August 19, 2018
The rest day scheduled for Arcata/Bayside happened to fall on a Sunday, while we were staying in a 122-year-old country Presbyterian church, congregation size, approximately twelve. The minister also serves a larger congregation in downtown Arcata. We had the full run of the facility, with only a request to clear our gear from the sanctuary by 9:15 for the 9:30 service.
The minister arrived around 8:30 to “make the coffee and wind the clock.” He’s an ex-Marine and avid cyclist who runs programs for the homeless in addition to ministering to his two congregations.
Since it was a day of rest, we eschewed our bicycles and called a cab to take us into Arcata where we walked, shopped, and ate at least twice (long-distance cycling involves a lot of eating). We came back in the late afternoon to re-assemble our gear for the night, prepare our bikes for tomorrow’s 60-mile ride, and to rest.
The latter is an art that can be surprisingly elusive. For me personally, because of when I joined the ride, the rest day has come after only two days in the saddle. So, I didn’t feel the need—physically or mentally—for a break. But perhaps this makes it even more of a lesson in being present in the moment before us, and to accept its gifts with grace.
One of the powers of a long cycling trip is that it forces us to slow down. Rest days take that lesson to another level, forcing us to be in a moment of doing almost nothing. It can be challenging or restorative, depending on how we choose to respond to its rhythm and cadence.
These trips are all about rhythm and cadence—on the bike, between the riders, with our “other” life waiting at home, with the natural surroundings, local people, and our hosts that we meet along the way.
This is a process of attunement, and sometimes to hear the tone, we have to be still and silent—at rest. Today, we are at rest, seeking attunement, on a country road, in a small white church built in 1896.
Breathing in, breathing out.