Monday, September 1, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The end and the beginning

After an awesome parade led by three different police escort teams, we arrived at Liberty State Park around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 30.  While traveling through the city streets of Jersey City, police cruisers leap-frogged from one intersection to the next, with sirens blaring, alongside our two-block long entourage.   Two young boys on bicycles slipped into the line and stuck with us until the end!  They were grinning from ear to ear, and many of us cyclists greeted them warmly.    It seemed so appropriate to me that the some from the highways and byways had  been brought aboard for the 'glory ride.'  They didn't have the helmets, the gloves, the jerseys, the spandex, or the fancy bikes, but they were thrilled to be caught up in this wave of excitement.  After 30 minutes of trying to stay 'tight' - tighter than we ever had to be on the tour - we finally saw the Statue of Liberty in the distance. We still had about 20 minutes more of cycling down a very long bike trail/board walk before we got close to the water and the cheering crowds.  Among the throngs of friends, family and onlookers, we saw our friends George and Pam Arwady.  What a surprise!  George is the publisher of the Newark Star Ledger and had a photographer on duty for the tire-dipping ceremony, which involved a few words from the chaplain, saying the Lord's Prayer, and then slowly walking toward the water, where a sailboat with a big sign "New City Kids welcome Sea to Sea cyclists - Congratulations!"  Trevor Rubingh is the pastor of this church which offers a lot of support for the youth in the community, including teaching youth how to sail!    After about 20 minutes of wild cheering, jumping in the water, etc (by the younger cyclists) all the bicycles were put up on big trucks, we boarded buses and all went to the Eastern Christian Middle School where most would be sleeping that night.  After quick showers,  we were bused again to Cedar Hill CRC for the closing dinner and banquet.  Then we claimed our van (which was driven by Cindy Kuperus from to Cedar Hill from New City Kids Church - it was there because Kyle Sandison drove it from Michigan to NJ earlier in August) and followed our hosts back to Eastern Chr. to pick up our bikes as well as Claire and Hank's and then to the place where we'd sleep that night. 

Thanks to Gordon and Shirley Kuipers of Cedar Hill CRC for their hospitality on Saturday evening and Sunday morning and for escorting us from their home in North Haledon almost to the front door of Pompton Plains RCA by 8:30 a.m. Sunday. We wanted to attend the 8:30 a.m. outdoor service because we knew that Rich's brother Andy would be preaching there that Sunday.  He had served at Pompton Plains RCA for over 20 years until his retirement a few years ago.  His wife Mae, our sister-in-law, was playing the keyboard and Andy  preached from the passages II Kings 4:42-44 and Matthew 14:13-21 "I Need a Miracle" and made three points: 1. God is a God of abundance, 2. There are times however when we do feel trapped, and 3. We sometimes need to 'BE' the miracle.   It was during that last point when Andy asked us to stand - the two people in yellow shirts, one of whom "looks a lot like me."   He talked about what we had done as part of the Sea to Sea bike tour.  He pulled out a few pages of printed material from the Sea to Sea website and told about the purpose of the tour in very cohesive terms - specifically reading from the description of what Partners Worldwide's indigenous development model.  He suggested that people may want to be a part of making a miracle happen by supporting the Sea to Sea goals.   After the service we handed out bracelets and people gave us money.  We collected $420 in cash and checks.  Thanks, Andy and Pompton Plains.  

Friday, August 29, 2008

Catching up at our host's home

Friday evening at 10:45 p.m. and Rich and I, Jake Prins, and Andy Heemstra are staying at the quaint Dutch architecture home of Sam and Dottie (daughter of Uncle Owen and Aunt Honey) Valkema in Sussex, NJ. I rode up and down mountains in Pennsylvania and New Jersey today. Rich almost completed the whole day of cycling, but when he was ready to quit before riding up to High Point in New Jersey, I said I wanted to finish it, so I rode with Paul Buth and one other guy from Carbondale, Penn. through the busy city streets before getting on Route 23 heading for the highest point in New Jersey before sailing down the mountain to get to Sussex. Had supper in the Sussex Christian School gym, where we also had a very long peloton meeting from 7:30 to almost 9 p.m. After that we were assigned to our host families - those of us who signed up to be billeted. Claire had recommended we sign up to be with the Valkema's and we're very happy that we did. It's wonderful to meet the owner of the Holland American Bakery that provided all the buns for the supper this evening!

