As 2008 gave way to 2009, a Sea to Sea bike tour was taking place in the southern hemisphere.
Sea to Sea Nicaragua brought together a team of 18 Canadians, six Americans, and four Nicaraguans. The team started pedaling on Dec. 29 in the North Atlantic coast city of Puerto Cabezas. When they dipped their tires into the Pacific Ocean on Jan. 6, they had cycled more than 400 miles (650 km).
Stacey Collie, a member of Thunder Bay (Ont.) Christian Reformed Church, was one of the younger cyclists in a group that ranged in age from 14 to 63. "The whole trip was a challenge in every way possible," said Collie. Steep hills and gravel roads embedded with rocks proved more challenging than any of the cyclists anticipated.
Sea to Sea Nicaragua was organized by the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) and its local partner in Nicaragua, Acción Médica Cristiana. The goal was to raise money to buy seeds for the Miskito farmers in Nicaragua, many of whom lost homes and crops when Hurricane Felix swept through in 2007.
The cyclists raised nearly $57,000. In a special arrangement with the Canadian FoodGrains Bank, the money was matched 4:1 by the Canadian government for a total of $285,000.
Alie Beghuis, a member of Community CRC in Dixon’s Corners, Ontario, cycled with her husband, Wim. "The temperature was a constant 28 to 30 degrees C [82 to 86 F]," she said. "The first days were steep inclines and incredibly rough roads with holes, rocks, and mud. We shared the road with cows, horses, pigs, and chickens."
A support team accompanied the cyclists to supply them with food and water along the way. Evening accommodations were sparse and rugged, without water or electricity, but even that couldn't dampen the cyclists' enthusiasm.
"Biking for a cause is super rewarding" said Calvin Dentz. Dentz and his wife, Cathy, also members of the Dixon's Corners church, were inspired to join the tour when presented with the challenge by visiting CRWRC missionary Mark Vanderwees. Vanderwees coordinated the tour and cycled with his 15-year-old son, Jesse.
The cyclists agreed that the most holy moment of the tour was a Sunday evening communion service at which they shared Gatorade and tortillas.