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...”
July 29 - 30 | Sierra valley | Virtual Option AVAILABLE
2022 marks the Agony’s 40th anniversary and we’re expecting many returning riders to join us for this commemorative year. Among them are CER staff Caryn Galeckas and Suzanne Hartley, who plan to ride virtually before the event, allowing them to continue in their leadership roles during the event itself. This year’s staff riders are pictured below.
Clockwise: Nate Boyd, Executive Director; Caryn Galeckas, Office Manager; Suzanne Hartley, High School Principal; Aaron Pellerino, Maintenance Foreman; Jensen Near, Director of Student Life; Zoya Lee, Communications Coordinator
From Aaron, first time rider:
Working these past two years at the Ranch has been an absolute privilege and adventure! It is amazing to see how the Lord moves each day in the hearts of our students. Last year I sagged for the Agony Ride, and it was incredible to see the sacrifice the riders made for these students. Now, I get to be one of those riders! My prayer is for our students to witness the sacrificial love of Jesus in action. As I train, this isn’t just another physical challenge, but an opportunity to show them the love of God, who laid everything down for us!
TO SPONSOR A RIDER OR GET INVOLVED, VISIT AGONYRIDE.ORG
The 40th annual Agony Ride will take place July 29th-30th, 2022 in the Sierra Valley. Learn more
The Agony Ride began in 1982 as an invitational bicycle ride and hike put together by a group of friends associated with a sister wilderness ministry, Summit Expeditions. Bob Walsh, a CER staff member at that time and former staff member with Summit, received an invitation. The ride was set up to start in Badwater, Death Valley, go over Towne’s Pass, over Panamint Pass, through the small town of Lone Pine, and up to the Whitney Portals. Riders would then leave their bicycles and proceed on foot to the top of Mt. Whitney.
The goal was to make it from the lowest point in the continental U.S. to the highest in 24 hours. When Bob received his invitation, he thought if he was going to put out that much effort perhaps he could get folks to sponsor him to raise funds for Discovery Expeditions, at that time a part of CER. The organizers gave him permission to do so and to bring some other riders from D.E. along. That year six riders raised $2,868.
Around the world, Covid-19 is highlighting fragility and need in society, and not just with medical and economic systems. Social disruption, family chaos, and emotional fallout are evident too, and underneath all lies a gaping spiritual need. For 50 years, Christian Encounter Ranch has been devoted to addressing these very issues. You can help us do this by signing up for the Agony Ride today.
Despite the unknowns of the coming months, we will still be hosting the 38th annual Agony Ride at the end of July. We plan to ride in the Sierra Valley as usual. If gatherings that size are prohibited, we have contingency plans, such as subdividing into smaller groups. Even if tight restrictions are in place, you can still participate: our team of tech volunteers is creating a whole set of fantastic new tools that allow a virtual option. On July 24-25, you can ride wherever you are, anywhere in the world.
Due to quarantining, this year we're more aware of our hunger for caring and authentic community than normal. The camaraderie of the Agony and the demonstration of Christ's sacrificial love that takes place in that valley cannot be replaced. If our gathering is limited, there will be loss.
But the virtual option will result in new joys and opportunities. It allows people unable to travel to participate--maybe for the first time. It creates new opportunities to recruit friends in other locations. It gives people with tight work schedules the ability to ride too. The Agony will still happen, life-saving money will still be raised, and you can be part of it.
The purpose for the ride stays exactly the same: overcoming the cycles of brokenness, one story at a time. If anything, the lapse in societal structure makes the Ranch program for struggling youth more strategic and necessary than ever, and the economic downturn puts our scholarship fund squarely in the spotlight. We are so grateful for our Agony riders, who allow us to give scholarships to 100% of the young people who come to us for healing and a fresh start.
Sign up today to be part of a worthy cause: saving lives and giving hope. In the meantime, build your immune system and strengthen your lungs by going on a bicycle ride today!
For more details, check out the FAQs on AgonyRide.org. We will keep you posted as restrictions change and plans in line with state and local guidance develop.
Your partner in this good work,