2017 Habitat 500



A rainy day rest stop in 2016

The signature fundraising for Minnesota Habitat for Humanity is the Habitat 500 bike tour. Each July we ride – you guessed it – 500 miles over seven days in support of decent and affordable housing.

This is my 5th ride, and I’m thrilled to say that we’ve just passed $5000 in early fundraising. Our goal is $7500, and I think we’ll blow past this in a few more weeks! Each year we ride in a different part of the state. We stay in school gymnasiums, and eat meals prepared by local churches. Along the way, we are fed every 20 miles or so at rest stops that serve up the kind of high energy foods cyclists need. The cold pressed coffee at rest stop 2 is heavenly. This year’s ride is July 9-15.

mebikecoldTraining in early spring is a bit…uh…adventurous in Northern Minnesota. You need to wear a LOT of clothing: insulated tights, insulated jersey, neoprene booties like scuba divers wear, and a windproof insulated shell. On cold days I add a layer of under armor. You don’t want to forget to put duct tape over the vents in your bike shoes.

I’d like to think this makes us mentally tougher, since the best part of a cold ride is when it’s over. It’s a yearly rite of passage on the frozen tundra. But take heart! In the words of our Viking forbearers, that which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Once the days grow longer, the sun higher in the sky, and the winds calmer; we are ready to ride in earnest…maybe with a hint of Viking aggression.

The online donation site is up, and can be found here.

A final thought. As the pastor of First Lutheran in Grand Rapids, MN I’m super pleased to say that we’ve been supporting Itasca Habitat for Humanity for several years. Behind me are more than 200 volunteers and donors who bang nails, serve meals to 150 hungry cyclists, and give generously.



The Road Goes On

Well, it’s all over. 41 miles this morning through a thunder shower – stopping and starting frequently on bike paths. Two miles of crushed limestone made for some epic mud for skinny tires. I had a 16″ wide stripe of goo up my back. My bike was so filthy that I immediately stripped and cleaned the drivetrain once I arrived home.

I rode 501 miles, climbed 8149 feet, burned 38,635 calories [three times normal consumption  each day], averaged 15.5 mph, and ended with only one saddle sore. Desitin is a man’s best friend. I don’t have much desire to sit on a bike saddle this morning, but expect that this will change by Tuesday or Wednesday. [SMILE]

Our 135 riders raised $328,380 [July 27 update]. That’s enough money to buy materials for 5 or 6 homes – and more donations will trickle in during the next month. First Lutheran and I raised $2600 thus far, and will likely get a few more pledges.

Daily life on the road is, well – different. I’ll try to give you a snapshot. Much of it can be summarized in these words: get up early, stand in line, [EAT] ride, stand in line, [EAT] nap, stand in line, [EAT] go to bed  early. It’s also worth mentioning that we stop at each and every Dairy Queen or Culvers: it must be done.

The days start at 445 in the morning. We pack, get dressed and get our baggage on the gear truck. Breakfast is served at 6 and the road opens at 630. I’m a believer in getting the work done while the temps are cool and I’m feeling fresh, so I was done by about 1 pm each day…which translates into 4-5 hours in the saddle. We eat at rest stops and on the bike during the day, and enjoy a larger meal in the evening – sometimes followed by a second dinner an hour later. FYI: Pizza Hut delivers to school gyms.

It’s different having 134 other people in your bedroom. Everyone makes an extra effort to be somewhat modest and considerate, but it gets a little loud sometimes – not to mention rather fragrant by about day 4 of hot, humid riding. One evening the rec center we were sleeping at got so cool that I rummaged in the lost and found to find a bit more insulation. I passed the night wrapped in a baby blanket and an extra towel.

The rhythm of the road is rather hypnotic. Peddling at 85-90 rpm for an hour or more brings me into what I think of as the “the bike zone”. The hum of the drivetrain and the buzz of the road bring on a partial detachment that makes the miles go by without much notice on my part. It’s very peaceful and conducive to reflection.

One of the best perks of this tour is the two massage therapists who travel with us. I availed myself of their services four times…and what a difference. Their healing attention answers the question of how I could ride 100 miles on Wednesday and get up Thursday morning ready for another 80.

Where does the road go from here? In the short term, onward to Vermont. All of us are home for a week, and then off for some vacation time. For three days I’ll be riding the length of Vermont through the Green Mountains – an ambitious ride with numerous categorized hills, and about 14, 000′ of elevation gain. After that, a family reunion in New Hampshire’s White Mountains will give me a chance for another ride or two.

In the bigger picture, I’m very blessed to be supported by my family and congregation. Without them this project would have been impossible. I am hopeful that this charity ride will send a message of God’s love to our community. Our local paper [that publishes lots of anti-christian sentiment] consented to publish an article about me and this ride. The only picture I had of myself with my bike happened to be one where I was wearing my Brooklyn Brewery jersey – too funny! Now the community at large knows I like microbrews. At any rate, I’m hopeful that we can do something like this every year. Whether it be the HFH 500, or some other project we shall see.

For right now, I’m signing off 2202 miles later. It’s been a good ride, and I’m grateful for all of you who’ve come along.

One last time…

Grace & Courage, dear friends.

Hot-n-Humid 500 Day 1

I’m sitting in Culver’s enjoying a vanilla custard…not a bad way to end a hot day. Using 20+ miles of urban bike trails we got out of the city. 47 miles brought us to Hastings, MN and another air conditioned gym. I was among the first 15 riders to arrive and able to hit the showers with no wait!

Along the way I saw a coyote off in the woods.

It’s hot and humid – hence the title for this post. The breeze on the bike made if quite pleasant. It got nasty only when we stopped. (grin)

Along the way we stopped at Habitat house number 2000 which was just getting started. We got to sign the walls and leave a message. A lot of people asked us what group we were with. Though I was tempted to say we were a very large roller derby team, I was happy to do some HFH publicity.

I made a new friend today named Mark. Good conversation makes the miles fly by.

I’ll check-in again tomorrow.


Perhaps I spoke too soon…

This isn’t the first time I’ve spoken too soon!

I’m going to keep this blog alive because I’ve taken on a new project.

I’ll be participating in the Habitat 500 bike ride to benefit Habitat for Humanity. The ride is July 15-21, 2012, and though the route has not been published, it will be 500 miles of riding somewhere in MN. It’s very much an endurance ride since daily mileages will average 70-80 miles, with a 100 mile ride on day four. Here’s an example of a daily ride from a past tour.

By paying my entry fee [rather than just sending our yearly financial support] my congregation will raise a minimum of four times  our usual pledge to Habitat. And, as always, we will be taking the love of Jesus into the community.

This new challenge means starting my training in January. To stay focused on my preparation I have some intermediate goals: Minnesota Iron Man on May 5, and Superior Vista 100 on June 23. I’ll be riding over 1500 miles to be prepared for a strong effort. I’m also going to be breaking some new ground by using an indoor bike trainer during the cold months. The greatest risk here will be BOREDOM…since I can’t go fast enough to get hurt falling off.

In the meantime, cycling is very weather dependent up in the Northcountry. Looks like I can ride today and tomorrow. We’ve had a skiff of snow the last two nights, so xc skiing can’t be too far away.

So…here we go. New project, new goals, and new look for the blog.

Grace & courage, friends.