May was such a cool month, this whole “touring and being able to ride whenever I want to” thing ended with a record amount of cycling for me, 1474 miles in total! But I have to admit the very last day of May was a tough one.
We planned to make it to Hawesville, KY, which was 94 miles away but at 3:30 in the afternoon, we realized that I had miscalculated the miles and it was a total of 112 miles to Hawesville. Noah insisted that he could do it, but we had done our first 90+ day of the tour the prior day and I could sense that his muscles needed a rest. I didn’t doubt that he could do the full 112 miles, but they were over hilly terrain and I was afraid that it might end up being a slow crawl that would overtax our bodies and leave us sore for days.
It was the hardest thing to hold Noah back and say that we needed to find a different place to stay for the night. I felt so bad about my poor planning skills that I began bawling my eyes out. Noah was quite concerned over my emotional meltdown, but I tried to reassure him that I was okay, I just felt a lot of responsibility and I was feeling like I let him down. He was expecting to conquer another high mileage day, but now that hope was crushed. By me. (Yeah, it seems like a silly thing to cry over now, but in that moment, crying was the only logical thing to do.)
To make matters worse, the only place we could find to stay was in a town only 5 miles away that had no campground. I wasn’t looking forward to spending an extra $60 to stay in a hotel room that night. We were both discouraged, but we rode to the town and went to a grocery store to buy food for the night.
And that is when a lady walked up to us while we were in the fruit section and asked us about our bike trip. She had seen us in town earlier, while we were looking over our maps. (Just a reminder to you all-we never get lost, when we are stopped and looking at maps we are doing it for entertainment purposes only.) We chatted for a bit and found out she and her family had moved from Watertown, NY (25 miles from where we live) nine months ago. A few moments after our conversation she came back and offered to host us in her backyard that night.
We were two sweaty, smelly strangers but Jay and Amy welcomed us into their home like we were treasured guests. It just got better: Jay and Amy have two wonderful children, Ian and Linnea. As Linnea explained to me, “I am an outdoor girl and I love animals.” We hit it off just fine. She enjoyed looking at all the animal pictures I had taken on the trip, and I told her I would take more pictures. So Linnea, these pictures are for you!
Noah and I were also delighted to be around dogs again; Sam and Morgan were great to hang out with. Jay, who has served our country in Iraq and Afghanistan, pulled out a box of MRE’s for us to take to help out with meals.
That night as I lay in my tent, watching the fireflies flash in the trees next to me and the stars light up the sky above, I started to cry once again. This time though, my tears were falling not out of frustration or embarrassment but out of awe. God had taken the mistake I had made and turned it into something great. I felt so thankful for Jay and Amy and their willingness to show kindness to a couple of random cyclists.
I can be pretty tough on myself sometimes, but maybe it is okay if I mess up. I may have let Noah down but God will be never let us down. He can transform my failures no matter how big or trivial they are and use them for good.
The next morning I woke up feeling renergized and when we were leaving Amy and Linnea prayed with us for safety on the road. In my whole life I have never felt so loved by a family that we had just met the night before. And tonight I am writing this post from First Baptist Church in Sebree, KY, a church that offers wonderful hospitality to passing cyclists. We ate a home cooked meal provided by Bob and Violet with other cyclists who are also riding across the country. (They are cooler than us though, because they are riding all the way to the west coast!)
God is good. And so are the people He has placed in our path.