I am committed to ride in the Sea to Sea 2008 Bike Tour to break some stereotypes. If you look at people associated with extreme sports you see someone fit, muscular, young, and usually male. I want to set a new example—one that recognizes a God who creates all of us to do things that are not expected of us by worldly standards.
You see, I’ve always been the “chubby kid”—the one who wasn’t good at sports, the one who was told what I could and could not do.
But as I grow older, I am discovering that my size does not determine my abilities. I have been blessed with strong arms and legs that allow me to hike, cycle, and climb. My doctor told me that I have the vital stats of an athlete. You wouldn’t know that by looking at my size 16 body. I understand that I am the exception, which, I guess, makes my body exceptional. What’s not to love about that?
More important, Sea to Sea is not just about me going beyond my physical and mental comfort zones. Sea to Sea is about being aware that the bike I ride is worth a few months’ salary to some people; that my helmet would buy tuition, books, and a uniform for some child to go to school for a year; that I don’t have to worry about whether the water in my bottle is safe to drink; that by completing this ride someone else can have a chance at a better standard of living.
I can’t change the whole world, but I can make a difference in someone else’s world.
—Gayle Harrison, 39, lives in London, Ontario and attends First Christian Reformed Church, London.
Since getting serious about training for triathlons a few years ago, I’ve really embraced cycling. It’s the thing I’d rather be doing than anything else.
This coming summer poses a unique opportunity for me as I’ve got a gap between my undergraduate studies and the beginning of graduate school, and an epic bike ride is the ideal way to fill it.
Of course this trip is about more than simply good timing or even about a physical challenge. I’m looking forward to being part of an intergenerational community with a purpose.
For four years I’ve been involved with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF), a Christian student group on campus. It’s a place where I have been challenged time and again to step deeper into faith and to pour investment into God’s kingdom. The IVCF community forms a church on campus.
I’ve realized, though, that I’m missing out on the richness of a wider church community comprised of children, parents, and seniors. While it is certainly possible to be stretched and to grow in a setting of peers, there are significant benefits to being part of a multigenerational group of believers.
So I’m anticipating a great summer and the opportunity to talk, ride, and live with all those that are part of the Sea to Sea tour and those we meet along the way.
—Josh Krabbe, 21, is a fourth-year engineering student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. He is a member of First Christian Reformed Church, Calgary, Alberta.
My interest in cycling—and hence my involvement with the Sea to Sea Bike Tour—started about 28 years ago. That’s when a teen suggested that our youth group go on a bike trip—not just an around-the-block bike trip, but a week-long adventure.
As youth leader, I was supposed to go along even though I hadn’t ridden more than five miles in the past 10 years. I loved it. It became the first of many wonderful bike trips, and riding was now in my blood.
When the Sea to Sea brochure crossed my desk, my first inclination was to toss it away. How could I possibly take nine weeks off as pastor of my church? How would I raise $10,000, and how would I ever get over the Rocky Mountains?
But what may seem insurmountable to us is no problem to God. My first sabbatical in 29 years solved the first problem, and sending letters to friends and family holds promise for the second. I am still working on my training for the mountains.
As a pastor, one of the unique opportunities I have for this trip is serving as a chaplain. I’ll help shepherd a mobile congregation of more than 100 healthy, highly motivated Christians.
The greatest challenge will be keeping our focus on the mission, which is to help the poor. If riders, sponsors, and everyone reading this would seek this mission first, then everything else will fall into place.
—Len Riemersma, 53, is pastor of Willard (Ohio) Christian Reformed Church.