Glenwood pastor on pedaling pilgrimage | AspenTimes.com

Glenwood pastor on pedaling pilgrimage

Dennis Webb
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Lauren Martin trains on Four Mile Road in Glenwood Springs on Thursday. (Kara K. Pearson/Post Independent)
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” There’s no getting around it. When the Rev. Lauren Martin of the Glenwood Mennonite Church gets back from his summer vacation, his congre­gation can expect him to weave his experiences into a sermon or two ” or more.

“Absolutely ” I’m afraid they’ll have to hear about this once in a while,” Martin said.

Martin is about to embark on what has been his decades­long dream, riding his bicycle across the country. And while he is expecting a wonderful experience, he also knows there will be some hard times that should provide spiritual enlightenment.

“I have no idea what it will look like or what it will be, but I am sure my faith will be test­ed on this trip, and I’ll proba­bly have some new understand­ings of this life journey, and how that is part of the Christian faith ” the Christian life being a journey,” Martin said.

Martin, who is 47 and from Pennsylvania, long thought his own life journey would include a coast- to- coast bike trip some­day. But the years began slip­ping by.

“Life happens. You get your education, you get married, you get a career, you’re raising children and you literally shelve some of those early dreams,” Martin said.

“When I was 45, I had one of those experiences where people say they suddenly wake up and say to themselves, ‘I’m getting older, I’d better do this or I’m not going to get it done.'” On Thursday, Martin is scheduled to fly to Seattle with his bike. His plan is to dip his rear wheel in the Pacific Ocean in Anacortes, Wash., and then dip his front wheel in the Atlantic Ocean in Bar Harbor, Maine, some 4,200 miles and two months later.

He’ll ride alone and unsup­ported the first half of the trip. The slightly built Martin will pull about 40 to 45 pounds behind him so he can camp along the way. Then his wife, Kim, and daughters, Mariah, 14, and Sierra, 10, will join him in mid-July, after Kim takes leave from her job as a nurse at Valley View Hospital.

Kim plans to drive the fami­ly’s minivan ahead to a camp­site each night, and frequently bike back to join Lauren. Their daughters also plan to do a fair amount of pedaling as they see the sights while traveling east.

Martin said he is heading into his trip wishing he had trained more, and is a bit apprehensive about trading in the comforts of home and rou­tine for days filled with biking, camping and a measure of uncertainty. But it won’t be an entirely unfamiliar experience. When he was in college, a friend decided to push a wheel­chair trip from Fairbanks, Alas­ka, to Washington, D.C. Martin accompanied him by bicycle from Denver to Washington.

“It was basically at that point that I said someday I will ride my bike across the coun­try,” he said.

He knows, partly as a result of reading accounts of others’ cross-country trips, that he can expect “some incredible hospi­tality” along the way. He also knows some of the challenges he might face: “the mosqui­toes, the hail, the heat, the truck drivers who basically want you off their highway.”

Martin has gone so far as to write down the fears he faces, and ask himself what he can do about them, such as buying a rearview mirror as a small measure of safety from vehi­cles. He also has heard fears from some people about whether, after such an adven­ture, he’ll want to return to Glenwood and continue to be the pastor where he has served for 15 years.

“There’s nothing you can buy to take care of that one,” he said with a grin.

But he appreciates that his church agreed to grant him a sabbatical to pursue his dream.

“In many respects this church is being generous and liberal in the sense of this is an investment in me. … They basically know if they keep me happy I’ll stay longer,” he said.

Church member Steve Car­caterra, a longtime cyclist who no longer rides much because of a back problem, praised Martin for pursuing something that Carcaterra also long had meant to undertake someday.

“I think it really takes a cer­tain amount, well, a lot of courage at that point in life to do a major thing like that and I just applaud him for doing it, not just talking about it,” Car­caterra said. “I just wish I could go along with him. It ought to be a pretty good adventure.”

Martin will lug along a lap­top so he can keep a trip diary and post it on http://www.crazyguyonabike.com, which features bicycle touring journals.

“I am expecting to see some beautiful country. I’m expect­ing to see why people say the United States is so beautiful. I will want to tell other people about that experience,” he said.


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