Bruised Mountain Desert Sandwiches – Ride:Well Tour

We rarely have Wi-Fi to post updates or play online, so when we find a coffee shop and some free time, we suck the ever-living cyber life out of them both. So, take a few (read: a lot) of minutes and ketchup with me on the road.

Understatements of the Century: Mountains are tall. Deserts are hot. Water is good.

Before arriving to San Diego, I had visions (read: nightmares) of being the last to finish, the slowest on the team, the one who holds up the whole trip and somehow actually takes clean water AWAY from African babies. OK, maybe not that bad, but you get the idea.

So, our first day of tour we took off excitedly from San Diego and headed for the hills. Mountains to be precise. After my THIRD fall and my SECOND weep fest, my sad sack of bruised bones took the van the rest of the way to our campsite.

Failure whispered sweet nothings in my ear and self-loathing stroked my hair.

The next few days we headed to the desert. I’m from the South, so I know hot. I live in hot and I actually kind of like it hot. But, hot doesn’t really translate what it feels like to ride a bike in the desert. I wish there was another word for how hot it is.

Just imagine…A blow dryer on high and an asphalt road covered in sandpaper had a baby. That baby would be a cuddly, white kitten named Snow Cheeks in comparison to the hellish desert.

Like I said…it’s hot.

The second day of trekking alongside the sand fields was magical. My legs lit up with a sexy heat rash, which surprisingly accented my mountain bruises quite nicely and I’m fairly certain I could’ve won some sort of beauty pagent after dry heaving in a cactus and plopping my spandex down on the first patch of mini shade I could fumble onto. I attempted to keep smiling, but my lips were so burned and wind-whipped that my Chapstick simply refused to come out to play.

And there I was again…last.

Just like I had feared, I had been last every day and worse than that, some days I couldn’t even finish the whole ride.

(Side Note: “Dear Donald Miller, Thanks for making outta shape non-cyclists everywhere think they can do something crazy like this. Love, Mandy’s Lungs”)

My teammates eat our rides for breakfast most days and some even ask for seconds. They’re amazing and I caught myself lingering on the outskirts of their cheers at the end of each day because I knew I hadn’t won the prize or set a score.

I was the filling in a bruised mountain desert sandwich.   (And it didn’t taste very good.)

But something happened one day while riding, I kicked my self-loathing in the teeth and with each peddle I knew that I was in the process of doing something I had never, ever done before. Instead of saying, “Man, I can’t believe I only rode (insert # less than the allotted miles here) miles today,” I looked at my mileage in the face and gave it a high five. Like the big, cheesy, get-a-running-start kind of high fives.

I mean, when have I ever cycled 85 miles in the desert before? When have I ever climbed mountains at crazy elevations and when was the last time I got banged up while adventuring? Never.

I’m succeeding because I’m DOING.

Day after day we push our bodies, minds and guts to do things we’ve never done before. Whether heaving up a mountain, eating hot sand for lunch or standing in front of a crowd telling people why we’re doing what we’re doing.

This tour is about so much more than finishing first, always being last or comparing who has the most amazing bruise. Which, by the way, is me. I’m fairly certain I saw David Beckham’s face in one.

It’s about PEOPLE who are our NEIGHBORS. And we get to do this for them…for God…and for ourselves. As Venture Expeditions puts it, “Benefit the World…Discover Your Soul.”

So, that’s what I’m doing.

What about you? When’s the last time you’ve gotten “banged up” for a cause, a mission or a dream?

P.S. “Dear Donald Miller, don’t listen to my lungs. I’m really happy I’m here. Love, Me”

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  1. Somehow I feel my teeny donation doesn’t quite match the pain you are going through for this…I am just going to have to buy you a house, or something…a house with a pool. That sounds good now…a cool pool. MANDY you are so incredible! Every painful muscle, bruise, sweat gland that is tired of sweating…YOU are making a difference and I am so proud to ride with you through this! Love you!!

  2. Mandy–you are amazing! Your blog is fabulous front-line writing from a radical cross-country adventure and has great lessons for all of us. We are immensely proud of you. Hang in there and keep riding!!!!

  3. You are amazing! I am so proud of you! You are going my hero! …side note: I really enjoyed doing VBS with your mom! She great!

  4. I love reading your blog!! You are a talented writer….. I can almost feel your pain and can definitely feel your determiniation! Hang in there!

  5. Mandy you are a Rock Star! Way cooler than Justin Bieber, or Fergie, or Ke$ha, or any of the other ones. You are an inspiration. You didn’t know what to expect and now you’re in the middle of it with an amazing perspective and perseverence. So proud of you. Thanks for the update.

  6. Praying for you everyday Mandy. Amazing what you can do when you stir that inner faith and rely on God to push you further than you think you can go.

  7. Mandy, We are all so proud of you for your desire to ride for this mission. This is the real reason, but also, you have shown us all that you have faced very tough situations, and God has “walked you through the fire”, and made you stronger. We all love you and miss you sooooo much!! Hurry home!!

  8. oh my gosh…this is some great writing here…this is the kind of writing that I want to seal up in a bottle…throw it into the ocean…and PRAY…that someone without hope finds it and reads it…really, really good heart ripped open stuff here…keep it comin’…

  9. Mind over matter… You are one of the most self motivated people I know and if anyone can do this without a doubt you can. The bruises will heal but the memory and self pride you take away from this will last forever.

  10. The sacrifices you have made and the challenge you have accepted relay hope to those of us that struggle. Not only are you riding this amazing journey to combat the HIV/AIDS and water crisis in Africa, but whether you realize it yet or not, you are riding for each of us. The hope that you seek to provide has already arrived and it has landed from the place in which you left, home. As you continue to experience this awesome undertaking, know that I am as proud and thankful for you whether on the bus cheering your team or leading the pack:) And side note, I would rather finish last day each day than to have been too scared to start in the first place. Love and praying for you.

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