As the Sea to Sea cross-continent bicycle tour passed through Ontario, Rev. Jake Kuipers was thrilled to be cycling through his home province, especially since he came close to not making it at all.
Kuipers was cycling in what was billed as the largest-ever cross-continental bike tour, starting in California and ending nine weeks later in New York City. Previous bicycle tours involving the Christian Reformed community were in 2005 (cross-Canada) and 2008 (across the U.S. and Canada.)
It was in Colorado that Kuipers, who also cycled the 2008 tour, began struggling. “I just couldn’t get my wind,” he said. “But I kept going to get through the day.”
That night he visited the tour nurse. When she didn’t like what she saw, she sent him to the nearest medical facility. Doctors immediately arranged for Kuipers to be airlifted to Aurora, Colo. “A whole cardiac team was waiting for me there,” Kuipers said, “and they whisked me off to surgery.”
Afterward Kuipers, who is in his early 60s, learned that the surgeons had found one of the arteries to his heart 70 percent blocked and another 90 percent blocked. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I’m in great shape.”
His good physical condition is probably what saved him, according to the doctor. He wasn’t allowed to cycle at all for a week, and then he had to take it slow to build up to cycling full days. By the time the tour reached Grand Rapids, Mich., he was back to full strength.
“They told me it was a miracle that I wasn’t found dead by the side of the road. So I’m so thrilled to be here.”
The tour ended on August 24 on Staten Island.