by Kathryn Amdahl, 2023 missionary (rider on Ohio Route)
I first heard of Biking for Babies a few years ago during early college after an acquaintance of mine posted about it on Facebook. At the time, I was very involved in Students for Life and 40 Days for Life, which seemed like more than enough to me. To the average Christian person, I was doing more than my part for the pro-life movement and to the average non-Christian, I was insane for the amount of pro-life activities I found myself involved in. My reaction to seeing that a friend was doing the ride was “Oh, that’s crazy. I will NEVER do that.” You see, I am a swimmer, dancer, and horseback rider. I do not do extreme marathon-like sports such as a 600 mile bike ride. However, as the years went by, I came across Biking for Babies once again on a pro-life job board after I was on the job hunt during my senior year of college. At the time, I was preparing for a senior piano recital, participating in probably 10+ concerts per quarter, maintaining a credit load of 18-20 credits, and applying to and auditioning to graduate schools. So when I asked my mother if I should participate, she naturally said “No way. This is your senior year. Do this another year when you have more time.” And after speaking with her, I thought to myself, “Naw, what is one more thing?? I can totally do this.” Not too long after, I applied in December of 2022 and got accepted as a 2023 B4B Rider Missionary. I had three months to mull over my decision and to figure out my new life as a budding cyclist. Despite my schedule, I was determined to participate and be a witness to others about what it takes to change the culture to one that supports life. Little did I know how truly challenging and life changing it would be at the same time.
In March, I began my training, mostly on the stationary bike because Washington state stays cold until late May or so. In April, I found a used carbon fiber bike (totally a God purchase). Since I had little experience with bicycling, I had to purchase everything and *attempt* my training rides on the road. Many tears were shed as I struggled to figure out how to change tubes, which pedals are the best (clipless 100%), and how on earth gears work. My first ride of substance was only 35 miles and I will never forget it due to how exhausted I was. Both friends and family were asking me after that ride, “Is this really worth it?” My answer was a tentative yes. I was still determined to do it, but my stubbornness had waned slightly due to the growing pains I’m sure all cyclists must go through during training. But then, God provided once again. Several cyclists at my church offered to help me with my bike; one purchased me a new seat and another allowed me to borrow his bicycle box for the National Ride.
When it came time to invite mission partners into our experience, over half of my donations came from that church and I was in awe once again of how selflessly generous this church truly was. As my training weeks went by, I had three friends volunteer to ride with me. One of them did both of my century training rides on a mountain bike, which was super impressive and I hope that he becomes a missionary next year. Also, during this training time, I saw my mph increase which was amazing to me because that was a physical representation of something that I never thought I could do: become *somewhat proficient* at road cycling in the span of four months.
Once July rolled around, I could not believe what I was about to embark upon. This was the moment we had trained for; to go out and give of ourselves so that others may live. I was reminded of John 15:13 which states “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” I believe that the ride comes down to this ultimately; we love and care about others so much that we will do anything so that they know how much God cares about them individually as people, how much He values them, and how He created them unique. No one out there on the planet in the past, present, or future will be like you.
The National Ride week was one of the hardest experiences of my entire life, but by far one of the most worthwhile. The bodily discomfort was immense (I never knew our bodies could hurt in so many different ways) but corresponding with the discomfort was the realization that this was something I wanted to participate in for the rest of my life. Also during that week, I saw Jesus present in my fellow missionaries in ways we only hear about but often don’t experience. The daily laying down of our lives for each other was truly beautiful and left a lasting impact upon my life.
So you see, the answer to why me and why now is this: if we do not stand for life now, it will never be defended. It truly is cliché but, why not you and why not now? We were born for such a time as this and there is no better time in all of history for our world to see what loving the least of these and your neighbor looks like. As our 20s and 30s fly by, there will never be a good time to complete a season with Biking for Babies. Young adults creating and giving the time, money, and skills for this ride amidst the chaos of everything else is what makes this memorable and literally life changing for babies, moms, and missionaries. Please consider joining us next year!!!