by Jack Gebert, 2021 missionary (rider on Southern Route)
The world of superheroes is home to many colorful stories. You might liken them to modern myths, folklore tales of fantastic beings in oddly relatable situations.
The recent superhero epic “Avengers: Endgame” is one such story. It sees a ragtag team of Heroes, attempt to reverse the effects of a doomsday event. A tall order for anyone, let alone a dysfunctional ‘team’ consisting of Soldiers and Spies, Scientists, and Science Experiments.
When faced with the chance to ‘make it all right” and recognizing the same energy source that gave him his iconic green skin, the Incredible Hulk remarks with a casual, “its like…I was made for this”. The same words I found myself saying during the 2021 Biking for Babies National Ride.
My journey to the National Ride began over a year ago, when quarantine led me to reconsider why my “really nice bike” spent so much time on the wall of my garage. As an “all in” kind of guy, it wasn’t long before I found myself riding about 100 miles a week!
It was at this point that my wife spoke up, and simultaneously surprised me. She could have easily said that I was spending too much time away from her and the kids or that I was coming home too smelly or sweaty. She could have easily mentioned how ridiculous I look decked out in Lycra or that maybe I was becoming “obsessed”.
What she said instead was that I needed to put my talents to good use. She challenged me to give the glory to God, and she reminded me about Biking for Babies.
It was an instant match. The opportunity to take on a mission that felt very much like an extension of my own identity was not one I was about to pass up. And upon further examination, the chance to recommit to the ever-important Pro-life movement was something my soul deeply needed.
As I would come to find out, you can prepare your legs, your lungs, and your body for a 700-mile bike ride. That much is easy. What you can’t prepare for is how it will work on your heart, your soul.
On day 5 of the national Ride, my team faced a particularly challenging route. A 140-mile jaunt that saw us cover 3 different states. It was during the final 10-miles where the difficulty really set in. Physically and mentally exhausted, the miles began to stretch. That’s when it started raining.
No sooner had the rain soaked down to our socks than we found ourselves hugging the narrow shoulder of a busy street. Road spray and clouds were making it hard to see. I found myself at the front.
I was of course no more deserving of the front position than any of my teammates, but there I was, leading none the less. Perhaps it was a little bit of fatherly instinct kicking in, but something told me that’s where I needed to be. In that moment any sense of “I” slipped away. I was not cold, I was not ready to be done, I was not leading. Rather, “We” – We are almost there, We can do this!
Then we arrived. My team-mates thanked me for “pulling” them through the sketchy traffic and pouring rain. My heart swelled. And that’s when it happened. There we were, kitted-up in matching jerseys, just like any self-respecting superhero team would be, and the phrase came into mind, “its like…I was made for this”. Made for this team, made for this ride, made for this mission, made to serve others.
When you sign up for a long-distance bike ride you expect it to be a little challenging and a lot of fun. Yet, there was so much about the Biking for Babies National ride that I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t expecting to find a family, to start what I hope are lifelong friendships, to find what I know so many of my peers struggle to find…Purpose.