Thursday, August 28, 2008
We had a wonderful rest at the Gelders and were excited for the day, knowing it would be shorter and less hilly. On a particularly long down-hill ride on US 11 we caught up with a group led by a recumbent bike and the drafting was lovely. When we got to the end of that long (26 mile) section, Rich and I pulled ahead, little aware what we were in for after an awesome view of a reinforced concrete bridge with a train on the top. Shortly after that a climb began that beat all climbs. Rich walked many of the slopes – I tried to bike up but a couple times was torn between stopping out of utter exhaustion or keep going because I was afraid I couldn’t get my clips out of the pedals I’d fall over backwards if I stopped. We made it though, and are in a beautiful state park – Lackawanna. We’re signing up for billets (hosts) for tomorrow and Saturday evenings.

Supper was a medley of dishes from chili with cheese and chips, tossed salad, pasta salad, scalloped potatoes, potato salad, sliced bell peppers, bread, peanut butter, mixed fruit with whipped topping (until that ran out), coffee, hot chocolate, milk, tea, and that’s about it. This was the last supper to be prepared and presented from the food truck as tomorrow’s supper will be offered by the Sussex CRC and the last night’s meal will be a banquet in a church I can’t recall right now. After supper we sat around chatting until peloton. I took some pictures of the crosses made by Troy and the other inmates in Chippewa. One man – from Haven CRC, Holland, who was wearing a blue/yellow cross on the zipper pull of his Sea to Sea sweat shirt, said, after I told him that I’d figured today it would take 70 revolutions a minute for about 12 hours to equal the number of inmates in Michigan’s prisons (over 50,000), that “one of those inmates killed my son.” He explained that his 36-yr. old son was killed in a car accident caused by a drugged, drunk driver up in Cadillac on Labor Day 4 years ago. The son’s wife of exactly 6 months was in the car but not badly hurt. The father has a picture of this son on his bicycle and is doing this ride for many reasons, but one is in memory of his son. Here we are, riding in lieu of our son being able to ride, hoping that some day he will be able to feel the excitement of the open road, and another couple knows that their son’s chance to do so, in this life, is over.

Peloton was a little sad – lots of announcements, especially about the last day’s logistics (three different police escorts for the last 10 miles because we will be in three different municipalities), when to take the group photo, that we can billet the last two nights, and can’t tent outdoors at Eastern Christian High School, and, of course, the flat tire count, the falls/spills count, and the weather report. Then we had a few people (the Dragts, a young lady, and a man) give impressions of the tour, and because it was starting to sprinkle, we hurried into a big circle for the final communion service. Bowls of bread and juice were passed around and people were instructed to say, “The body of Christ broken for you” or “The blood of Christ shed for you” when passing to the next person. Two flutes played “Eat this bread,” one other song, and “How Great Thour Art” during the communion, and at the very end, chaplain Len Riemersma prayed and we sang “Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow.” We scattered to our tents and then it really started to rain. Now it is 4 a.m. and perfectly dry and cool. The weather has been so comfortable. We have been blessed.

Wednesday, August 27. Being on sweep duty meant that we had to be at the kitchen truck by 5:30 a.m. and help set up breakfast food, as well as fixin’s for lunch. The egg salad was great and so I made a couple sandwiches and we ate them about 2 hours after leaving at 8 a.m. which is a lot later than usual. We left with Claire who was also on sweep team, but she quickly pulled ahead. Rich’s bike computer wasn’t working very well so we stopped at a bike shop in Ithaca to have it checked. With a little spray on the contacts it was working again.

It was a hard ride – in my estimation anyway. Rich and I stopped frequently because of we were tired and there were a lot of hills – long, steep hills. We ended up arriving at the Valley CRC in Binghamton, NY at about 5 p.m. Jan Gelder took us to pick up some of our clothes from the gear truck and then to their house where we took showers and got ready for the supper of chicken or pork spiedies on Italian bread, salt potatoes, acini di pepe salad, baked beans, brownies and ice cream, milk, coffee, and ice water. It was a great supper preceded by a mediation by Pastor Gelder in which he used his inspired volume post-surgical lung expander, pneumonia-prevention device to explain that the breathing-in that we do when we see God’s creation and get to know God’s children is essential to our ability to breath-out the good works and spread the good news.

