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Four days in a row.  In December.  Even in the snow.

It has been years since I have been outside so much for bike rides.  I still can’t believe it has been four days in a row.. and so much fun.  My thighs are burning from the exertion of the constant uphill efforts riding a mountain bike off road requires, but it is such a pleasant burn.  Cap that off with the added energy.. this morning I did not want to stop when my buddies wanted to quit after 2.5 hours, and there is nothing but benefit.  I am having a blast, so much that my three friends laughed at my enthusiasm as we rode this morning.

We rode snow covered and very technical single track this morning.  The place we rode is like a roller coaster park, a bit intimidating when slick, but so fun.  When I had to put out an effort, especially when my rear wheel began to spin in the snow near the top of a climb, I began to grunt like a maniac to push myself hard enough to keep going to the top.  My friends starting mimicking me.   Great friends, eh?  We hit the parking lot, but my friend Jim told me to try out his nice carbon frame bike with studded tires.  I took his bike out for a few minutes — I could hear them joking that Steve may never come back.  What a ride!

My friend, Jim, is someone I met several years ago while on a weekly group ride that one of the local bike shops sponsors.  I fell in with him right away, especially after I overheard him talking about church to another rider and asked him if he was a believer.  Jim is a believer, a Christ follower, and I think he was encouraged by my boldness and willingness to talk about my faith openly in public.  I am a talker, you see, and not ashamed of most anything, whether it is talking about God, family, friends, sex, sports,.. you name it.  Jim and I have been friends since.  He’s an avid mountain biker and the first person I asked about riding mountain bikes last October when I got the itch.  The rest is history and riding with Jim and our friends Jon and Eric has become a weekly event.  They like having me around, commenting this morning that they have already ridden off road more in the past two months than they did the entire last year!

And Jim gave me the ultimate comment this morning as we were transitioning between single track this morning.

“You know, Steve, I was just thinking this week how we met, how we have gotten to know each other and I can’t help how God puts friends together in the most interesting ways.  I sure am glad we crossed paths. I have always found the way you talk to people so easily an encouragement and it makes it easier for me to talk to people. That’s a gift, Steve, something I admire.”

Such a compliment from such a great encourager.  Of course, Jim also was laughing because of something I didn’t mention — we started talking on those group rides years ago because an accident that was caused when I crossed his back wheel with my front wheel on a turn.  We became friends through a bicycle crash.

And there will be chances for many more.  There were a lot this morning, all snow related however.  Jim has become a friend that I would be willing to sacrifice for.  I almost had the opportunity a year ago.  Jim needed a liver transplant.  I called his doctor and asked her to talk to him about accepting a living donation from me.  God provided for him then, too, by providing another way.