Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 15 - Las Cruces to Alamogordo, NM

Today was a 65.5 mile day. Temps were nice and moderate. Wind by the end of the day was quite severe, probably in the 20-30 mph range but from a southwesterly direction which helped us quite a bit. We left Las Cruces, which was the nicest town we've been in since Phoenix, and made our way to Alamogordo. The day was punctuated by a long gentle climb for about 10 miles followed by a more steep climb of about 3 miles. The summit was called San Augustin Pass and rose over 5700 feet above sea level. Once we hit the peak we had a wonderful and fast downhill for about 10 miles. I took the honors for having the highest speed on the descent - just a tick under 54 mph. It was exhilarating!! Most of our time after San Augustin Pass was spent riding through White Sands Missile Testing Grounds. See the pictures from day 15 to see how spectacular this geographic marvel is in the middle of nowhere.

My roommate for the weekend Sean remarked that this trip is kind of like a farewell tour for Coach. I am sure the experience is mixed for him as he visits some of the destinations and people he has established friendships with over the 16 or 17 previous trips on this route for perhaps the last time. Having spoken with him, I know he will not miss the tremendous responsibility and work it is to shepherd 30-60 riders each year since 1966 across America, not to mention contending with all the support vehicles and equipment that go along with each ride.

What is perhaps most impressive about this last coast to coast trip are the alumni riders who are traveling hundreds of miles to meet up with us and ride for a few days, just to honor Coach and show their appreciation for the ministry he has had in their lives. Gary showed up yesterday from Lansing to ride through the rest of NM to Dallas. A couple drove down from Denver to Las Cruces  yesterday to be a small part of the last trip. Fred, who has a home in NM and Upland, IN came in to ride for a few days. Others are scheduled to join us as we get further east and closer to their homes. There really is a strong sense of family among the riders and alumni of Wandering Wheels which is very impressive to me. All this to say that a coast to coast trip with Wheels is a life changing experience and Coach is at the center of it all. In a very unassuming but influential way Coach has ministered to thousands of people through the adventure of distance cycling. As he approaches his 78th year of full living, his life exemplifies what I believe God wants from all of us - a life that that touches people through genuine and humble living. Coach will probably tell you he hasn't always done it perfectly or even right some of the time, but if I ever have a chance for my own farewell tour, I would hope that there are people who would show up because I had some impact in their life for good and for eternity.

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