Tuesday evening, August 26. The highlights of the day were being interviewed by a television crew, and stopping at a farm 15 miles south of the East Palmyra CRC which provided lunch for the cyclists. It was a gorgeous set-up with tents and barbeque and salads and chips and home-baked cookies and bars for dessert. We saw my aunt and uncle (Grace and Ralph Hutt), also some of Rich’s relatives who attend East Palmyra church. We have sweep duty tonight which means we start working at 5:30 p.m. and work through supper and then again at breakfast tomorrow morning. We’ve been invited to Al and Jan Gelderloos to sleep tomorrow. I’ll probably do some wash there as well because things are starting to get grungy.

Monday evening, August 25. It’s a lovely late afternoon near Byron NY at an RV campground. Sylvia Hugen, Mel’s wife, rented one of the parked campers at the campground, and we (Mel, Rich and I, and Hank and Claire) spent some time socializing before supper. Sylvia brought some newspapers and crackers/cheese/beverages for the five cyclists she knew so we had a nice time between showers and supper.
It’s a cool evening, and the campfire which is blazing about 40 feet away from me. The peloton will start 10 minutes early – I’m sure because it’s rather chilly out and we’ll have to hunker down a little early in order to avoid frost bite. The evening ended with a country music ensemble (fiddle, bass and ?) leading us in singing around a campfire, where we could also roast marshmellows for s’mores.

Sunday evening, August 24. There was a lot of rain this afternoon from 2-3:30 p.m. just before the outdoor service in a park where the last Sunday celebration rally was held today. But just a little before 4 p.m. the sun broke through and the area stayed dry for the one hour service and the barbeque afterwards. I appreciated Alida Van Dijk’s reflections on the tour. She mentioned that a highlight for her was receiving one of the 250 braided crosses made by a few prisoners from Chippewa prison in the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, one of whom knew about the tour because his parents joined the tour in Grand Rapids.

We’ve been hosted (billeted) this weekend by Jaap and Pauline van Staalduinen who live on a lovely piece of property in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. They came to pick us up Saturday night at the Beacon Christian School shortly after a very nice supper served by several of the CRC churches in the area. After little ride during which we were introduced to the Dutch Flower House (Jaap and Pauline’s business) trumpet flowers which grace the boulevards in Niagara-on-the-Lake, we checked out several other unique varieties of flowering bushes and trees in their yard and in their immaculate greenhouses.

On Saturday afternoon Rich and I rode our bikes to Bike Fit, the local bike shop which was one of the most well stocked biking clothing stores I’ve ever seen. I needed my lower bracket looked at it because it’s been creaking, so while that was being taken apart and adjusted, I tried on some clothes and found a pair of shorts that I really liked. The repairs and clothing purchases came to over $170 (including the 13% Canadian tax.) But if these shorts are more comfortable than my other two pair, it will be worth it.

We had to take our baskets out of the gear truck for the weekly cleaning – a task that took the weekend sweep team at least 2 hours to complete. But just before supper we were able to return our baskets to the shelves and get ready for billet pick-up. So by finishing our cycling early on Saturday (we got to Beacon Chr. School by 1 p.m. ) it allowed me to take care of several things – first, getting a massage and being told by a physical therapist how to stretch better (because I have some very tight muscles in my legs after a week of riding and not very good stretching), cleaning out and organizing (again) all our baskets, not to speak of repair of the bike and purchase of new shorts. I’m very happy that we billeted and met new friends who celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary and Pauline, her 50th birthday this summer – similar to our celebrating our 40th anniversary and me by 60th. On this day when our youngest turned 25 years old, we met a young man aged 25 who was the oldest child of our brother and sister in Christ, Jaap and Pauline. Again, the Lord enriched our lives through this audacious bike tour.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Doing just fine

It's Thursday morning and we've just entered Hallstead, Pennsylvania and saw this little library so I thought I'd at least let folks who are reading this blog know that we're still peddling. I have a lot of reflections typed up on my computer which is on the gear truck and I planned to upload them last night at Al and Jan Gelder's house where Rich and I spent the night, but their computer wouldn't copy and paste and it was getting late (9:30 p.m.) and we had to get to bed. The scenery on this ride is just amazing. We have a short day today (58 miles) we're already almost halfway. Tomorrow's ride is very, very hilly and long, so we plan to relax when we get to camp this evening and get plenty of sleep tonight. Saturday is the last day, with a closing banquet at Eastern Christian High School and a program following that. More later. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Toward Niagara Falls - Day 6

