Final Reflections

On Sunday morning my family & I headed to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We spent more time there then I anticipated. Our family vacation motto—See it now because we’re not coming back tomorrow—so we made it worth our efforts. But, I started to crash…I couldn’t stay awake.

Cynthia was right when she predicted a driving dilemma, actually a riding in the vehicle dilemma—one they experienced when they picked their son up after the 2005 ride. Brian was driving & I could hardly stand to keep my eyes open. I wanted to call out, “Car on the right” or “Yellow light—gonna go!” But, my biggest problem riding in the vehicle was that everything was zooming past me so fast I couldn’t focus—I was used to processing at a slower pace. Brian wasn’t slowing down soon enough for me…I kept wanting to pinch my brakes to slow down. He’s a very good driver and was doing everything right…it was all just coming too quickly for my reflexes. Reaction time for a bike to stop is slow & gradual and in the vehicle the stops came smoothly but with more force. He was only keeping up with traffic—but we were in New Jersey!

We left the city mid-afternoon & drove to Danville, PA and stopped to see our nephew & his family, Jeff & Gina Smit and little Sam. She graciously served us dinner and then he gave us a tour of the town—oh yeah…he’s a Dordt alum too! :-)

So we drove/road all night…we had five to drive…I wasn’t one of them…so they took turns and I slept. I did wake up in Ohio so I can add another state to the list I visited on the trip—but it was at a rest stop in the dark—don’t know how much I really remember either.

It’s interesting finding your place back in the family…they (Brian, Maggie, Jesse, Lee & Keith De Jong) had been vacationing to get me and were doing well without my input…I knew I had to make my way back into the family slowly & just listen for a while to their stories…they had been gracious and listened to mine for weeks.

We didn’t stop, other than for gas (in more ways than one) until we arrived in Iowa City… Here we celebrated Maggie & Jesse’s 1st year wedding anniversary—at Olive Garden but I ate lightly. It’s a 22 hour drive from the Statue of Liberty to Sioux Center without stopping time figured in. We arrived home at 7:30 pm after a stop to the grocery store for a few staples—back to the real world! But, I was still in bed by 9:00—my body was trying to recoup.

This morning I awoke to the sound of rain—first thought in my head was that we were going to get wet while riding. When I rolled over I was so stiff—my bed was so comfortable that I slept like a log & didn’t move all night—my muscles were tight.

Going to the closet to decide what to wear to work was a joke…I had too many choices. I’ve been living with so little—60 lbs. in 2 wash baskets and 1 canvas bag—for so long that it took me a bit of time. Also, I’ve lost a bit of weight—16 lbs.—so I had to see what fit…it was a nice problem. :-)

But what shoes to wear? I’ve been in my Keen sandals and cleats for 9 weeks—I wasn’t going to try heels yet. I stuck with the Keens for another day. And then there’s hair & make-up…I haven’t had goop in my hair for 9 wks either—it makes your head itch under your helmet. Let’s just say it took me longer to get ready for work then I remember.

I enjoy my job, the people and atmosphere so work was a good place to be—they’ve been some of my biggest supporters through the trip in so many ways—but I did want to crash mid afternoon.

Then I had to cook—I’ve not had to decide what to make for so long I first needed to take inventory of what we had in the freezer—Brian didn’t care what I made as long as he didn’t have to do it.

People have asked me to name the prettiest state, the best camp ground, or my best memory…it’s so hard to do. Each state had its beauty…it also would depend on the weather or difficulty of the day that might influence my opinion of the day.

Reflections:

· I remember people in situations…Like the soup kitchens I worked in, or like those sleeping on park benches as we entered St Charles, or the homeless in Denver on the stretch of bike trail as we left that morning.

· I remember the celebration services and the goose bumps and tears that came unexpectedly…

· I remember churches opening their hearts to host us and offering all the goodies we could imagine—like mail drop points, food stuffs, massages and internet.

· I remember learning new songs and the words of those songs that later popped into my head as I was climbing mountain passes.

