On Aug. 7, 2017, Central Indiana Youth for Christ board member Michael Robertson was slowly leaving his driveway on a motorcycle when the front wheel detached from the vehicle, causing him to fall off the motorcycle and land on his legs and one foot.
Robertson broke his tibia and fibula and the pressure of the fall caused his foot to bend backward and rotate in a 360-degree motion.
Robertson, now 58, needed three surgeries and took him about two years to fully rehab as plates that were put in both bones were not removed until 2019.
During his recovery, Robertson needed to relearn how to walk. But now that he has fully recovered, he was able to ride his bicycle this summer through most of the northern half of the United States.
Starting on July 9, he biked 3,814 miles over 34 days, passing through a total of 14 states.
“God called me to go on this trip and God provides us a life, and we have a choice to engage in it or not,” said Robertson, a Presbyterian who attends Zionsville Presbyterian Church located in Zionsville, Indiana, near his home north of Indianapolis.
“I hope that when people hear that a 58-year-old guy rode across the U.S., it will inspire them to know that they can do incredible things too.”
Robertson, an accountant in his day job and a volunteer with the youth ministry, was among 27 others who went on the bike ride.
Most of them, he said, were passionate bicyclists working to accomplish their personal biking goals. The bike trip was coordinated by Pacific Atlantic Cycling Tours, a group that organizes bike rides across the U.S.
Robertson said he went on the bike trip across northern states to answer what he believed was a calling from God, to enjoy nature, sightsee and his personal goal of increasing his stamina and endurance since the motorcycle accident.
As a three-year chairperson for Youth For Christ of Central Indiana's board of directors, Robertson also went on the bike ride to connect with Youth For Christ staff members from other chapters in different states to provide and receive emotional support.
Youth For Christ (YFC) is a Christian organization that has 140 chapters internationally. The organization works with the local Church and other like-minded partners to raise lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to the word of God, passion for sharing the love of Christ and commitment to social involvement.
As a board member, Robertson oversees the operations of his YFC chapter in Indiana and assists with financial budgeting decisions.
“Being a board member for YFC isn’t the most glamorous thing because sometimes we have to sit through boring meetings, and we have to be in the background helping run operations so that those who are the ministerial staff can keep working with youth,” he said. “This trip gave me the opportunity to meet with other people who do the same volunteer work that I do for Youth For Christ. We were able to talk about our work challenges, relate with one another and comfort each other.”
“Satan has a way of making people think that they are the only one doing something and going through something,” he added. “Satan plays with your mind in this way to make you think you’re isolated. And sometimes, it’s hard to be the light. And so, the community helped me. Meeting other board members from Youth For Christ helped me to know I’m not alone in my volunteer work.”
To prepare for the bike ride, Robertson went through several weeks of training. During the preparation time, he lost 15 pounds and completed a total of 600 miles. During his passage across the 14 states, he lost an additional 5 pounds.
During each day of the trip, Robertson rode a total of five to eight hours. Every 30 miles, he took breaks at rest stops to drink water and apply sunscreen.
He said that staying motivated during the bike ride involved a specific mindset because, in certain states, his foot and leg began to hurt while crossing over mountainous terrain.
“I couldn’t view the ride as traveling across states, but instead, I had to focus on breaking down the ride and just focusing on covering each set of 30 miles,” he said. “When a student starts school, it’s better that they focus on achieving the goal of attending class each day, rather than thinking about how far away graduation is. I did the same thing for the bike ride because focusing on small goals within a bigger goal is always a helpful way to stay motivated and to eventually reach the end goal.”