Our friends at Redeemer University College provided breakfast this morning (in addition to the supper last night.) We left at 7 a.m. and didn't take any snacks or lunch foods because we knew there were several church groups along the way who would provide refreshments. That is what happened. At Providence CRC in Beamsville we were served lunch, which included a variety of sandwiches, choices of beverages, potato chips, pickles and lots of homemade cookies and bars. A man came up to me to ask if I knew where his daughter-in-law, Cynthia Aukema, was, and I said I hadn't seen her yet, but I was curious if she was related to me. We talked a bit and figured out that not only did Jim Aukema know Owen and MaryLou, but the young man across the table was the son of Dan's Alice's brother, and Jim A. had a daughter who was an artist and lived in Saugatuck and knew John and Marty. It has been said that there is only one degree of separation between any two people on this tour. Have to go eat supper at Beacon Christian School now (in St. Catherine's, Ontario). Then after supper we will go to spend the night with some soon-to-be-discovered hosts. Every day is an adventure.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Taking it easy

Today I decided to take my time, which meant not riding with Claire. In fact, I chose to ride with Hank, who is notably more relaxed in his cycling. We all knew there would be several refreshment stops - at least 4 - sponsored by the CR churches along the way. In deed, there were some very welcoming groups who provided everything from Tim Horton's coffee, currant buns, sub sandwiches, watermelon, juices, baked goods and a respite from the shade. Somewhere along the line, we picked up Jake Prins and soon, I was with Jake and everyone else had gone ahead.

When we got to the last stop at the home of a church member from one of the churches in Hamilton, Jake Prins and I sat in some comfortable chairs under a large maple tree and fell asleep. When I awoke it was almost 3:30 p.m. - the latest time that one would want to arrive in camp. I said loudly, "Jake! We've got to go!" He jumped up and put his glasses and helmet on all in one swift movement. After filling our water bottles, we took off at a leisurely pace to cover the last 15 miles.

We arrived at Redeemer University a little after 5 p.m. I feel very refreshed after a nice shower in their locker rooms, and a supper of bratworst and salads, iced tea, lemonade, fruit and some desserts provided by Redeemer's campus services department. They also will provide breakfast for us tomorrow morning. They have chairs scattered around the front lawn where we'll most likely have our group meeting, which saves us having to haul our folding chairs around. All very considerate amenities.

Rich had set up the tent before I got to camp - he did that after he arrived about 2:30 p.m. Hank and Claire are going to someone's home tonight - being billeted is what it is called in Canada - because they feel they can share some of what the tour is all about with people that way. I agree, and hope that whenever the opportunity arises again, Rich and I will take it. Probably tomorrow and Sunday evenings we'll do that. For tonight, we're fine with going to peloton at 7:30 p.m., small groups at 8 p.m and then hitting the hay at a decent hour. The weather is gorgeous and the hospitality wonderful wherever we go in Canada. I'm learning the Canadian national anthem and singing it while cycling whenever the Spirit says sing!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Reflections on associating with Calvin alumni

As we sit here in the comfort of the home of Pastor Dan and Ida Tigchelaar in London, Ontario, Canada, after a lovely meal of roast, potatoes, beans, corn, peach cobbler with ice cream and peppermint tea, I wonder why I'm so blessed to be treated this well. Today was a very difficult day of cycling. I was drained of energy after 20 miles, but we had 57 more to go before getting to our destination for the day so when we were surprised by these fine friends about 10 miles from the planned camp site with an offer to spend the night in a real bed, after taking a real shower, and doing some laundry, how do you think we responded? Dan and Ida have been friends of Claire for a long time, but Dan and his twin Dave went to Calvin when I did, and they both went on to seminary and served churches in Canada until just recently. Other friends, also alumni from that era, were here for supper as well. So Hank and Claire, Rich and I, Dan and Ida, and John and Marg Hagans had a mini Calvin reunion right here.

