Most recently is the diagnosis given to Benny Bohanon after over a period of a week he went from riding his bike 50 miles to unable to stand to now unable to walk. Benny has ridden countless miles with and without me. He is always invited on any trip we take because Benny is great fun. Always smiling and willing to sacrifice for anybody, Benny is a true friend.
Two weeks ago he was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. An unbelievable and totally unexpected event in any one's life but even more so given Benny's love for cycling. I've received many updates from him about the doctors predictions and his own take on them but none made me more proud than this update on January 25th, 2013.
As many of you may know, I am off the bike for now, I was diagnosed with MS, the day after New Years, and am spending my time in a wheelchair these days. Dr. says it is temporary, and I will be probably be back on the bike this summer. I can’t wait. Right now my legs are useless, my calf muscles that I was so proud of are just loose skin.
I know God has a plan for me in all this, and it has to be patience, and learning to go on his schedule, not mine.
Then last night I was praying. I had this long prayer about everything I wanted God to do for me by Monday, then by two weeks, then by a month, then 6 months. Then it hit me, I was doing the same thing to God that I do to everyone else around me. Giving orders, then expecting it to all get done by a certain time. I had to stop and ask for forgiveness for my demands.
Then I immediately started thinking about some of my bike rides. We rode to the top of some of the biggest mountains in the Southeast, including Hogpen Gap, Brasstown Bald, and Mount Mitchell in North Carolina. Mount Mitchell was the biggest, with 20 miles of uphill grade to the top, and only a couple of short descents to rest. Whenever I was on a really big climb, I would count my pedal strokes, 1, 2, 3, all the way to 100, then start again. Many times I would count over 1000, I remember counting over 3000 pedal strokes once. The guys would laugh at me, when they would be talking and I would tell them they were messing up my count. See what I was doing... I was taking those big mountains one pedal stroke, one Step, at a time. It was like God showed me that, right after my prayer.
So that’s what I am going to learn from all this, and more things too, patience, perseverance, learning to depend on others around me, and learning to go one step at a time. We’ll just have to wait and see how long its going to take to get over this mountain.
Hope to see you all on the road soon.
Your Friend, Benny
That's why I like Benny so much. He just throws it out there. If it's on his mind it's coming out of his mouth. He's just happy to be "in the mix" when he's with all of us on a ride. But don't let me mislead you. Benny can hammer. He works hard and never makes a bad decision. And like I said he's great fun.
So this week I declared my need for a Group Ride. After being a host home with 9 middle school girls for our church's Winter Weekend I was ready to put some miles in with friends. I put it out there on an email and 8 roadies showed up in downtown Lula, Georgia to ride together. Only Stephen Sisk and I knew about the trip to Benny's. I sprung it on them at the start of the ride. Of course they were just fine with it. So we prayed and off we went.
My only concern other than Benny not being there was the first time group rider Alex Fuentes. He was nervous. But he had all the right gear and smiled a lot so I wasn't worried too much. He was riding an old school Litespeed Ti bike with a triple chain ring his father-n-law gave him. He has no idea how cool it really is. Even though I keep telling him.
And speaking of old school, Star Bridges was rocking a vintage 90's John Deer jersey from his glory days on the team in Athens. I really envy him sometimes.
David Latty was wearing a funky green and white jersey that I'm sure I would never have bought from seeing it in a picture. But on him it was totally different somehow. It was so ugly is was cool. And that doesn't happen often. At least not to me.
So we headed towards Maysville on a long road called County Line that was mostly down hill. Not the best start to a ride because we never got warmed up. But we talked and I got to catch up with my friend Sean Philyaw. The back roads in Banks and Habersham are the best for riding.
Once in Maysville we took a left across the tracks and on to Benny's house. We rolled up and I knocked on the door. His wife came to the door and looked really puzzled. I said "We're here to see Benny?" Then she smiled really big and went to get him.
She pushed him to the door and he was surprised. His face was beaming. I felt really great.
The guys were gathered around as I wheeleed him down a few steps. He started thanking us and telling us the story of what he'd been going through. His wife brought him a jacket and took pictures while we talked. He must have thanked us a hundred times. I felt like we hadn't really done much. But to him it was obviously a great encouragement. We were all moved by his sweet attentive wife and his relentless positive attitude. The whole thing weighed heavy on all of us as we rolled away from Benny's home. I started thinking just how many wonderful things just happened?
|Our Sunday ride to Benny's house was more than just a visit.|
When we rolled to the end of the driveway there was a decision to make. How do we get back to Lula? At that moment nobody really cared. David threw out a suggestion and we took a left.
I found myself on the front with Star Bridges and we rode for a minute just soaking it in. Then he said "Makes you really enjoy every pedal stroke doesn't it?" I said "Yeah, it sure does."
I'm pretty sure every one's conversation for the next 10 minutes included words like that.
During the ride back I broke the cleat on my right shoe and couldn't clip in. This created an annoying but challenging problem. Evidently I've had those cleats for a long time. We rode down a road called Carson Segars and I took the time to hang out with our newbie Alex. It was on this road that he began to ride farther than he'd ever been. His legs and lungs new it but his head must be pretty stubborn because he kept on mashing to keep up. I think Alex would love racing his bike some... he has the head for it.
We regrouped a couple of times on the way back up to Lula. I stayed with Alex and we talked cycling. His friend Mark stayed with us and we got him back in one piece. I thought it was especially nice of the guys to wait on us just outside of Lula and we all rode in together. What a great day on the bike with friends!
The next day I received an email from Benny. I'm posting it because I know all the guys with me will be reading this and I want to extend the good feeling they carried away from our ride. I was told one time by a good friend that the greatest measure of blessing that God can bestow on a man is when that man gives selflessly to someone else. "The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself" (Proverbs 11:25).
Thanks for reading!