The 2008 Sea to Sea bicycle tour launched Monday, June 30, as 144 cyclists pedaled off under sunny skies from Golden Beach Park in Seattle, Wash.
The cyclists and support staff were upheld by the prayers of 450 friends and family who gathered at a worship rally the day before at the University of Washington.
“I’m new into road biking. I’m just going in headfirst. I hope to make memories that I’m going to tell my grandkids,” said Jonathon Elzinga, 22, from Edmonton, Alberta.
“I don’t fit the profile; I’m not a serious cyclist,” said Gayle Harrison, 40, from London, Ontario. “I’m making a statement that you don’t have to be a specific body shape to do amazing things.”
Marc Faasse, 61, from Jenison, Mich., is a retired police officer of 29 years. “I have a thing for helping people,” he said. “My wife and I have done volunteer work for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, and this dovetails nicely with that.”
Each cyclist was asked to raise between $4,000 and $10,000 to support new and ongoing programs to alleviate poverty in communities in North America and around the world.
As the cyclists lined up on the beach, Rev. Leonard Riemersma, tour chaplain and cyclist from Willard, Ohio, led the group in the Lord’s Prayer.
Then, amid shouts and cheers, the cyclists stepped back and dipped their rear tires into Puget Sound.
Rev. Jerry Dykstra, executive director of the Christian Reformed Church, raised his hands and blessed them.
There are 220 cyclists taking part in the tour, 127 of them riding the entire distance of 3,881 miles (6,246 km) from Seattle to Jersey City, N.J.
Follow the tour at www.seatosea.org.