· I remember the riders—all of us with different styles, tastes, gifts…but all for a common goal.

· I remember all the support staff taking pride in a job well done in their important part of the tour

· I remember all the support from so many sources, churches, families, friends and strangers.

· I remember coffee breaks—and the important role they played.

· I remember some of the bad stuff too—being away from Brian, not being able to stay hydrated, bladder infection, grasshoppers, road kill, and skunk.

But most of all…I remember how faithful God was to all of us on the ride—how we were given what we needed for that day. I still can not believe that we only had 6 hours of rain to ride in for 9 weeks…and when we did get it, it was welcomed. We didn’t have any gale force winds to deal with like some stories from the 2005 ride. Or, when Cynthia went down…how everything came together…the driver that stopped to help being an EMT on vacation…a visible road sign for us to give directions of our location…her being able to fly home the next day with Erin to help her…and her return! All gifts…I know I’d rather her not go down at all and suffer, but when he closes a door he opens a window.

My computer says I went 3986.7 miles plus the95.5 miles on the tandem with Joel Schreurs from Denver to Fort Morgan. Stats for me..

· A total of 4082.2 miles—that’s not even the 1,500 training miles prior to the ride.

· I had 3 flats on the road & 2 in camp.

· I ate like a horse but wouldn’t eat one.

· And made friends with some of the nicest Canadians you can imagine—and some Americans.

· I only lost one thing while I was on the ride—my yellow Sea to Sea T-shirt—that I left at Rob & Carol Dekker’s home—then he sent me a photo of him wearing it… :-)

The riding is over—but if Ed & Jen would have had maps for the coast I would have been tempted—but the fight for poverty alleviation is not over. I have a heightened sense of my blessings, my responsibilities with my blessings, and intrigue to where I go from here with my blessings.

It’s good to see the CRC and RCA working together for this cause. Thank you to the following Churches and your support:

· Central Reformed in Sioux Center, IA

· Calvin CRC in Le Mars, IA

· Pease CRC in Pease, MN

· New Life Reformed, in Sioux Center, IA

· Immanuel CRC in Orange City, IA

· Covenant CRC, in Sioux Center, IA

· First CRC, in Sioux Center, IA

It’s good to see the young people on this ride take such an active part in this important issue.

It’s hard to know where and when to stop with the words. Thanks to all the “Cyber-Cyclists” who came along for the ride… You’ve prayed for me, laughed with me, cried with me and lifted me with your finances, cards, comments, e-mails, introductions, hugs, smiles, prayers…support of every kind.

You know where I work…if you’re on Dordt’s campus, please look me up. I’d love to relive some memories. Until we meet again, thanks with love, Barb Mellema

Sussex to Jersey City—61 Miles Day 62 August 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Jane…

Yesterday, I didn’t tell you about John & Cynthia—I was first waiting to see how they were doing for the day. Cynthia was with Jerry, Pete, Andy, and Jake & I was with Louis while John was on sweep. Early in the morning Cynthia went down, lightly, when she couldn’t get clipped in on a hill. I wasn’t there to see it but I did see the skinned up ankle bone and she spoke of a sore rump—but she said her hip was okay. Last night I confessed how anxious/down right scared I was to ride with her in Canada when she joined us. I was afraid for her safety…afraid she’d do damage that would hurt her healing…afraid I’d somehow be responsible for something. I was very tense on her behalf—that’s why I wasn’t with the group she pedaled in when we’d split up in the mornings. She understood and it was no problem since we were usually at the SAG areas and coffee together anyway. I was glad I didn’t see her tip over—those are lasting images regardless if the rider gets hurt or not.

John was riding sweep duties and coming down a hill when a lady couldn’t decide if she should slow down and wait for him or speed up & go in front. Her delayed reaction had her making a last minute decision and she cut right in front of John sending him skidding down. She stopped to apologize but she couldn’t put the skin back on his backside or the paint back on his bike. He didn’t show us his injuries but he had to keep moving today so he didn’t’ tighten up.

