The first day on the Tour de DioMil (from Port Washington to Beaver Dam) could not have been a more perfect beginning to this pilgrimage!
We left our starting point around 9:30 a.m., with a total of five riders — three of whom are parishioners at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Beaver Dam. We had a lovely, mostly overcast, slightly cooler than usual late August day for the entire trip, which was nearly the perfect way to begin this eleven day adventure. We also had our support vehicles to scout ahead on our pre-planned route to insure we were going the right direction. We had maps to use as reference to clarify any murkiness in those directions, and help us plan an alternative route in the event of construction detours or road closures. But we also had an additional resource on yesterday’s ride — the lived experience of the bikers from Beaver Dam whose “home turf” are the back roads of Ozaukee, Washington and Dodge Counties.
By the time we stopped for a lunch break, we had traveled a bit over twenty miles. We had stuck precisely to the route directions “as printed”. But at our lunch break one of the riders from St. Mark’s said, “If you are willing to entertain some changes to the route, I have a suggestion or two that will take put us on a much quieter, less traveled (and for bikers, safer!) road immediately and will allow us to avoid another heavily traveled road closer to Beaver Dam.” I was all ears! So we spent about ten minutes after our lunch with maps stretched across the hood of our supply vehicle, and our guide from Beaver Dam telling us a different way — a way that couldn’t be read from our map because it was a part of his experience of actually riding on the roads we were discussing.
The rest of the afternoon was sheer pleasure! OK, to be honest a couple of the hills were rugged! But, our route changes took us through beautiful Wisonsin farmland on roads where the only “traffic” we often saw was our two support vehicles. And the other bonus for listening to our guide’s suggestions? A shorter trip — 63 miles (instead of the 70 or so miles the original route anticipated).
The first day of the Tour de DioMil reminded me again of the gift of community. Throughout the planning for this event, I have depended upon others to help me with innumerable details. Indeed, the Tour would have never begun as smoothly without all of their efforts. And yesterday, the community of riders from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Beaver Dam showed their fellow pedaling pilgrims the hospitality of travelers — helping those of us who were unfamiliar with the area navigate the trip more efficiently, if not effortlessly (there were those pesky hills after all!). A map is no substiture for the wisdom of a guide!
Hmmm….maybe this is the reason Jesus didn’t say, “Read a book.” but rather, “Follow me.”