But this 30-mile ride was different. I’d never ridden in hills before, and never ridden 30 miles. But my biking community encouraged me when I faced the hills and the torture of burning hamstrings. They wouldn’t let me quit, but offered to care for me when I encountered difficulties.

Just like my new bike community encourages my physical fitness, my church community encourages me when I face hills in my spiritual and emotional life. They are my constant companions who allow me to travel more miles and overcome more hills in my life than I ever thought possible.

My new biking community inspires my physical health. My church community inspires my spiritual and emotional health. I need both.



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