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,
16,670 miles ridden
$200,000+ raised in gifts and pledges
Men: Luis Magallon, 399
Women: Rosemary Lechnowsky, 329
New tandem record:
(The previous tandem record was 324 miles.
This year we had two tandem teams surpass the previous record.)
Gary Robinson & Carol Douglass, 350
Paul McClain & Michael Johnson, 329
Most money raised (CER staff):
Nate Boyd - $14,543
Most money raised (non-staff):
Jonathan Palmer - $14,237
Mark your calendars for next year’s Ride! July 24-25, 2020
More than a grueling physical event that its name implies, the Agony Ride serves as an annual “reset” for many - a stripping away of the crust that has hardened over our hearts in response to the pain in this world and the trials we face. This was evident as rider after sagger after rider stepped on stage during our Sunday church service following the Ride to share a personal reflection.
Second-time rider, Michael Johnson, who has participated in a number of organized cycling events, says what sets the Agony Ride apart is not just the exemplary service provided at each SAG station, but who is providing the service. “When you’re two hours into the Ride and things are starting to hurt, and it dawns on you that you have 22 more hours to go, it’s mentally crushing...[The students] are what makes it...[You] lifted me up and kept me positive and kept me going. You took that crushing weight off...” Our students gave of themselves continuously and found that the riders did the same. This is the beautiful illustration of the ongoing cycle of unrestrained giving that happens at the Agony Ride.
Thank you to all who sacrificed to be out in the Sierra Valley with us this year and to the thousands of sponsors from all over the world - we continue to be overwhelmed by your generosity.
(To those who were unable to attend the Sunday Service, a recording is available here.)
Our 37th Agony Ride is just around the corner! Not a cyclist? There are many other ways to get involved! From meal prep and photography to massage therapy and repairing bikes, we’d love to have you join our support and gear team! Sign up to help at agonyride.org. And sponsor a rider while you’re there!
Below, the four staff riders that comprise this year’s Team CEM share their motivation behind riding. To sponsor a rider, visit agonyride.org.
Austin Sather, Maintenance Coordinator
Mileage goal: 280 miles
The ministry of CEM is important and needed in the world today. So many people are searching for truth from so many different sources, and at CEM they are able to experience truth for maybe the first time in their lives. After doing a yearlong internship, I was able to see the value of the life on life ministry that is able to happen at Christian Encounter. Living with the students, you are able to walk through what a relationship with Christ looks like day by day and do so at a unique pace that is hard to duplicate outside of here. The Agony Ride is a way that I can continue to show love and support for our students with every lap that is completed. It is a way for me to continue to pour into their lives and encourage them as they continue to grow into the men and women that God is molding them to be.
Paxton Fitzpatrick, Assistant Director of Discipleship
Mileage goal: 230 miles
Ever since I was an intern in 2015, I knew that I wanted to be a rider in the Agony. It is one of the most unique events that I have ever been a part of. It is clear that for those 24 hours, all who are involved get to be a part of something bigger than themselves. It is a beautiful thing to see riders and support stations trying to out-serve each other. I am riding to support the students and the ministry that I get to call home. The Ranch has given me so much, and I am using this opportunity to invite as many family and friends that I can to support me. My prayer is for all of them to see the Ranch for what I know it to be through the Agony Ride.
Dave LaRash, Maintenance Assistant
Mileage goal: 244 miles
I rode my first Agony two years ago and am looking forward to riding again with that experience under my belt. Now I know all the places to put Chamois Butter, for example! I am still working at the Ranch supervising the students in their outdoor work. I get to see first hand the way God is working in each student’s life. After the Agony Ride many of the students are profoundly affected as they see so many people going through discomfort for them. Showing the students how much I care about them by expending all my energy out on the road is something that cannot be done with words. On a more selfish note, hearing the sound of the students screaming encouragement in the middle of the night when they see my light is something that may not be surpassed this side of heaven.
Nate Boyd, Executive Director
Mileage goal: 235 miles
The Agony is great in so many ways. One is very simple and obvious: it’s an opportunity for me to ask people to give money to support the students of the Ranch. Because I get to see these young people every day, I know the courageous way they’re working to overcome what’s been done to them. I know how important it is to give to them, and I want to do my part to raise up an army to stand behind them and carry them forward. As you hear many times during those 24 hours up in the Sierra Valley, they’re worth everything we can possibly give them!
The 2018 Agony Ride is July 27-28 in the Sierra Valley.
Will you consider riding in the Agony Ride this year, and bring a friend with you? We’re shooting for 100 riders, and we’re already one fourth of the way there! Need a little push to get back in the saddle? Be inspired by Agony statistics:
• This is Agony Ride #36.
• Mike Boon has ridden in all 35 Agony Rides.
• The Agony Ride generates over 20% of CEM’s annual operating budget.
• In 2016, the Ride brought in $180,000+, surpassing the previous record by $25,000.