I also had a chance to check my e-mail and other signs of energy from the real world. Was pleased to note that David Hoekema, philosophy professor at Calvin, had sent out an e-mail to Calvin folks that was very supportive of the Sea to Sea venture. It read, in part, as follows:

"Every week.... we read about another "I'm going to walk across Tasmania / bike across the Alps / swim the Arctic in order to cure the common cold / feed all the hungry in Mexico / build six new churches in St Ignace" project. Maybe I'm just getting old and cynical, but I grow weary of these, since the causes often seem worthy but unconnected with the particular athletic feat proposed. (And I know from experience in Africa what they sometimes produce: fifty different little projects side by side, not talking to each other or to local churches or agencies, kept afloat by a steady stream of checks from the US but having zero overall impact....)But a wonderfully inspiring counterexample swept through Calvin's campus this weekend: the Sea to Sea ride, which has not only raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for carefully selected agencies (CRC-related and many others) addressing the root causes of poverty and patterns of persistent injustice, but has also brought the riders and support crew to observe and assist some of the most effective church and nonprofit agencies in the cities visited. It's an amazingly well-organized effort. I'm sorry I couldn't arrange my summer obligations in order to ride with them for more than the one-day Saturday trek from Grand Haven to the campus (which was a wonderful experience all the same--new conversations with new people every few miles along the way, fantastic baked goods at the rest stops, etc.)The group rode off into the sunrise this morning, with..........Rich and Carol Rienstra among the third-segment riders who will touch tire to ocean in New Jersey in two weeks. (I believe Carol is the only Calvin staff or faculty member on the ride--but I may have overlooked someone. Seminary retiree Hank Zwaanstra is doing the entire coast-to-coast ride.)I have no official connection with the ride, only personal ties to a number of riders, but I want to invite all my colleagues to take a moment to give thanks for the dream that possessed a few people in the CRCNA and bore fruit in this ride (and the earlier one across Canada); to Carol for all her work to plan the Calvin stop and the uplifting rally yesterday at Fifth Third Park; and to the denomination that supports us. On occasions like this I feel honored and grateful to be a member of the CRCNA."

Another Calvin connection: when we stopped at the Forks in London for a watermelon break, who should say, "Carol? Is it you?" but Hannah Hoogendam who used to work (four years ago already!) in the APR office when she was a student. She loves teaches music at the Christian school in London and attends First CRC. It was so good to see her.

So, in spite of my low energy levels and sore muscles, it was an amazing day of surprises and good connections. We have so many stories, but I want to visit a little longer with Dan and Ida, so if you want to read more related to our experiences, and see some pictures, go to Claire Elgersma's blog.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First few days of Sea to Sea

Wednesday, August 20. Having been properly warned - several times – that if we didn’t take our passports we wouldn’t get into Canada, we made sure before going to bed last night that along with our driver’s license, a credit card, and our health insurance card we put our passports in our bike shorts pockets. Because it was very cold we went to bed early and stayed in the tent as long as possible in the morning. Breakfast was being served early and for a shorter period of time so the gear truck could be readied for the trip as well. The port-a-potty had been shut down for the whole day on Tuesday because it needed to cleaned and kept that way until leaving Canada. Ed Witvoet, the tour logistics manager, did not want to ‘declare the contents.’ He swore that he’d do a DNA sample and find the culprit if there was anything in that port-a-potty on Wednesday morning. Fortunately, we are a compliant group who do what we’re told.

I’ve been wanting to ride with Claire so when she asked if we'd like to, Rich and I jumped at the chance. We quickly put our tent away and brought everything to our baskets on the truck, pumped up our tires and took off at 7 a.m. We finished 20 miles by 8:30 a.m. and stopped at a little coffee shop and purchased a cinnamon roll and coffee - $7 not so wisely spent because as soon as we crossed the St. Clair River there were hundreds of people waiting to welcome the cyclists to Canada, with Tim Horton’s coffee, freshly baked cinnamon rolls, fruit, cupcakes, water, juices, etc. – all free. There’s no reason to spend any money on food during this tour. The cooks who are with us are excellent. First night was so much stew that they begged us to eat more after everyone had a least one heaping scoop and seconds, and last night the same thing with lasagna. There is so much food and it’s really good! (maybe we’re just very, very hungry?)

After that amazing welcome from so many people, we proceeded on a road along the St. Clair River until we reached the first of many "supported" stops. Then before we knew it - arrival at a large arena where people were providing watermelon and more refreshment, and pointed out that the bicycles would be stored in the arena. The camp area was lovely - we picked a spot near a fence so we could hang up our wet towels and tent cover (everything was put away damp this morning.

