Be strong and courageous.
Never have 4 words been more important in the outcome of an event than these words spoken to me by my wife Ruth at the time of my departure for BC.
On June 28th, Ruth and I had said our goodbyes when she came back and said; “Be strong and courageous”. My first thought was; ‘Do you think I have been a wimp till now?’ I soon realized that God had placed those words on her heart for a reason. I actually wanted to write them on my bike handle bars, but never found a way to do it so they would hold up in the rain.
3.5 hours into the GWR, I crashed at a speed of 64km/hour. For a number of reasons I was going too fast into an 11% grade descent with a sharp left hand turn. In an instant I found myself with only two choices. Either hit a concrete barrier with a steep embankment behind it or lay the bike flat on the pavement and suffer the consequences of the contact with the pavement. I chose the latter.
To make matters even more serious, was the fact that my crash occurred in the blind spot of this curve. It is only by the protection of God’s angels that the vehicles coming around this blind corner managed to stop in time.
After my crew did an admirable job patching me up and stopping the bleeding, we waited for the ambulance to take me to the Chilliwack Hospital. As I sat there, pain came to life from each of the different wounds. I stopped counting after about 12 separate wounds, with the most painful being my left hand, something I would need continuously IF I were to continue.
Then out of seemingly nowhere, a thought came to me. ‘Now I have at least a dozen legitimate reasons to call this GWR attempt off. After this crash and the mess I am in, no one will blame me for abandoning my ride.’
Mentally and emotionally I was vulnerable. Satan knew it too. He swooped in to discourage me and validated the thought that it was not doable to continue in this state. As an FYI, over the years, as we have had more and more success being ambassadors for children rescued by MCF, I have also experienced more and more spiritual opposition. Since I am very human, this often comes in the form of personal discouragement and doubts.
Then these words came back. Be strong and courageous. Wow, that hit me hard. In light of what just happened, what does that mean? I was not able to speak with Ruth till after my 4 hour stay in emergency.
The doctors had given me the all clear. No sign of a concussion, no broken bones/ribs, no damage to my lungs. It was up to me/us. Would I be able to ride day and night for 6000 km for two weeks with all the injuries? Was I strong enough or even courageous enough to try after the crash? We waited till the next morning to decide. My wounds were external only, but my strength and courage had to come from within. Together, Ruth and I decided that if my crew was willing, we would start again 30 hours after the first start.
On our way to City Hall, Ruth called from Winnipeg to wish me well. She had watched an Andy Stanley sermon that morning. The take away point God placed on her heart to share with me was this, “Uncertainty is inevitable, fearful is optional”. As I approached the place where I crashed just 30 hours ago, I had total peace. We were on our way to Halifax.
It was not an easy ride. These events never are. As I left Quebec City around 2:00am after a two hour sleep in a Tim Horton’s parking lot, the wind had again turned against me. The road was brutal with diagonal cracks every few feet. We had reduced the air pressure in my tires, but the pounding on my feet, knees, bum and hands continued relentlessly. At times it slowed me to a crawl. There were huge light posts every few hundred meters on a soft boulevard of grass. More than once I slowed down and was ready to get off my bike to seek shelter from the wind behind the large light poles. My plan was to tell my support crew to give me my cozy blanket from the van. I just wanted to sit there and cry. I had no answer to the challenge before me, I did not know what to do.
Be strong and courageous.
Later that night the off-duty crew that also included Charles and IsaacMulli met us in the parking lot of the motel they had stayed at. CharlesMulli came to my side to encourage me as he always did. All I could do was give him a blank stare back. He meant well, but I had nothing to offer in return. I still feel bad about that.
Be strong and courageous.
By the grace of God, 15 days and 1 hour after we left Vancouver City Hall a second time, we reached Halifax, not in Guinness World Record time, but in God’s time. I could not ask for anything more.
I want to thank all of you who have followed our journey, encouraged me, and prayed for me and the crew. I could not do this alone.
Thank you Charles and Isaac for coming all the way from Kenya. Your participation connected the ride with the kids we are supporting in a very meaningful way.
A special thanks to my kids; Bernie & Jodi, Josh & Stephanie, Paul & Jeanette, our grandsons and especially Ruth. Without you, none of this would be possible. You are my rock.
The things we do for ourselves will be forgotten when we are gone.
The things we do for others, will live on. Grandpa Arvid