I’m a Pastor, so by occupational hazard, I have a high stress job. Bearing the constant load of others has an inevitable affect on you over the long haul. I love what I do. I’m very passionate about helping broken people find new meaning to life. Our church is growing and I have a wife and four beautiful children. To say that I stay super busy is an understatement. To make the context greater, we homeschool all of our kids. Now, here’s where my bike enters the story. Several years ago I was absolutely burned out. I found myself losing interest in everything. At home, I could barely get out of bed. Our church secretary was a marvelous “cover” for me as I could rarely even take a phone call. My emotions were all over the place. I couldn’t carry on a conversation without breaking down. It made me an angry family man. I would smile in town. I still preached with enthusiasm and I hid my utter misery of depression. I found myself parking my car in the middle of the day and sleeping for hours in the parking lot of a convenient store. After a horrible year of absolute denial, I hired a Life-Coach. He was very helpful on a number of levels. I made lifestyle changes and began to see tremendous recovery. However, there was always a nagging in my gut that I was missing something. I began exercising like crazy and even created a 3 part intense video series for people to get healthy. I had started walking extreme distances to raise money for charities that I believed in. It was out of my comfort zone because I’ve never played sports or expressed any athleticism. But, it was in July of 2013 (17 months ago) in a staff meeting that it was casually brought up that “you should raise money riding a bike.” I was 37 years old, busy as a bumblebee, outwardly successful but still trying to evade the feelings of failure and frustration that depression had brought upon me. That week, I bought a 40lb single speed bike for $150 and rode 10 butt-numbing miles. I decided that I’d train enough to put together a charity ride to raise money for local victims of sex-trafficking. After 2 weeks of daily upping my mileage, I began reading everything I could get my hands on. The hook was starting to be set….deeply. Within 2 months I had upgraded to a real carbon road bike and the full kit. I even nervously started using clip-less pedals. With a few guys in the church, I took off after only 2 1/2 months experience and rode 800 miles through 3 states in 6 days. That’s all it took. The solitude and peacefulness of pedaling all day seemed to bring healing to my mind and freedom to my soul. I was eating more, sleeping soundly and thinking clearly. To make a very long story short, the bike brought me back to life. I tell folks, “Jesus saved my life and cycling made me live.” My new hobby quickly turned into intense training and for my 1 year cycling anniversary, I raised $22,000 for our church by riding my bicycle completely across the country in 10 days flat. During this time of emotional healing, I was told that I should watch a movie called “Ride The Divide.” I watched it with absolute amazement. What most people consider an adventure in torture and impossibility, I saw as incredibly motivating and truly inspiring. I bought an expensive mountain bike and once again began logging ridiculous miles. What’s interesting is that the longer the ride, the greater I operate. It’s been rightly said that, “endurance athletes are running from something” – Yes! That’s it. It’s all starting to make sense. The more I suffer, the farther I go, the more loneliness I endure, the more extreme elements I conquer, the farther I pedal myself away from the emptiness and anxiety that has a tendency to seize my mind and cripple my mobility. I’m still high strung. I still love my calling, stress and all. However, my bike, well multiple bikes, have become a soothing relief that bring purpose to my pain. I’m now signed up as an official racer for the 2015 Tour Divide. This will be my very own gift to myself for my 2 year anniversary of riding a bike. I’m already in full-blown training mode. I don’t know how it will end but the daily passion to be ready for something so immense has become my new normal. Whether I win, lose or barely finish, it’ll be an extraordinary journey that continues to shape me into a man on a mission to leave behind the dark days of depression. I’m a better husband, father, pastor, and individual because of the raw freedom that a bike brings me. I’ve got a lot to learn and I look forward to those I can gain wisdom from. Pedal on friends, pedal on.