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Ode to the Bench Warmer

Jeff Raymond on January 15, 2012 Comments (5)

Creative people have to have “think time”.  I need to download my brain in a location where I do not see other projects around, and that tends to happen in one of two places – in the shower and on my bike.  Bicycle that is.  While riding the other day, I got thinking about the fact that most of those we have built friendships with have happened in recent years.  Most of you only know the missions / ministry side of me.  

Sports plays a key role in my pre-ABWE life.  Professionally, much of my photography career was covering sporting events – everything from Bowling to the Rose Bowl.  Most of that work was at the NCAA level, working for university Sports Information Departments.  They are the ones producing game programs, player bios and press releases.  It always amazed me how a sports statistician can make any player sound impressive.  With star players, no problem, but take a bench warmer and you have to come up with something like, “ This guy has the highest batting average in the league…against left-handed pitchers, on Tuesdays, when the temperature is between 67-69 degrees.”  

My sports were not baseball and football, but speed skating (roller) and cycling.  After a successful career going really fast in circles on skates, I’ve been content to go at a more sane pace in a straight line on a bike.  

As with any sport, players are goal-driven.   Over the years, most of my goals have revolved around biking many miles.  In the mid-1990’s I’d pedaled across America twice as part of a bicycling ministry.  In the past couple of years, however, the achievements are not so notable.   With ministry and family responsibilities, rides are short and my fitness level goes up and down like a yo-yo.  Our busy travel schedule doesn’t help matters either as there’s little time to ride.  

Even with all that, 2011 did leave a mark in my personal record book – in the category of “Most Different States Ridden In.”  Not long rides.  Not frequent rides, but at some point in 2011 I had occasion to pedal in 18 different states.  The best I’d ever done on a cross-America ride is 13.  So, as I look ahead to 2012, it’s doubtful that I’ll break any high mileage marks.   But maybe I’ll be content to be the “bench warmer” who impressively outsprinted the most bike-chasing dogs of his career.


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  1. Florence Johnson February 3, 2012

    Hi Jeff and Becky! Enjoyed this post a lot! It's nice and interesting to get to know you in a different way! Love to the kids and keep cycling!;) Flo

  2. Donna Ritchie February 11, 2012

    Love this post! Thank you for taking the time. Congrats on the 18-state record :-)

  3. Margo Barfell February 11, 2012

    Greetings, Jeff and Becky. Thank-you for sharing this as we were not aware of this part of your life, Jeff. Trust that God gives you many more opportunities to ride. Dick and Margo Barfell

  4. Pam Purrington February 13, 2012

    Jeff, this was fun to read. Especially since I have seen you ride that bike up the "hill" to ABWE many times in the past!

  5. Fran Zabawa February 26, 2012

    We bench warmers are as important as the 'stars'. Great article Jeff - Looking forward to seeing you and the family next week!

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