Thursday, June 5, 2014

Are you ready for the ride?

Almost every July for the past 8 or so years, my dad has enjoyed the Seattle to Portland, or STP, bike ride. It is 202 miles from start to finish and there are over 10,000 bikers.

Every year my dad did a good job of prior proper planning so he could finish the ride as comfortable as possible. He saved up for a nice road bike, and bought everything that he would need- biker spandex, clip in shoes, water bottle holders, water bottles, a nice helmet, and the list goes on. On top of buying the right kind of gear, he biked everywhere. He biked to work during the week and went on longer training rides on Saturdays. He started training in January so that he would be physically prepared for the big ride in July.

My family always made a big event out of the STP. My dad would ride for two days straight and we would drive ahead of him to meet him at certain rest stops to cheer him on and give him water, Gatorade, cliff bars and GU packets. It became a family tradition to take my dad to the starting line at the University of Washington in Seattle, drive over to Chehalis after a few hours, which is a stopping point about 60 miles into the ride, meet him there, and then drive the rest of the way to Portland where we stayed the night in a hotel and spent our time swimming in the hotel pool or shopping. (My mom, my sister and I loved shopping in Oregon where there is no sales tax... the boys, not so much!) We always looked forward to the STP over summer vacation.

Dad after riding 200 miles

At about two or three o’clock on the second day of the bike ride, we usually met my dad at the finish line where he would jokingly say to me, "Hey Julie! I saw some girls riding who were about your age! You should ride with me next year!" I rolled my eyes and would respond, "Yeah right Daaaad!" This went on for a few years until I was 14. My dad had just come in across the finish line and gave me his invitation to ride with him the next year. To his surprise I said, "Sure! I'll do it!" And from that moment on, I was committed.

The summer after my sophomore year of high school, I completed the physically hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life! I wouldn't say that I totally conquered it, but I finished strong, riding in right behind my dad!

Dad usually took the lead... I love drafting off of him!

I wasn't able to finish the ride without the proper training first. My dad helped me prepare by helping me sign up, buy the right kind of gear and train whenever I had time. It took a lot of effort to get ready for the STP.

I didn't ride the Seattle to Portland again until after my freshman year of college at Brigham Young University. My dad bribed me into doing it with him by saying that he would pay for my registration.

This time around, I didn't train at all. I didn't have a bike with me while I was at school, so I didn't get in any long rides over the weekend. After school got out for the summer, I came home and chose to work and play almost every day. I didn't set aside any time to train on my bike. My dad frequently told me that I needed to train if I was going to finish the STP, and that if I didn't finish it, I'd have to pay him back for the registration. I didn't have money to spare, so I set my mind to riding it, regardless of how much time I'd spent preparing.  

Me and Dad at a gas station about 100 miles into the ride... it wasn't exactly the best time of my life...

 By the time I finished the STP this time around, I died. I literally felt like I was going to fall over and never get up again. My lungs felt like they were ripped raw inside-out and I couldn't walk right because I was so sore from riding on a teeny tiny bike seat for so long. I had no one to blame but myself. My dad warned me multiple times, but I didn't listen. I did not have the prior proper planning that was needed to finish strong.

We made it to the end! And somehow I found the energy to smile!

My experience riding the Seattle to Portland has taught me a very valuable lesson. Obviously, I felt the contrast from when I rode the first time to the second. Both times that I signed up for the STP, my dad was right there with me, helping me when I needed it and warning me against what would happen if I failed to train properly. What made the difference was my own personal commitment. The first time around, I sacrificed time and money in order to prepare for the huge task ahead of me. The second time, my actions (or lack of action really) showed that I didn't care and when it was time to ride the 200 miles, I was hatin’ it.

So since I'm a missionary and I think about the gospel of Jesus Christ literally all the time, this story has great applications. We know that life throws hard situations at us that might feel like we're riding 200 miles on a bike until we get to the end. But! If we have the proper prior planning as taught in the scriptures, "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30). We have to do our part. Just like my dad tried to help me and warn me of what would happen if I failed to prepare, we have a Father in Heaven who helps us along. He's given us a "training schedule", or commandments, to help us through life. We "train" every day by reading the scriptures and praying. We go to church every Sunday. We sustain, or support, church leaders. We live the gospel of Jesus Christ!! We can't afford to skip out on training, or we won't be prepared when it's time for our big ride of eternal life.

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