Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Finish Strong Cycling

Thumbs Up Thumbs DownThere is perhaps no more iconic symbol of modern social life today than the thumbs up symbol used on numerous media platforms. With merely a tap of these buttons, we declare to the world what we like or dislike, or of what things we approve or disapprove.

So embedded is public approval in our culture that getting the most likes, the most views, or the most followers has become its own phenomenon. Taken to the extreme, we end up with absurdities such as the Kiki (“InMyFeelings”) Challenge where people jump out of moving vehicles to dance while on video – all for the approval of a virtual audience.

Here in America, public opinion is a beast like none other in modern American life that has both lifted up unlikely heroes as well as taken down the powerful. The mood of the masses has at times even trumped the order of…

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Triple Bakery Ride

Ben Franklin regularly makes the trip up the watershed by bike, and recently he, along with other members of Finish Strong, rode into the foothills on what has been termed, “The Triple Bakery Ride.”

The Triple Bakery is one of those that might well be placed in the “Epic” category of rides in the Upstate. As the name implies, favorites of the popular Bakery and Double Bakery Rides will be familiar with waypoints on this trek, as visits to the cyclist friendly bakeries in Flat Rock and Saluda are included.  Throw in the Bracken Mountain Bakery in Brevard, NC, and, voila, you have a confectionary trifecta worthy of remembrance!

To be certain, one must pay homage to the mountains in order to enjoy the delights that await on this 80+ mile journey.  The greatest challenge came early for Ben’s group with a climb up Caesar’s Head.  On this day, morning fog set the perfect backdrop for a group photo commemorating the ascent, then it was off to Brevard for their first bakery stop. Six plus hours, 84 miles, and 5,600 feet of climbing later, the team returned to the meetup location in Marietta, SC.

Finish Strong, a team of endurance athletes committed to sharing the Word of Christ through cycling, welcomes anyone to join the team on their regular group rides. Rides are usually posted on the Strava club page or are posted via email. You may also use our contact form for further information.

Athletes who wish to join the mission of Finish Strong as part of the endurance team may register now!

Join Finish Strong

James Fowler
Finish Strong

The Mountain Ahead

BE WILLING TO KEEP CLIMBING THIS HIGH mountain with Me. Sometimes you look back nostalgically at a long-ago stage of your journey. You yearn for that easier, less complicated time in your life. But I want you to recognize it for what it was: a base camp. It was a time and place of preparation for the arduous adventure ahead of you.
The mountain you are climbing is exceedingly high; the top of it is hidden in clouds. So it’s impossible for you to know how far up those heights you have come— and how far you have yet to go. However, the higher you go, the better view you have. Although each day is a challenge and you often feel weary, take time to enjoy the magnificent scenery!

This journey with Me is training you to see from a heavenly perspective that transcends your circumstances. The higher up the mountain you climb, the steeper and more challenging your path becomes— but the greater your adventure as well. Remember that the higher you go with Me, the closer you get to your ultimate goal— the heights of heaven!

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. —Matthew 17: 1– 2 NKJV

The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]! —Habakkuk 3: 19 AMP

Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. —Philippians 3: 20– 21

Vince Schmidt
Finish Strong

Learning to Rest

I have been mostly off the bike for the past few weeks due to some personal health concerns. For someone always on the move, being still has been very difficult. Much of my world up to now has revolved around my passion, which is cycling. With it unexpectedly taken from me due to some health concerns, I have been left with a void along with lingering questioning as to why God would allow such a disappointing turn to happen.

The Lord reminded me in this unexpected sabbatical that when Martha and Mary were with him, Jesus commended Mary as having made the better choice (Luke 10). Resting at the feet of Jesus is in fact the only thing we ever really need to do. God can get along just fine in the world without our help. When we do participate in the work, we should see it rather as a privilege on our part to ride along with him, so to speak, and be a part of what he is doing in the world. I say this because I think I was falling into the trap of needing to do the work of sharing Christ, rather than needing to just be a child of God.

Consequently, I have been learning the practice of rest. As I draw near to Christ, my hope is that he will give clarity for when/how to move forward in the way the he wishes for me to go.  This passage from John comes to mind as I write these words:

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8 (NIV)

The Spirit of God moves the people of God as he pleases, and as with the wind, we may not know where the Lord may be taking us at times, however we can rest in the hope that God’s best purposes are fulfilled as we draw close to Christ and follow as he leads. It can actually be liberating to be free from the demands that others or we may place on ourselves.

Only one thing is important, and I am choosing what is better.

James Fowler

Construction in Progress

Construction: it’s the bane of every cyclist. To find out that our favorite Strava route or segment is under construction is among the worst things we can imagine happening to dampen our riding spirits.  With the immediate loss comes a temporary inconvenience, which can overshadow the positive, future benefits the improvements will bring.

We can be the same way with people, too.  New, inexperienced cyclists can be perceived as an inconvenience, with their ignorance of cycling etiquette, group pace, and other aspects of the group riding experience. Nonetheless, we were all newbies once, and as one who is still new to group riding (last year was my first year) I can recall instances when I have been treated with distain by more experienced riders for my perceived slights.  I have also been in groups where cyclists have spread gossip about other riders in the group. Whether a cyclist’s behavior on the bike is worthy of correction or not, talking behind other’s backs achieves nothing except to alienate individuals.

Rather than tearing people down, I strongly believe we should be looking out for each other instead. The person I help and show grace to today may be the person who watches my back tomorrow. While I have had my negative experiences, I can honestly say (thankfully) that over the course of the past year I can recall many more instances of those who coached me gently through my inexperience instead of mocking me or developing a distain for my participation.  I am truly grateful for their mentoring and hold these folks in very high regard – ones who serve as a model for the rest of us.

The bible, as you would imagine, also weighs in on the matter:

Don’t be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves.  Care about them as much as you care about yourselves.
Philippians 2:3-4

As with a construction project, there is a worthy goal awaiting when we invest in the lives of others, whether we’re simply out there on the road showing grace to a fellow cyclist, or (more importantly) when we take the time to care about people while we’re on this journey through life.  It’s a lesson we can all pass forward….

James Fowler
Finish Strong