This weBLOG contains writings and comments about all aspects of this adventure. Starting from early on in the application stages I'll keep comments here regarding fundraising, training, and ultimately the bike ride itself. It won't all be pretty: $10 000 is an enormous fundraising goal, 9 weeks on a bike is not a walk in the park, and living with a bunch of other crazy cyclists for 2 months is likely to generate some stories.
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Mon Sep 15, 2008
The tour actually seems over
I gave a presentation at my sponsoring church, River Park CRC, in Calgary Alberta on Sunday morning. I think it went well, plenty of people thanked me for sharing so that's nice. It came in two parts, first me having a bit of time to talk and then during the offering I had a few ppt slides to show what day-to-day life was like while on the road. I thought I had covered the bases pretty well with the slides but when watching them during the service I realized it looked like I was generally riding with a group of about 10 people. Not quite the case, the average for the summer was probably closer to a group of 2.7 considering how often I rode alone of with just one other person.
At any rate, driving back north to Edmonton that afternoon it really started to seem like the Sea-to-Sea bike tour was part of the past. Something it hadn't felt like before. It was more along the lines of "just finished" even two weeks later.
I've included here what I said (or at least what I thought/planned I was going to say) during my 7 minute slot.
Last summer the news of the 2008 Sea to Sea bike tour made its way into my email inbox. I was intrigued by the idea of getting on a bike and heading out across north America. It would be a summer of riding every day - a pretty serious challenge that I felt like I’d like to tackle, I would have the opportunity to live with a group of other people, other cyclists and other Christians. It was going to be good. The tour also had tied up in it the idea that we’d raise a bunch of money, that we hoped to raise awareness and funds to combat poverty. I was happy to have the issue of poverty along for the ride. It gave the trip a real purpose and for that I was grateful.
Arriving in Seattle - the summer’s ride started to play itself out - after so many months of anticipation it was living up to every expectation. Right away on Day 2 we climbed more than 5000 feet of elevation and it really felt like we were thrown headfirst into the adventure. I made great friends from all over Canada and the States and we were really soaking up the riding aspect of the summer. We found ourselves putting in extra miles for the pure joy of riding our bikes.
Early on it was really true however that the issue of poverty wasn’t doing much more than being “along for the ride”. While I can’t speak on behalf of every rider, the general sentiment around camp was just “Bike Bike Bike Bike Bike”.
It took more than 2 weeks for things to begin to shift. Answering the question “Why in the world am I biking across the country?” was something I found myself doing as I tackled 100 degree Fahrenheit weather and miles upon miles of sagebrush. The more times I answered the question while talking with someone the more I began to really identify with my answer. “We’re riding in support of the poor. We’ve been raising funds for organizations to tackle some of the underlying causes that keep people who are poor trapped in cycles of poverty. There are 150 cyclists on the road today from all over North America who are doing the same thing because it’s something we believe in. - Poverty and injustice cannot go unaddressed.”
I was riding by myself into Salt Lake City on one Saturday morning and got passed by a local cyclist out for a ride by himself. I decided to catch up with him and we spent the next 5 miles talking - about the cycling community in Salt Lake City, about the bike ride I was on and about poverty. Leaving Salt Lake City we had a huge hill to climb and I had spent a lot of that day’s energy just trying to keep up with this local. The Sea-to-Sea rider who I had joined still had fresh legs and left me behind on the hill. Normally I would have felt lousy to get dropped right at the start of a 10 mile ascent but I didn’t care. That conversation had been worth it.
I continued to ride far more than necessary for the next few weeks, tacking on trips up ski hills and over mountains, we took roundabout ways across Nebraska and spent a portion of a day lost in Chicago. I spent more and more time each week talking to locals in coffee shops, restaurants and gas stations about why we were riding our bikes across the country. We were on the biggest newscast in Chicago one evening and the next day it seemed as though everyone we met along the road wanted to stop and chat for a bit. The reasoning behind our ride was becoming more and more important, although in reality I hadn’t quite made the shift in my head, poverty was still “along for the ride”.
I was riding another Saturday morning, the day we were to ride into Grand Rapids, with a group of guys intent on going quick. We were flying down the road and I wound up on the pavement. I had a few parts of my body bleeding, my helmet had a pretty good crack in it and my right shoulder didn’t look quite the same as my left. I was off to the hospital in a vehicle for an X-Ray and suddenly the reality set in that I wasn’t going to have biked every inch from Sea to Sea.
With the conclusion that I hadn’t broken my shoulder and I had a separation rather than a full blown dislocation I was allowed to ride the following Monday. I could continue but I was resigning myself to a stretch of 40 kilometers in west Michigan, I wouldn’t ride every inch of the tour. I would be struggling to finish the ride each day and I would be one of the people around camp needing a helping hand more often than I would be able to offer one.
I finally had priority number one nailed down and it wasn’t going for a bike ride. It was participating in the tour, it was being a part of the wave of attention that swept across Southern Ontario the next week and onwards to New York City. Having been part of a huge fundraising effort and now participating in a cross country awareness event was more important than the cycling. It was the participation not the peddling of the bike that was my response to God’s call
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked
As the tour began to come to a close, my shoulder became a bit less of an obstacle. I still had a few fantastic days on the bike but they were just bonus. My perspective had changed and I was excited to have the opportunity to continue Christ’s work when the tour wrapped up. My favorite discussions became not “bike bike bike” but what are the ways the tour had changed how us as cyclists are going to think and live.
Finally I want to say thank you to this church. I want to thank you for your prayers for my safety this summer, and your prayers that I would be challenged and grow. I also want to thank all of you who sent encouragement notes my way at some point during those 9 weeks. I also want to thank those of you who contributed towards the fundraising of the bike tour, River Park Church made a big impact on the $15 400 raised towards my goal. The final tally from the summer isn’t exactly complete but between all of the riders it’s somewhere near 2.2 million.