August 13, 2016
Last night we stayed at a Lutheran church in Lincoln City, Oregon. Inside their spacious facility was an indoor basketball court. After dinner, a few of the riders started a pickup game of half court. During the game, one of the riders tore the Achilles tendon in his left heel and had to leave the trip. He’s now home in Reno, Nevada, awaiting surgery on Monday.
Losing Jeff was a somber end to a beautiful first week of riding. In the intimacy of a small group spending 24 hours a day together, unique bonds are formed. We become family.
Jeff is one of those gifted athletes whose talent doesn’t cause him to set himself above or apart from others. One of our strongest riders, and most able and affable leaders, he never tried to compete with or judge anyone. On the contrary, he continuously praised and encouraged everyone.
For most of the first week, Jeff rode with me and another rider, Rick. Starting off this morning without Jeff felt strange and empty—there was a hole in our group—and though Rick and I enjoyed a beautiful ride down the stunning Oregon coast, my eyes filled with tears as we turned south from the church, feeling the loss of a family member.
That’s one of the many gifts that come on a journey such as this—the connections we make. They strengthen us, broaden our base, lengthen our vision, and lighten our load. They also open us to loss, when the immediacy of connection is severed. But as a teacher once told me, when the heart breaks, we can let it break us open.
When we do that, more gifts, more strength, and more joy are free to flow in.
Thank you, Jeff. Godspeed on your healing.