Mile 0

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Every journey, they say, begins with a single step — or in this case some serious training about how to ride and how to build a community with a group of 13 other people.

I thought at first that this whole adventure was just a ride from Minneapolis to Chicago. I’m finding out really quickly that it is much, much more than that.

Sure, a part of these first days is some important training we will need one our ride but another, more important aspect of these first two days is building a community of people who are passionate about doing something, in some small way to restore this world back to the way that God intended it to be. It’s called justice.

We spent some time last night and today looking at Isa 5:8 which, to me,
is a clear promise that if we care about justice and using our resources to help those who are victims of injustice that our life will be different.

Isa 5:8: and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

The expectation of Venture Expeditions is that this ride is not a one time event but is actually a first step in adjusting to a more “justice centered” existence — something that continues along after the we cross the 500 mile mark.

In talking with some of the group that has been on other rides it became obvious that this experience is also meant to touch people we meet along the way in the gas stations and 7-11s and at the churches that have so graciously offered to host us each night. It is meant to explain to them what God means by justice and that justice is, indeed something to be done not just read about of thought about.

But, fear not… the first day is not all serious study. We had a great training ride around the city and along the river along with time out for some group pictures.


It’s nice to see that Minneapolis is a city that has seriously invested in their cycling infrastructure. Not only are there lots of bike only trails and lanes but there are a lot of people who use them. Saturday morning on our training ride the trails were crowded with all ages and types of cyclists. As a proponent of biking, I have no doubt that Madison has a true cycling rival in Minneapolis.

T Minus One

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Anyone who watched the Apollo launches will remember the phrase “T Minus”. It was used along with a number that indicated the number of minutes / seconds until the Saturn V Rocket along with the Apollo capsule perched on top started it’s long, slow climb to space.

Today, I’m at T Minus One. One day to go. If I am not prepared now…. well, I’ll never be prepared for next week’s adventure ride from Minneapolis to Chicago with 13 other people who I have not yet met.

A countdown is a sequence of backward counting to indicate the time remaining before an event is scheduled to occur. NASA commonly employs the term “T-minus” during the preparation for and anticipation of a rocket launch, and even “E-minus” for events that involve spacecraft that are already in space, where the “T” could stand for “Test” or “Time”, and the “E” stands for “Encounter”, as with a comet or some other space object.

Other events for which countdowns are commonly used include the detonation of an explosive, the start of a race, the start of the New Year, or any anxiously anticipated event. An early use of a countdown once signaled the start of a Cambridge University rowing race.

The first known association with rockets was in the 1929 German science fiction movie Die Frau im Mond (English: Woman in the Moon) written by Thea von Harbou and directed by Fritz Lang in an attempt to increase the drama of the launch sequence of the story’s lunar-bound rocket.(Wikipedia)

I only know most of the rest of the team  I am spending the next week with through Facebook posts and short emails so I am looking forward to putting a real face to their “Facebook face” and finding out their stories. Many are from the Minneapolis area, some are from Texas and a few are from California. One is a teacher, one is a photographer and one is a Pastor and some are students. What I do know is that we have one thing in common — a desire to be involved in some way in the work that Venture Expeditions is doing in Chiang Mai Thailand with refugees and local residents. (More information is here and here).

The Old Sauk Double Climb

The first of the two hills that make up the “Old Sauk Double Climb”. Believe me, this picture does it no justice at all!

So, T-Minus-One. I waved good bye (at least for a while) to the “Old Sauk Double Climb” — the twin pair of hills that tormented me on every ride to work and the “Third Sister” climb further down the road. (By the way… those of  you who think that the Midwest is flat are horribly wrong.)

I also stuffed five days worth of clothes, a sleeping bag, a pillow and other miscellaneous items that I probably won’t use, into a Rubbermaid tub and filled a backpack with “mega protein this” and “mega protein that” bars and powder. One thing for sure… I’m not going to be undernourished!

The bike is also ready. I decided to bring “Banana” as my trusty steed this trip. Banana is my GT ZR 3.0 road bike dressed in the the yellow, black and red paint job. She has been with me on my longer training rides this spring and summer. I purchased Banana almost 7 years ago in Manchester Vermont and she has served me well in VT, in WI and on my climb up Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts last year. No doubt she’ll be perfect for this adventure too. (Brownie, my Raleigh Clubman, gets a week off as my commuting buddy while I am gone while Dumpy, my trusty town bike rescued from a landfill in Vermont, also gets the week off.)

I want to thank everyone who has financially supported and prayerfully supported this Venture Expeditions project so far. It’s a great thing when we can release resources that we have been blessed with to help others in the world where justice needs to be done. My job now is to stay healthy, enjoy God’s creation as I ride and make sure that the people we meet along the way can understand the importance of and the commitment that we have all made to these projects.

By the way, I am taking just enough electronic stuff so that I can pass along some pictures and writings of the experiences. We’ll see how it all goes as I record some of what I see and the people I meet.

Thanks again, all of you, for the encouragement, suggestions, advice, financial support and friendship as I worked up to the launch. I leave for Minneapolis tomorrow and we are all on the road beginning bright and early Sunday morning. Chicago… here we come!






Close To The Street

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Long ago, in my senior year of High School, I took an elective class with the somewhat meaningful name of L.E.A.P. Taught by a somewhat radical (for the time) teacher, the acronym was a perfect fit not only for the teacher but also for the purpose of the class itself. LEAP stood for “Learning and Education through Active Participation”.

