“To be called a refugee is the opposite of an insult;
it is a badge of strength, courage, and victory.”
~ Tennessee office of Refugees
A refugee is someone that has to take refuge in another area, environment, or region. It could be due to factors of war, political corruption, hunger, terrorism and the like.
Refugees, leave their dwelling place to find safe haven in unfamiliar regions. Where they have no job opportunities, they are marginalized and dismissed by the host country. They leave taking very little belongings, only what they carry. very little money, displaced away from families, carrying more insecurity with them than hope. Once arrived, there is the concern of shelter, food, and safety.
Ride 4 Refugee
Eight bicyclists from Kansas and North Carolina decided to take it upon themselves to experience a little of what it is like to be a refugee for a week. Ride4Refugee Riders packed only what they needed for a 5-day journey, a few pair of clothes, food for only when they could get it and travel for 20 or 30 miles every day. They slept where they could and were away from family and friends and familiar surroundings. They pedaled across 5 states (from Syria, Virginia to Lebanon, Kansas) some 1,865 miles. All with hope to reach a place where they would find safety and refuge from the long journey. (See https://ride4refugees.com/ for more info.)
The Ride 4 Refugee Journey:
R4R Team started at 1pm on the 13th of September. They were split into two teams of four each, with each person taking a 2 hour shift of riding. They experienced traffic and many hills (one guy lost his phone but was able to retrieve it). I, myself, lost my wallet and Eric forgot a gear bag at one of our transitions. We put on cold weather clothes as it was in the 50s. We planned to be in Kentucky today. The photographer, Adam had the hardest job with drone and camera equipment to help tell the story and get media posted.
Looks like we got hills all the way into Kentucky. We covered 240 miles, 1625 to go.
We pushed through 480 miles so far today. I had 10 mile of heavy Elevation coming out of VA. We hit top speeds of 43+ mph. going downhill into Kentucky. Team 2 took over at 1220pm one of the riders was bit by a dog and taken to the ER. The decision was made that he could not continue the ride, so it’s left to the 7 of us to finish the ride, each of us picking up more miles. This is the bad news – the good news was that our Social Media site had helped raise up to $109,000 today. I had the 2am shift and in the cold and dark. Tough night.
With one rider down, we each had to pick up more miles. Doug on team 2 did 40 miles in his segment. In got to Western Kentucky and the roads leveled out a little more. A great transition from the day before where we faced road closures because of the recent floods. We had also experienced 7 dog encounters and being chased.
Also in day 3, the heat in western Kentucky took a toll on Kendrick, causing us to stop for more water and stinger power gels. I got into 11 miles and had to stop due to overheating. Team 2 took over where I left off. Every time we transition rider to rider, we hand off a thumb drive containing 17,000+ refugee names that we pray for as we ride. There is a Psalm that I love, that says: “When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.” Proverbs 27:10. I meditate on this verse while I ride.
Adjusting to a floating rider rotation, I stayed back to ride with team 2 to be there first rider out at 330am, taking the team across the Mississippi River into Missouri where the weather shifted to cold. Being wet from sweat didn’t help the next 21 miles. We were in Missouri for the rest of this day and half in day 5. No one was looking forward to it as we were told that there were a lot of hills, which none of us favored. We learned from one of the other riders that we had received a donation from Chile because of our social media postings.
We entered eastern Kansas with gusting winds of 20 to 25 mph. This made the rides more difficult as we all were working against wind resistance competing for time and speed. Kansas goes for miles and miles of nothing but Prairie land. Yet beautiful scenery. Days were hot and windy, nights cool. We were all exhausted and seeking to find some extra energy and stamina. Thoughts while biking were mostly a few prayers, some chats with God about decisions in life and the refugees we serve.
We ended with a 20-mile final push and with the last 2 miles, I got a flat and road in with it. We all finished well; I topped the speed of 41.6 mph. There is a picture that someone took of me being prayed for and the sunset behind me. My favorite. Final morning, we took a 5-mile ride together to get pictures and pray.
Overall, we endured sleepless nights, long rides, wrong turns, over 10 episodes of dogs chasing us, no showers, sometimes no food, no bathrooms, no family or connection due to no cell tower signal; much of the same things refugees face. Yet we’ve raised over $117,748 for Heart for Lebanon and other refugees. I’m thankful to have been a part of it. Thank you for the prayers and support!
CHECK OUT THE POST-RIDE VIDEO!
Inspired by Psalm 27:10