Glenwood pastor pedals 4,080 miles
September 9, 2007
GLENWOOD SPRINGS For two months and two days, Lauren Martin had a lot on his mind.Bicycling 4,080 miles cross-country – from Anacortes, Wash., to Bar Harbor, Maine – can lend itself to the thought process.”Cycling is a monotonous activity that frees your mind,” said Martin, pastor of Glenwood Mennonite Church. “I got to thinking.”Martin embarked on the cross-country ride on June 8, riding solo for five weeks before his wife and two daughters joined him in July. He camped alone, or with new friends he made along the route that took him mostly along the United States-Canada border.”There is such a simplicity in cycling solo,” he said. “The daily traveling on the road, that was something I enjoyed. I had a wonderful trip, a spectacular time.”Along the way, the 48-year-old Martin met cyclists such as Eric Webster, a direct descendent of Noah Webster – of dictionary fame.
“He was much more spontaneous. He didn’t even have a route,” Martin said. “We rode together for three days. I was in this structured little route. Just listening to him helped me realize there’s more than one way to do something.” He also befriended a fellow cyclist and avid sailor from Hawaii who told tales of sailing across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.”I spent about a week with him. What an interesting guy who told me so many stories,” Martin said. “That’s a friendship that will continue – I’ve talked to him three times since, and he’s invited the family to come out to Hawaii. You really do come out of your shell when you do something like a cross-country ride.”Martin, 48, had wanted to cycle cross-country since college. He accompanied a friend, injured after a motorcycle accident, who took his wheelchair across the U.S. to Washington, D.C. He joined him on the Denver-to-D.C. leg of the trip.”It wasn’t a lifelong dream of mine, but it has been a 20-year dream,” Martin said. “I wanted to have the experience of the adventure. I needed some adventure in my life. I decided instead of a racy Corvette or an affair, I would do this. But it wasn’t just me, it wasn’t just my trip.”
Martin’s wife of 18 years, Kim, and the couple’s daughters, Mariah, 14, and Sierra, 10, joined him in Milaca, Minn.”The first thing we learned is the difference between an adventure and a vacation,” Kim said. “Lauren was on an adventure, and we went there on vacation mode.”Living in close quarters, in tents on campgrounds, the Martins learned life lessons. Interpersonal relationships, communication strategies and showing respect were all explored.”It just heightened the whole communication thing. Communication was a big thing – being able to talk when things weren’t always fun,” Kim said. “The girls learned it’s not all about me, and about working together as a team. And recognizing each person’s need for space. It helped them to verbalize what they needed.”Mariah and Sierra would often join their dad on bikes. They would also tear down and put up campsites and drive ahead with their mom to find a campground.”It was a very inspiring trip,” Kim said. “Mine wasn’t as physical as his, but we were all out of our comfort zones. Lauren thinks everyone should do this.”The adventure taught Lauren about becoming a more patient parent, overcoming adversity and learning to be flexible in life.”I would like to be a more gentler traveler in life. Becoming a more reasonable person to live with is a goal,” he said. “I have one teenager and one pre-teen. … I used to bug them all the time to clean their rooms. I needed order to get inner peace. You know what? I’d rather have a good kid with a messy room than have a messed-up kid with a clean room. That’s my challenge is to live at peace with my kids’ messy rooms.”
While riding solo, Martin learned an important lesson about acceptance.Taking cues from Bob Dylan, he found the answer blowin’ in the wind.”There was one stretch I was facing a headwind for four days straight. I was screaming at the wind, ‘What do you want from me?’ You’re talking to the wind like it’s its own spirit, its own entity,” he said. “The first step to healing was when I admitted I am powerless over the wind, this thing is bigger than me. There’s nothing I can do about it. Most of us live or lives trying to be in control, and I had to say, ‘Hey, guess what? I’m not in control.'”The Martins were so inspired, they hope to take another cross-country adventure in the future.Maybe even in the next five years.”Doing what I did, I had so much time to think. Life is too short to not do things that I’m not really excited about,” Martin said. “It’s not about being selfish. … We often live with a sense of obligation. But I feel the inner strength to say, ‘I don’t need to go around being everything to everyone.’ There was a change inside of me.”