Our last day of riding…people have been asking if I’m ready to be done…I can’t answer that easily. I’m ready to be with my family, ready to return to the familiar, but I could easily turn right at the Atlantic & follow the coast for the winter if my family could come along-and my biking family.

I didn’t sleep very much last night—I messed up the copy/paste on my Word doc. for my blog & ended up retyping it all. It may have been because I was tired or just antsy to get to bed. So at 12:00 when I finally put the computer down and made my way down the hall I got the wrong room & may have scared our host’s daughter a bit—I apologized to Rob at breakfast & explained. Then at 5:00 Cynthia’s alarm went off an hour early…just let us sleep—the guys will wait for us on the last day won’t they?

We got to the school and true to form they were all ready—get our bikes, fill our waters, grab a Cliff Bar and we’re off. We only make 2 miles and we had to make a stop—last night John visited with an owner of a local bakery and they were expecting us for a donut.

When we mounted up again the ride took us through suburban areas but we didn’t always know where we were—NY, PA, & NJ—they ran into each other it seemed. When we asked a guy on the street what state we were in he yelled back, “NY” and gave a look that said he thought we were out of our minds…well, sometimes we are.

When we were 35 miles into the morning we stopped for coffee. We only had 15 miles to go for the meeting area where all 200 & some riders could gather and all ride to the finish together with a police escort. I was so jittery I had a hard time keeping it under wraps. We were told in Seattle at our first meeting that we would all take a turn going down at some point on the ride—I hadn’t yet and really didn’t plan to do it on the last day. (I’ve only tipped one time and that was 17 yrs ago when Angela & I came upon a car in the ditch on an early morning ride.) One of my goals besides safety was to ride every mile of the tour—I was chanting a little prayer all morning for alertness, safety, and to finish strong.

The restaurant for our break was right on the route and we could watch others go on. At coffee time some were ordering a bigger breakfast but I didn’t want much & ordered caffeine, to keep me awake, and a roll. The roll was so big I had a hard time eating it all.

We figured this would be the last time we’d be together as a group without other riders, family & friends around—so we held hands and had a final prayer together around the breakfast table, just like we did when we finished the other stages of the tour. John led the prayer—again we joked that the food would get cold if we had one of our preachers say it. It was a prayer of thanksgiving, for the food, safety, and friendships. It was also a prayer for the purpose of the ride—poverty and those that don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

Jerry’s chain broke yesterday and he had a problem with it earlier today—it got him in but he did have to do some fixing on it. For the last few days I’ve been saying an extra prayer that my bike holds up. After knowing about Jake’s carbon seat post and John DP’s carbon front fork snapping, my carbon fiber seat beam was adding to my prayer list along with my bottom bracket concerns.

Because of stop lights we broke apart—Louis & I in the back. We came up to Corinne S & rode with her until the next SAG stop—her parents were going from SAG to SAG and encouraging her in—it was cool because she was so excited too. While climbing one of our last city hills I was shifting into lower gears & my chain came off. Crap! The other day I shifted and moved my derailleur over, soft pedaled, and got my chain back on. Now going up hill I had to dismount, use my fingers while my chain was dirty & put it back on manually. Louis stopped with me until I was ready to roll again. We went over another hill & saw Bill & Rita W & Anne M. taking photos of the NY & NJ skyscrapers in the distance. Louis stopped but I started down the hill & stopped where Andy H. was taking photos. We all went to the meeting area from there.

We had a few hours to knock off before it was time for us to leave there. It gave us time to walk around and say goodbyes to some. It’s too bad we didn’t get to know some of the last stage riders better. I got a kick out of Ralphy Boy, John DV & Jim DG. and many others.

I saw Melissa Klooster cleaning a scuffed up area on her leg—she went down & another rider rode over top of her—wrecked her vest & jersey—she’ll be sore on the way home.