• In 2017, the Ride brought in $194,000+, surpassing the previous record by about $14,000.
• Last year, Jonathan Palmer shattered the record for most money raised by an individual at $13,000+.
• Only 12 women have made the 300 club in Agony history. Will you be the 13th?
Will you consider riding in the Agony Ride this year, and bring a friend with you? We’re shooting for 100 riders, and we’re already one fourth of the way there! Need a little push to get back in the saddle? Maybe returning rider Don Spittler’s reflections will do just that.
Name: Don Spittler
Number of rides: 4
Most miles ridden in one ride: 266
What keeps you coming back?
I love the ministry of CEM. The first year I rode, I saw so many sweet Christians living out their faith. I saw this in the CEM staff; I saw it in the countless volunteers using their gifts to support the Agony Ride. I was humbled by the love that was there for the students and the support I received as a rider. It truly touched my heart and made it clear that I would continue to ride as long as I am able.
When is it time to get really serious about training? What does that look like for you?
I ride year round as I commute to work on my bike. As winter fades, I up my mileage from about 120+ miles a week to 250+ by late spring. Living in Sacramento allows me to ride the Sacramento River Trail to the American River Parkway. My home to Folsom Lake and back is 86 miles so I do this ride several times a month as well as several 50- 65 mile rides each week.
Describe a significant experience at the Agony.
Because of the (previous) need to have a riding partner during the night, each year I have found myself riding with someone I had not known before the ride. By evening it becomes obvious who is riding at the same pace and you just naturally team up. I have had the pleasure of meeting amazing people during the night rides. The intensity of the ride creates a real comradery that is amazing. By then you have established a goal that is obtainable. You encourage and support each other at finishing the ride and reaching that goal. It’s what has carried me through when my energy level is waning and fatigue is setting in through the last hours of the ride.
What’s your favorite thing about the Agony?
There are many things, but I suppose it would be the enthusiasm of the students that greet you at each SAG. As you approach each station, you hear them cheering in the distance. That encouragement is what draws that last bit of energy I need to make it in.
If there’s one food/drink item you could request to be at the SAGs this year, what would it be?
Peanut butter and banana sandwiches
The numbers are in. 77 riders. 16,446* miles ridden. $185,160 pledged for CEM. God’s protection was evident this year as ominous clouds broke forth with heavy rain just hours after the ride, a lightning strike igniting a nearby hillside. Temperatures were moderate throughout the ride and no major injuries were sustained. We watched our Agony community grow as seasoned riders recruited family and friends for the cause, our first-time riders equalling one-fourth of the rider total.
We’re grateful for all the time, energy, and countless resources poured into the ride by hundreds of people, and we can’t thank you enough for investing in our mission of tending lives and training leaders.
I’m sitting here with dear friends of the ministry, Craig and Nancy McAtee. This year will be Craig’s 12th year riding in the Agony and 13th as a participant. A few years ago, Craig broke his collarbone while training for the Agony, but still raised funds for CEM and came out as a sagger. Craig’s passion for Jesus coupled with his love for long-distance bike riding has made him a very effective spokesman for the Ride, raising over $45,000 for CEM. Over the years, the Agony has woven its way into the very fabric of the McAtee family. Here’s what they have to say.
Nancy: I’m not a bike rider. I don’t like competing with cars, so I don’t like training for it...But I’m a physical therapist, so I kept thinking about ways I could help out. When Craig would go, I was at home for the majority of our child-raising years. Once our kids got older, I wanted to give a little bit to the ministry because I really believe in what it’s doing for the kids... I thought, as a physical therapist, I can help out and do massage. But it was more than that, because when people didn’t need a massage I was out cheering with the kids, serving food. I could diagnose injuries and show people how to change their posture on their bikes.
BY: Zoya Lee
Former CEM intern, current CEM staff member and 3-time Agony rider!
There are seasons of my life where there is a more deliberate, a more conscious drawing near to the Lord usually brought about by a set of challenging circumstances. In this particular season, He’s also reminding me of the joy found in obedience.
As I am writing this, it is Holy Week, and I’ve been reading a devotional intended to “focus our attention on Jesus as He displays His love to the uttermost.” Monday’s text leads us to ponder what it meant for Jesus to set His face for Jerusalem. The author wrote, “Remember, when you think of Jesus’s resolution to die, that he had a nature like ours. He shrunk back from pain like we do.” I don’t know about you, but oftentimes when I think of Jesus I tend to focus more on His divinity than His humanity. Perhaps, because to consider His humanity, I’d need to put myself in His place and that’s far too painful. Because I, too, shrink back from pain. And then I remembered last year - the week leading up to the Agony Ride. On the morning before the Ride as U-Hauls were being loaded, a coupIe of students walked in on me crying. I explained that it was just my “pre-Ride cry”. What they didn’t know was that this had been a daily ritual every morning that week. I was setting my face for Jerusalem.