Tuesday, August 19. We faced a stiff headwind – which was predicted along with cooler weather than we had on Monday. Several of us left early because we knew there would be this 10-14 mile/hr. wind from the east and we had to cover 95 miles to get to Richmond High School where we’d spend the night. We arrived at camp by 4 p.m. – that’s after almost 8 hours
saddle time (and one hour of various short breaks.) We tried to stop frequently (we didn’t really have to try too hard!) so we could share information about the purpose of the tour. We pass out business cards with the Sea to Sea website and other information on them. Lots of people make donations on the spot. Other gifts have made as memorials – we’re hearing about that right now. Mark Van’t Hof, a young pastor who passed away in February of a heart attack, helped a couple people get set to go on this bike trip. His widow spoke about him and his work – his quiet, blushy and subtle ways. She wishes sometimes that he had been more flashy – like Shane Claiborne had talked about fires being started all over. She read from Isaiah 58.

Monday, August 18. A lovely breeze is blowing here at Sleepy Hollow campground. Rich is asleep in the tent after a swim in the lake. I waited in the shower line for 30 minutes, but it was worth it. So here it is – 4:30 pm on our first day of cycling from GR to Jersey City. I feel great! The 68 miles flew by – we were in camp at 2 p.m. No wonder, because it was a perfect day for cycling. We had the wind behind us all the way, except for a one mile back tracking to get to Lowell CRC for a refreshment break at 10 a.m. That was a great reception with awesome food - breakfast casserole, bagels, fruit, homemade muffins and more. Two girls who attended band camp at Calvin were serving coffee with the “first M’bandi in America.” Her husband works at Calvin seminary and their oldest son will be a sophomore at Calvin this fall.

The leftovers from the Lowell stop were sent with the food truck and we enjoyed a muffin and some orange slices when we arrived in camp. That’s not to say we didn’t stop for lunch – a couple times. At a farm house about twenty miles from our destination several cyclists were gathered around one of the motor homes in our caravan which had pulled into a driveway and asked if he could use the homeowners yard as a stop. Not only did the homeowners agree but they provided us with water they brought down from their cabin in northern Michigan. “Throw away all your water, and try this!”

I stopped a couple times to lie down on the grass at the side of the road and listen to trees rustling in the breeze. One time when Rich and I were lounging at the side of the road, 81-year-old Jake Prins came by. He stopped to take off his socks and go barefoot in his sandals. He doesn’t wear clips, but does have straps on his pedals. He also has a mat that is attached to his bike – “in case I want to take a nap on the way. People my age have to do that once in a while.” There are so many interesting people in this group – from ages 18 to 81.

What a privilege to cycle! To have a bike that glides over the road so easily – often over 20 miles an hour. To have all these support people and vehicles so that we don’t have to carry a load on our backs. Just to have the time to spend on this venture. I can’t get over the well-oiled machine that is Sea to Sea Bike Tour ’08.

Thinking back on the sendoff we had this morning at Calvin College – with Mike Van Denend and Dale Cooper, who recited from memory, as he does so well so often, Philemon verse 7 and Ps. 121, let me assure all who read this that we have been refreshed by God’s mercies, and the Lord did keep our coming in and our going out today.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tailwinds on Monday, Headwinds on Tuesday

We started out the day with a strong headwind, very different from Monday, when we got more help than we deserved with the wind at our backs. I wrote up a lot of reflections in a word document on Monday and will post that later because I can't figure out how to cut and paste from the word document to the posting box. Anyway, suffice it to say that both days have been gorgeous. Rich and I finished 67 miles yesterday starting at 8 a.m. from Calvin after a brief send-off blessing by Mike Van Denend and Dale Cooper, and finished by 2 p.m., (remember, tailwinds) and 97 today - he by 3:30 p.m. and myself by 4 p.m. We started early (6:40 am. - remember, headwinds!) I really slowed down at the end of the day. We're supposed to stop and talk with people about the purpose of the tour. We have little business cards with a lot of information on them which we can hand out when people ask what the bike tour is about, and last night we were told to be more assertive. Don't wait until people ask; make yourself available. Hang out a little a corner stores, ice cream shops, roadside parks, etc. if people are curious. So I did that a little more often just to get off the bike! It's 7:14 pm right now and I have to get going to peloton (big group gathering of cyclists) and small group discussion (all women, all just starting the tour this week.) We had a very good time of reading the Shifting Gears devotional, introducing ourselves, and praying together until about 8:30 pm.