The whole purpose of the class was to move the classroom… well out of the classroom and into the city where we lived. One of the basic philosophies that the class centered around was that the structure of the city itself, built around the car and freeways, prevented you from really learning about the city, its places and the people who live there. A significant part of the class involved getting us off the California Read the rest of this entry »

On What I Learned About Long Distance Biking

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There are very few absolutes in this world, so in the interest of sharing wisdom, here are a few things that I have learned while doing long distance training:

    Badger State Trail

    Badger State Trail

  1. Every hill has a top and eventually, every hill has a downhill. This is true even in the event that someone, someday climbs Mt. Everest on a road bike. (Believe me… it will happen!)
  2. Some days it’s going to rain, some days it’s going to be hot and some days it’s going to be cold. Remember, there is no such thing as bad weather …. only bad clothes. This holds true not just for cycling but also for hiking and for enduring the long (long) Midwest winters.
  3. While riding, the “music of the spheres” * always trumps the “music of my iPod”.
  4. Long distance touring is very different than (and is not) a race. The goal of long distance touring is to get from here to there with peace and enjoyment. The goal is NOT to get here to there as fast as you can. Slow down and enjoy the experience.
  5. Flats happen. (Need I say more?) It’s all part of the experience. Smile and go on!
  6. Every ride….. is a good ride!


This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father’s world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world:
he shines in all that’s fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.
This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

Text: Maltbie D. Babcock
Music: Trad. English melody; adapt. by Franklin L. Sheppard

More Resources

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A Collection of Articles about the Myanmar/Burma Conflict:

Myanmar Poor Go Without Care After Ban on Doctor Group – NY Times March 2014

Myanmar’s Rich Biodiversity Hangs in the Balance – Bloomberg Business Week – March 2014

Great News … In Balance

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So What Shall We Say Then…. Shall We Keep On Sinning So That Grace May Increase? Romans 6:1

The Gospel is great news. Period. Regardless if you believe that — or not — the Gospel is probably the one set of facts in history that has had the most  lasting and profound impact on humanity for over 2000 years. It has done more to shape how the human race sees the universe than any other truth ever has.

At the core of this good news (Gospel) is grace – a concept that has been applied to us by God so that we have the opportunity to have a relationship with God our creator even though we, in ourselves, Read the rest of this entry »

Design and Concepts and Consuming

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I recently finished the annual Fast Company “Design” issue that is published about this time each year. With the ever present Jony Ives gracing the front cover, it was obvious that this issue was going to have something to say about Apple and their philosophy of design. (Spoiler alert — the Apple design process is so secret that the only sources that Fast Company could rely on for the article were people who used to work at Apple and could legally say something about the Apple design process).

What I expected and what I got from these articles were two completely different things. Read the rest of this entry »

Turning It Down

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In America, we’re not used to living smaller. And it’s no wonder given that we live in the land of “super-size it”, SUVs and “bigger is better”. It’s the way I and my fellow Baby Boomers were raised and to us, it’s as natural as breathing.

hummer-h2Recently though, there are a lot of us Boomers (and Post-Boomers) who are thinking that maybe we’ve taken this “more is better” thing a bit too far. We’re realizing that there is a price to pay for all this growth – a price to the environment and our community and a price to our sanity.

My wife and I realized this about 7 years ago when work (or a sudden lack thereof) circumstances and financial circumstances forced us to consider how much we had and how to get by with less. Before our downsizing, we were happily rattling around on two acres of land (most of which needed to be mowed each week)
and living in a 3800 square foot house with two late model cars and lots (and lots) of stuff that we had accumulated over our 12 years of marriage.

Read The Rest …

What Happened To All The Other iPhones?

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iphone_4Apple issued this statement today about the pre-orders of the iPhone:

Yesterday Apple and its carrier partners took pre-orders for more than 600,000 of Apple’s new iPhone 4. It was the largest number of pre-orders Apple has ever taken in a single day and was far higher than we anticipated, resulting in many order and approval system malfunctions,” the company said.

Congratulations, I say, that someone is listening to the consumer enough so that they are building products with a huge amount of initial demand. I applaud Apple for creativity and good marketing, outstanding design and superior engineering. (Oh … and how many other CEOs can you name that get a standing ovation when they walk on stage? Steve Jobs is as much of an icon and loved as much as the iPhone is).

But, on the other hand…. Read the rest of this entry »

Night Time Bicycle

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bikelane-nightHow many riders subscribe to the unwritten rule “when the sun goes down, the bicycle goes away”.

I did — until recently.

I became a night-time biker a few months ago when I started teaching a class that ended at 8:30pm. After class, it was ride home as the only option.

The ride from school to home turned into an absolute pleasure. First, there is almost no traffic at 8:30pm and second, the absolute peace as you quietly glide through neighborhoods and dark streets is amazing. The first night, the moon was full, the lake I ride around was perfectly calm and it was just cold enough for a light jacket.

The perfect end to any day.

My only other experience with nighttime rides was when we were living in Vermont. We were on our way home in a car, it was the end of summer, there was a full moon and we were just starting up Terrible Mountain (no kidding … that’s what it’s called and if you have ever biked it, you know why).

Far ahead of us, we saw a pair of blinking red tail lights and as we got closer, the lights turned into two cyclists out for a long nighttime climb. At the time we saw them, I thought they were nuts. But now I understand. There’s an appeal to a quiet nighttime ride.

I am not sure that my rides will ever match a full moon climb up Terrible Mountain, but I’ll take a calm city commute at night as a good substitute!

Haven’t tried an after sundown ride yet? I really suggest that you do.

After all…. every ride is a good ride!


photo credit: