Editor’s note: From June 25 to Sept. 3 cyclists pedaled across Canada to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Christian Reformed Church in Canada and to raise funds for new-church plants. Of the 157 participating riders, 94 cycled the entire 7,000+ kilometer route from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Julia Tuininga, a 37-year-old mother of three from Terrace (B.C.) Christian Reformed Church, rode for nine of the 10 weeks. Here are a few excerpts from her daily trip log.
Friday, June 24
6:30 breakfast, then to the university chapel for devotions before our bike safety course. It is amazing how quickly we feel connected as a group. I find myself anxious to just get biking. I can’t believe I’m finally here.
Saturday, June 25
The Lower Mainland (84 km)
Finally we are biking. Yeah! We headed down to Jericho beach to dip our tires into the ocean. CTV was there, and we ended up being on the evening news. We had a lot of fun and made pretty good time.
Wednesday, June 29
Manning Park to Princeton (66 km)
What a beautiful day! We started with a 20km downhill run. How exhilarating. The sun was shining, and we made good time.
Every evening we meet as a big group and share stories of the day. Then we meet with our small group to go through the Pumped devotional, talk about our day, and go over the route for the next day. This has been a very good and uplifting thing to do. It is amazing how God is working in so many people’s lives, and it is good to see his majesty all around us.
Sunday, July 10
Calgary (Cochrane) A Day of Rest
Today the Calgary community hosted a wonderful celebration in Cochrane at a huge new arena. The floor of the ice rink was filled with chairs and the bleachers were also filled; our estimate would be 1,500 people or so.
Monday, July 11
Calgary to Granum (150 km)
High River CRC put on a lunch for us today. It is feels good to be supported and encouraged by CRC communities along the way. After lunch the wind picked up, so to fight it we got together in a group of 18 cyclists and did a “ride-through.”
We cycle two abreast. The right line maintains a steady speed and the left line cycles a bit faster. When you get to the front of the left line you move over to the right line and lead for about 30 seconds. As a result we still made good time.
Thursday, July 14
Medicine Hat to Gull Lake (167 km)
Today we had to cycle the most km’s that we will have to do on the entire trip. But I won’t remember this day as the longest day—but as “The Day of the Snake.” We were riding in a group of 10. Gerald was riding lead, and I was a foot behind him. Suddenly he yelled, “Snake!” He couldn’t avoid the snake so he ran right over it. It popped up, hit my front wheel, came right up by my handle bars and then bounced into the ditch. The guy behind me narrowly missed me and drove into the ditch. Not until we were done laughing did we realize that the snake was a rattler!
Monday, July 18
Regina to Belcarres
What a glorious day. We had to travel 120 km, most of it off the main route through wonderful lush farmland. We whipped it off as if it were nothing. We must be getting stronger.
Barber Al took out his clippers today, and a number of the guys buzzed their hair. Then the weigh scale came out. Although a few people have lost some weight, the majority of us seem to have put on about 5 pounds. I think they are feeding us too well, or the scale is off.
Saturday, July 30
Quetico Provincial Park to Thunder Bay (152 km)
Today we faced a biker’s worst nightmare —uphill, into the wind, cool temperature, in thunder and lightning and pouring rain. There was absolutely no place for shelter as we were in the wilderness. Close to Kashabowie there were vacant boarding room apartments for road workers. The attendant opened up the dining hall, put on coffee and tea, and allowed us to use their two dryers. She did this for free. Just another angel en route.
Wednesday, August 3
Terrace Bay to White Lake Provincial Park (140 km)
It finally happened—I had my first flat tire today. I made it over halfway across Canada, and then my tire had an intimate encounter with a staple.
Sunday, August 14
Guelph: A Day of Rest
After fighting southern Ontario traffic, we entered the arena and found it packed to the ceiling. The crowd was on its feet cheering as we, the cyclists, paraded around the arena dressed in our official purple jerseys. The celebration was incredible! We believe that over 6,000 people were there, and they were genuinely celebrating—not just being excited because they felt obligated to be.
Thursday, September 1
Sussex to Amherst (149 km)
It was a great feeling to reach the border of Nova Scotia—our last province! As we come to the last two days of cycling, people are showing up to see us end this epic journey. We hear that 340 tickets have been sold for the banquet at Pier 21 on Saturday night.
Saturday, September 3
Truro to Halifax (112 km)
Arriving at All Nations Christian Reformed Church in Halifax was very emotional. There were crowds of people lining the busy street, cheering and stopping traffic so we could turn into the church grounds.
After lunch we all shed our safety vests and cycled 8 km down to Pier 21 in our official cycling jerseys. We were a sea of purple as we cycled down to the beach and carried our bikes to the shoreline. Standing in a semicircle, we prayed the Lord’s Prayer and then all dipped our tires into the ocean together.
Having the final banquet at Pier 21 was very fitting as many of our ancestors landed there when they first came to this country. One of the most moving events was the presentation of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal to Frank Westerhof. The medal is given to Canadians who make a significant contribution to their fellow citizens, their community, or to Canada. For most of us he exemplified what this trip was all about. At the age of 73 he got up early and cycled every day without complaining. He is our hero and much deserving of the award.
Sunday, September 4
Halifax: A Day of Clean-up and Celebration
Waking up in a bed and sitting at a table again makes me feel clean and civilized. It is amazing how quickly one gets modesty and manners back.
At 10 a.m. I got a ride to the campground, where there was a bustle of activity. Bikes were being taken apart and jammed into bike boxes. The kitchen truck was being frantically cleaned, as it needed to leave immediately for New Orleans to help with relief work.
The celebration service was at 3 p.m. at the All Nations CRC. It is a unique old building with wonderful acoustics. The building was filled, even the overflow, with around 600 people.
Monday, September 5
My journey home began at 5 a.m. Halifax time. It took me 10 weeks to bike across the country, but today I flew back to Vancouver in just nine hours. Suddenly this land of ours doesn’t seem so very large.
Tuesday, September 6
As I sit in my own home with my family around me, I am overwhelmed by the amount of love and care I experienced this summer. On the tour we saw generosity poured out on us by the communities we passed through, showing us how God’s gracious hand works through people.
If I learned anything this summer it is the importance of sharing the wealth, knowledge, and talents God has lavished on me and those in our Christian Reformed community. The thought that we are no longer an immigrant church that needs aid from friends and neighbours sticks with me. We now need to be the friends and neighbours, welcoming and aiding others. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to be part of this church-unifying trip.