So this posting will be rather brief, but I wanted to at least let you know that we're fine and looking forward to entering 'en masse' into Canada tomorrow. We were warned last night already that we can't use the PortaPotty again until we're in Canada, because Ed (the tour manager) doesn't want to have to 'declare' the contents. He will do a DNA sample if there is anything in the pot, and someone may be denied access to the country.

All the Canadians are very excited about going home. I think it was chaplain for the tour Len Riemersma who said on Sunday evening that up until this point, "we've been heading to Grand Rapids, and now we're heading away from Grand Rapids," and someone yelled, "We've always been heading to Canada!"

Tomorrow is a very short cycling day - 50 some miles - but it's full of busyness. We plan on sleeping well tonight in our little tent on our thin ThermaRests.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Crucible

On Sunday morning Rich and I were ready to leave for church but I hesitated because Elizabeth and Nicholas were just waking up and Chad and Jenn were still asleep.  But I'm so thankful that we went to service -  singing Psalm 105 vs. 5 about 'until God providentially made Pharoah set poor Joseph free', and being amazed at Jack's sermon on I Peter 4:12-19, in which he talked about what it means that our lives are in the crucible to be tested, using Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Troy Rienstra as examples, and then the prayers that Cele offered on behalf of the congregation, using the note I sent down the aisle to her about Troy's commutation being on the pile in the governor's office right now, waiting her confirmation of the parole board's 'no interest.'  But God controls the hearts of governors - through his people who plead the case of the poor and disregarded. 
Elizabeth had asked lots of questions about Sea to Sea when we were riding home from a busy day on Saturday.  After swimming in Aunt Jeanne's lake, going out for supper with Jeanne and Nancy, and then to Shirley and Rick's for dessert and a lot of monster truck stuff, she and I were sitting in the back of the van having a little conversation.  "Tell me more, Grandma," she'd say, and I reviewed all the things I knew I needed to think about related to the bike trip in a week.  When we arrived home, she sighed, "Wow, thanks for telling me all about that!"    I sent her home with a 'glow in the dark'  Sea to Sea bracelet.   Can't wait to tell her stories after the trip is over. 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day Sponsors on WBLV

Here it is - 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 7, and I'm hearing it again on WBLV public radio for about the 6th time today and I wasn't even listening most of the afternoon while Kate and I were meeting with CJ to wrap up plans for the celebration next Sunday - "Today's "day sponsors" are Rich and Carol Rienstra, formerly of Muskegon, who will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary tomorrow - 8.8.08.  Rich and Carol invite their friends to join them at Fifth Third Ball Park on Sunday, August 17, to celebrate the Sea to Sea bike tour, which they will join for the following two weeks.  Sea to Sea is sponsored by the Christian Reformed Church in partnership with the Reformed Church in America to break the cycle of poverty.  For more information, go to"

Now that's one way to get your money's worth when you're going to do a sponsorship on the radio!  I wonder what would have happened if I slipped in "contributions to Sea to Sea '08 welcomed"???

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A 600 mile day

Rich and I were up at 4 a.m. to get ready for a long trip to the Upper Peninsula to visit our son Troy today.  After picking up Don DeYoung (a pastor friend who wanted to meet Troy and visit another inmate) from Porter Hills Retirement Community we proceeded north and picked up Lisa Murphy (Troy's fiancee) at Exit 46.  We crossed the Mackinaw Bridge at about 8 a.m. - close to the same time as when we crossed last summer for the DALMAC.  We dropped off Lisa at Chippewa Correctional Facility and the rest of us went to Rudyard CRC and returned to Chippewa by close to noon.  Don visited with us until about 1:10 a.m. and then went out to be processed to visit with someone he knew from Kalamazoo.  He was ushered back in about 2:15  - after shift change.  We all left at  3:30 p.m. after hearing Troy give many accounts to how God is at work around him.  Again, his attitude and testimony amaze and encourage us.  He talked about the vinyl lanyards small crosses that he and a couple others are making - in the colors of the Sea to Sea tour  - yellow, blue and red.   He'll be sending those to me before the weekend that the tour is in GR.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reflections on training

