40 Years, 40 Agonys
Mike Boon is the only person to have ridden in every Agony Ride since its inception. Mike has previously served as both CER staff and board member. He currently serves as Executive Director and senior chaplain at
Placer County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy.
“The whaaat ride?”
“The Agony Ride.”
“OK, that doesn’t sound remotely like fun.”
“Well, fun isn’t necessarily part of the package. It’s for a great cause. It’s for Christian Encounter Ranch where kids can go get the life help they need.”
“Twenty-four hours on a bicycle?
“Well, as far as you can ride in that amount of time.”
And so the conversation continues. I can’t tell you how many times I have had that conversation over the last 40 years. More often than not it ends with some version of “better you than me” or “you ARE crazy.” And, sadly, that’s likely more true than I want to admit.
Forty years, over three locations (well, more if you count virtual rides), and a number of route variations in the Sierra Valley. Stories and spiritual and personal insights abound. I could fill my word limit with just the keywords to the many stories and insights. The contrasts are astounding; worship at the summit, barfing in the valley, frozen water bottles, heat exhaustion, rattlesnakes, cows, and drunk drivers. I could regale you for hours. (Well for 30 minutes or so anyway; the rest of the time you’d be yawning and looking for the nearest exit.)
And so many motivational scripture references. “Run with endurance...” “Press on for the prize...” “Who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross...”
These and countless others have been memorized, taped to handlebars, and otherwise utilized to help riders remember that their pain, their sweat, their efforts are not for accolades but for Him (Jesus) and for them (the Ranch students). Some came to break records, some came to raise money, some came to love on students; all came to put their heart into scholarships for students who bravely came for help.
Originally conceived as a challenge to push, stretch, and test the mettle of those who pushed and challenged others, the Whitney Challenge struck the entrepreneurial spirit of a Yates and Walsh CEM duo and the term “Agony Ride” was birthed. Over the years God blessed the diligence and faith of Ranch admin and the ride caught the spirit of challenge of many riders. Young and old they came to serve and maybe suffer. A few hundred bucks grew like a young boy’s lunch from the widow’s pennies to exceed a quarter of a million dollars.
John the Evangelist once wrote, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” So goes the Agony. I suppose that if every rider over the years wrote their Agony Memoirs they would fill a small library. For myself, with all the memories, all the challenges, the defeats, and the victories; all can be summed up in one word, “Obedience.”
Join us July 29-30 in the Sierra Valley! We have 110 riders signed up at time of publication. Motorcycle rovers, transporters, medics, massage therapists, bike mechanics, food prep assistants - we need you! Sign up at agonyride.org.