I haven't blogged forever and a day, at least not here, and this is probably a strange way to start back to blogging again, but something very unique has just happened in the cycling world and I just have to share it with someone!
Belgian cyclist Philippe Gilbert has just completed what is called the "Ardennes Hat Trick or Grand Slam" which means that he won three of the European Spring Classic races in a space of only eight days. He first took the Amstel Gold Race on April 17, followed by the Fleche Wallone Race on April 20, followed by the oldest and probably most famous of the Classics, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, on April 24.
Just to give you an idea of how great a feat this is, the Amstel Gold race was 260.4 kilometers this year, or 161.8 miles. The Fleche Wallone was 201 kilometers or 124.9 miles and the Liege was 255.5 kilometers or 158.7 miles. And not only did Gilbert have to cover these distances at speeds most mortals cannot imagine producing on a bike, he had to overpower the best cyclists in the world at the end of each race to take home the prize. I was particularly impressed with his final effort at the Amstel Race because he led the pack for miles and miles, and still won the race. That is rare. Usually the guy in front tanks and one of those behind him wins.
I suppose this is why he's only the second man in European cycling history to accomplish this feat. The last one ended up testing positive for drugs sometime later, hopefully Gilbert's character is as strong as his recent performances.
Now, as a lover of Jesus Christ this inspires me for at least two reasons. First, I'm absolutely amazed at the God who can create beings who think of things like cycling, who have the ability to set goals and train and achieve seemingly unachievable things, and who have capacities like joy which give a fullness of expression and sense of completion to such feats. Just think of humankind's best efforts at creating robots. They're a total joke compared to just one human being. Take some time and think about all the stuff people do that you take for granted and gasp at the creative capacity of God! He's really amazing. I mean really amazing.
Second, when I think about how much focus and dedication it takes to achieve something like this, I think of Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."
So congratulations, Phillipe Gilbert, on an historic feat. Glory and praise to you, God Almighty, for your unimaginable creative capacities and all the grace that's implied in a feat like this. And wake up, my slumbering soul, run as though you may obtain the prize. Exercise self-control, discipline your body, be inspired by earthly things to pursue the wreath that is imperishable.