Last night I read Tyler B's account of his crash, and noticed that our fellow COS church member, David Bosch, posted a response to Tyler's blog - telling about how he was hit by a car while riding on Leonard and sustained a broken arm. He still would like to come to the safety training that we're holding on Saturday morning at Calvin's Youngsma Center. On Monday when we were riding on Broadmoor a truck came very close on my left and I leaned to the right and fell onto the grassy area. Didn't hurt myself, but watched the truck whiz past Rich just as close and I felt like screaming, but of course that wouldn't help because if Rich heard me he would have turned and something bad could have happened. Yikes, these motorists can be so clueless sometimes. But I've noticed that my right knee actually feels better since I took the little tumble. Sometimes falls help, I guess.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Biking in Iowa

We've done some cycling while visiting here in Iowa this week. Today we put on 26 miles straight along a beautiful bike trail to Adel - about 12 miles from Urbandale where our son Luke, his wife Marcela and our granddog Beckum live. We will return to Grand Rapids tomorrow (by van....)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday, July 12

What a day! Rich and I were determined to get a longer bike ride in so we started at 7 a.m. and headed west. My intention was to visit my parents in Hudsonville, about 17 miles away, and then bike back by 11 a.m. That was not to be. It started to rain as soon within a 1/2 mile so we went back to get windbreakers. At about 7 miles into our ride it was pouring. We stopped at a cafe for breakfast. After the heavy rain stopped we got back on the road, and forged ahead. The rain was persistent. At 9 a.m. we reached Jenison, noted that the Village Bike Shop wasn't open (my brakes needed adjusting) so we peddled another mile to our sister Jeanne's place on Crystal Lake. She was surprised to see us, and pulled out a pile of towels. We stripped down almost to our birthday suits, which was appropriate because we both celebrated our birthdays in early July. I put some things in the clothes dryer and Rich used a hair dryer to work on the shoes which were sloshing with water. After about an hour we suited up and proceeded to Hudsonville - another 6 miles. Had an enjoyable visit with my parents, and by the time we were ready to head home the skies were clear and the sun shining. We did accomplish the longer ride - this was the first time this summer we cycled more than 35 miles in a day - but we took more and longer breaks than we had planned.

I have to revel in that accomplishment for a couple reasons. First, I've been afraid of riding in the rain - anticipated slipping and slidding and feeling out of control. But, that was not the case. We took it easy, but felt very secure most of the time. I had to replace my back tire yesterday because of blowout, and got a new style of tire that is supposed to be good on wet pavement. I think it was! We did it!

Second, it feels more and more certain that "Yes, we are 'in' for the east stage." A few months ago that was not the case. Although we signed up to ride, Rich suddenly became very sick in early April with discitis and staph infection. He was hospitalized from April 9 until May 23, and
on IV antibiotics for 55 days - until May 30th. He needed therapy to help him learn how to get out of bed, how to get into a chair, to walk, etc. People all over the country were praying for his healing, but not too many were expecting that he'd be well enough to bike at all this summer, much less participate in the Sea to Sea tour. But God is so good, beyond anything we can imagine. Rich is off all the pain medications - and he was on a LOT of them, for a long time - and sleeping very well at night. There were some nights a couple weeks ago that he hardly slept. The doctor said it was probably withdrawal from the fentanyl pain patch that we finally discontinued.

And to top it off, he started a new job on July 1. While flat on his back in April, Church of the Servant extended a 'call' for Rich to be the developing pastor of the the first prison congregation in the state of Michigan. This coming week we'll go to Iowa so he can 'shadow' a pastor of a prison congregation in Fort Dodge. We are very thankful for prayer support from many friends and family. And, we are grateful for the contributions made toward our commitment to raise $8,000 for Sea to Sea '08. Every little bit helps - $8, $80, $800. We're sort of stuck on the eights. On August 8, 2008, we're celebrating a total of 80 years of marriage - Rich for 40 years to me, and I for 40 years to him. We know we are blessed and privileged. Please continue to pray with us that we don't take these things for granted, don't live as if we're entitled to them, and that, in as much as possible, our lifestyles don't cause others to live in poverty.

Friday, July 11, 2008

July 11, 2008

I just figured out that there are more than 50 people who graduated from Calvin who are or will be cycling on this tour. There are also a few more students than I knew about (which was three.)
So, Calvin is well represented! Someone (I can't recall who) has a "John Calvin" bobblehead he places in different spots for photo opportunities.  If anyone knows who it is, let me know.