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If God speaks to pro cyclists, He does so in a deserted hotel bar.
It’s the afternoon before the 2017 Amgen Tour of California and the lobby of the DoubleTree hotel in downtown Sacramento buzzes with manic energy. Team mechanics rush through the sliding doors carrying bike frames in need of cables and housing; directors pace about thumbing out text messages; riders slouch in pleather chairs, staring at laptop screens.
Scene - Group - Riders - Lobby - Bar
Amid the scene, a group of eight riders gather near the lobby bar and exchange hugs, greeting each other like old friends at a reunion. Veteran rider Ben King joins the group, as does Evan Huffman and Greg Daniel. One by one, they slip out of the room, walk down a hall, and into the silent back corner of the hotel’s empty bar. The conversation simmers, and the riders sit in silence.
Then they begin to pray.
Riders - Safety - Health - Teammates - Members
The riders pray for their safety and they pray for good health. They pray for their teammates. They pray for each other, as though they were members of a family.
“When you’re talking about your faith and your personal spiritual journey, it requires a certain level of vulnerability,” King says about the meeting. “We all know each other on a different level, and every [meeting] we get to go deeper.”
Prayer - Session - Meeting - Ministry - Athletes
The prayer session is another meeting of the cycling-centric ministry of Athletes In Action, the national Christian sports group that was founded nearly half a century ago. AIA’s cycling ministry is just five years old, launched in 2012 by Todd Henriksen, himself a talented racer whose pro career ended just shy of the European peloton. Henriksen and his co-chaplain, Brian Firle, crisscross the country during the season, holding prayer sessions for cyclists on the eves of the country’s largest races.
The meetings serve as a rare opportunity for riders to...
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