Le Tour

Pull out your Websters Dictionary, blow the dust off the cover, open it up, and look up the word “epic”. Is there an example of the word being used while describing the Tour de France? Or a picture of Lance Armstrong and Eddy Merckx? Yeah, there isn’t in my dictionary either. But there should be.

In it’s 96th running, the Tour de France has finished the 9th stage, 21 in all, with Lance Armstrong sitting comfortably in 3rd, 8 seconds behind the leader. This race has captivated my attention and interest for a long time. The history, passion, rivalry, fans, scenery, and variation of the stages. I love watching the climbs through the Alps, where thousands of fans line the streets to cheer on the riders. Here is a bold statement, but I believe that the most crazy and intense fans are those of the Tour de France. I’d say soccer fans come in a close second. With no guard rail or fence, fans from across the world come to dress up, wave huge flags, draw all over the roads, and risk their lives to cheer on their favorite riders and countrymen. Even after camping out for days on the side of the road, fans will risk their lives by running alongside riders and through auto traffic. They’re nuts. But I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to do the same.

Like vinegar moving into oil, the riders are engulfed by fans as onlookers move out of the way at the last second. So much passion, so much emotion, the dedication and devotion that these fans pour out as they support the cyclists.

As I’ve been running, I’ve dreamed of these moments. Where somewhere between here and there, hundreds of people will stumble out of the pines along the road and start cheering. Close in around us as we run, enough to high five us and yell cheers. Lead and follow vehicles capture us with cameras as a hellicopter hovers overhead to stream live video around the world. I mean, they don’t have to have air horns, flags, signs, or be in full body paint. Okay maybe a few Zac and Paul flags and an air horn or two, but only to welcome and cheer us on. Is that too much to ask for? But I open my eyes and all I see is an empty road that stretches up hills and around corners. Cars zoom past and the familiar smell of Christmas looms in the air with countless pines surrounding the pavement. Where the only thing lining the road is trees, thick brush, mile markers, fallen branches, leaves, and road kill.

In that crowd, the ones who line the road for us, I don’t see Europeans that resemble the die hard fans of the Tour de France. I see my family. My friends, old and new. I see my relatives and people that I didn’t even know knew about my journey. I see the families that have opened up their doors, homes, and hearts to us. All of them, lining our path single file smiling. Each one holding a story of how we have touched and inspired them. I see all of our supporters and people we have met along the way. There’s the lady who worked at the storage facility. The guy riding for dog cancer research. The hippies who offered us a free 6 pack. The surfer who invented the word gnarcore. The European tourists who take photos of us from their cars. And so many others. I see you.

The point is that sometimes we all focus on how much is still ahead of us in life, and in our case our journey. And how hopeless the future may seem while going into the unknown. How lonley it feels. A seemingly empty path can become disheartening. But looking to where we have come from, where all of us have started and those that are for us, and were there with us along the way, makes where we are going so much more worth the fight to get there. Thanks for cheering for us and standing along the road as our fans.

Oregon has been an amazing chapter in our run so far. In Brookings with the Browns, our rest day was spent making armor, shields, swords, helmets, and anything else medieval out of cardboard with the kids. We even got to swim in the river where us Arizonians stool out like a sore thumb. Bobbing up and down trying to avoid the cold waters, as if we could. When we had enough, the warm sun dried us as we skipped rocks until a black lab started springing into the water each time to receive the rock and bring it back. The owners didn’t like this. We ended off our day on the coast searching tide pools for sea creatures as the sun dipped below the ocean.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the true impact we have on people or who we have impacted. Maybe at times its just to share moments and time with them. Making the people we encounter welcomed and loved. But on the beach that night, Jordin, who is 10, created a large message in the sand that really encouraged me. A seemingly small guesture spoke greatly. “I Hope Zac Walberer Comes Again”. It was so fun getting to play with and love on those kids.

Further up the coast we had other opportunities to spread our message and experience Oregon. We even got the chance to be interviewed for the Curry County Reporter in Gold Beach. Thanks Mike! Our hosts in Port Orford took us to the Curry Countyn Fair where we had a lot of fun people watching and meeting some interesting individuals. As I tried to befriend a mute ninja, Paul got the chance to play
a rhythm instrumet with a Scottish band. To top off the evening, back at the house, we had taquitos made from bear. Tastes like… well… bear.

Z

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11 thoughts on “Le Tour

  1. Guys, please know how proud we are of you, and how you are representing Jesus in this lonely world. We are proud of your stamina, and your strength, your endurance, and your drive. But we are even more so proud of your hearts. You have a heart for the lost, and you’re going out into the world seeking them for Jesus…and loving people in the process. Keep going, and be encouraged that even though you’re not receiving much right now in the way of accolaides of man, so many of us are all cheering you on in Spirit! You’re in our prayers, and we’re so excited to watch and read your progress. Keep up the great run!

  2. I agree with Doris! We are cheering you on in prayer and spirit… you are making an impact and you are using your gifts to glorify our wonderful LORD. “But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory and the One who lifts my head.” Ps 3:3 Keep looking up!
    You are loved!

  3. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU…..HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU…..HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR Z A C H A R Y……….HAPPY BIRHTDAY TO YOU!!! (in the best voice you can hear in your head :)). Did you ever think that on your 22nd bday you would be insanely running to a place you could have actually driven to? ;0. We have been talking all week about you, how we will miss you on your bday, how incredibly proud we are of you, what great stories you will have for us and the walberers to come….and how so in the center of God’s hand you and Paul really must be! What an incredible man God has fashioned you into Zack! Your obedience has blessed more people that I’m sure you ever dreamed was possible.
    So….think about cake and ice cream (your favorite kind of course)…..close your eyes and remember all the bdays gone past of us hovering around loving on you, and we will have a big celebration when you return. We love you, we miss you, we are soooo proud of you and we are praying for you.
    p.s. should we get you running gear for you bday ;)???? I kill myself sometimes 🙂

  4. Happpppy birthday son. You make me proud.You make me get moisture on my face.I luv reading your blogs.I wish we were there today in person but we are in thoughts.Who would have thought 22 yrs ago a little baby boy was born into this world to run up the coast and touch others.Iam proud to call you my son.HAPPPY BIRTHDAY

  5. Dear Zac, HAPPY #22 BIRTHDAY!!!! My family started a new tradition this year. Adear family moved from Phoenix to Seattle last year. The 3 children are our “grandchildren”. So on their birthday we have a celebration here with cake and icecream in their honor. Tonight my daughter Rebecca and I are going out with friends to the Compass Room restaurant for desert so we will eat part of the goodies in your honor. So enjoy reading your posts and to see God at work in your heart and His protection for you. I have been blessed as I have “traveled” with you. Praying for you both, Blanche Burnham

  6. Happy Birthday Zac:

    This sure will be a BDay that you’ll never forget!
    Thankyou for how you both have done such a great job in keeping us informed. It makes us feel like we’re running along side of you. Yes, we agree with your friends that you should consider writing a book. We will continue to pray for your safety, and FUN and rest. We hope to see you both when you get back home.

    Gary and Nancy Dodd

  7. Hey Paul & Zac,
    We’re praying for you every day! So proud of your efforts to bring honor and glory to our wonderful Savior and King! Happy Birthday Zac.
    Is 40:29 “The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

    Under His Grace,
    Jack & Kris Pitrat

  8. Zac, sorry I missed your birthday! Enjoy reading/hearing about your adventures! Your last blog entry spoke to my heart. May God continue to grant you strength and many unexpected blessings!

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