As people gathered a photo was taken of all the cyclists who had Brooke’s saddles—I think this was the most saddles of this kind on a ride. Then we took a final group photo of the riders. Randy & Fred missed the photo, and a few others, because Fred had a few flats along the way on the last day—just had to be a statistic one more time. :-)

Tyler B. came to join us for the last 10 miles so he & Cynthia went to the front—so they didn’t get caught in a pack of bikers in case someone would go down they would have the reaction time they’d need.

As we were getting ready to go the last 10 miles Ed V was giving directions. We had to follow Billie D & him; they were on the motorcycle behind the police escort, and stay in one lane but to take up the whole lane. It was really a privilege to ride through the streets we did with a police escort. I know it took more than Ed will ever let on to get the cooperation of 3 police departments to help us the last 10 miles.

We had pot holes, cracks, manhole covers, and cobblestones to ride on the last 10 miles. The police stopped traffic on busy roads, bridges, and Liberty State Parkways for us—and lots of the time cars were honking for us when they didn’t even know what was going on.

As we entered the park and we saw family and others from our support staff cheering it hit me that we were at the finish—a few tears started to fall. We all went down the shoreline in a long row, stopped and said the Lord’s Prayer together, and all walked to the water to dip our front tire—very cool.

Photos, hugs and rejoicing all around.

Pack the bikes up, head over to the school by Faith Community Church, clean up for dinner. We were tired and alert all at the same time. As I was packing my bike Brian told me that when I shipped my hard case home from Seattle some one removed all my tools that I had inside. I think I’ll have a talk with the UPS Company when I get home. I’m missing a new pedal wrench, rubber mallet, packing skewers for my front & rear forks, metric wrench set, and more. Oh well, plan B—Brian always comes prepared and we made due with the tools he always takes along when we travel—he’s a keeper.

The hotel was on the way to the school so I stopped to shower there, put on some of Brian’s clothes until I could find my own, and got to the school. It looked like organized chaos—some people taking their bikes apart, some unloading the gear trailer, others removing the decals from the kitchen truck & gear truck—it was energy in motion of a different kind. Then off to the final dinner and rally at Cedar Hill CRC—I need to stop eating—I’ll start tomorrow. It was a long time since that roll at breakfast.:-)

I met more people who were blog readers and were praying us up along the journey—thank you for that. I was very tired during the rally that night but tried to stay focused. John & I were interviewed and I had to watch what I said—I usually zone when I’m tired or get really giggly—I know I biffed one question because I just couldn’t focus. One question the man asked was what drew us to the ride. John answered first & my first reaction was to mention the funky tan lines & weight loss program—I behaved myself.

Some final stats:

  • 195 falls—from tipping over because of not being able to quick unclip to hospital bound
  • 819 flats—combined total of all the riders
  • 28 flats—Eritia Smit had the most for the 9 week trip
  • 36 flats—most flats in a day—and it was today, our last riding day
  • 11 no flats— the numbers of riders that started in Seattle & went to the finish in New Jersey.

Final photos and goodbyes—more like, “I’ll see you laters” are tough after 2-9 weeks together. I really think I’m going to see many of these people again on future CRWRC work projects, or something like it, but time will tell.

Dalton to Sussex—82 Miles—Day 61 August29, 2008

What a wake up call—a skunk came into camp and left at stench a little after 4:00 am—I couldn’t bury my nose in the sleeping bad enough. I didn’t get much sleep after that because I was tenting between John & Cynthia & they were on breakfast sweep duty.

We left Lackwanna State Park this morning with vest & arm warmers but jettisoned them shortly after. Lots of climbing today so we warmed in a hurry.

It was a big day for all—82 miles of ups & downs with grades of 14-16 % at different times.Coffee at Mugg’s in Hawley wasn’t quick with many bikers but few waitresses…but I got a funny picture of Fred Meyerink’s helmet hair.

The biggest climb was 4 miles that took us to High Point, NJ—this is the highest point in the state. Right at the top is High Point State Park with a monument—we just had to do it…another 1.5 miles to it, 291 steps to the top. It was 21 floors tall & reminds me of Washington Monument in DC.Louis & I stopped to take many photos today. Churches, prisons, wind generators…all were in great settings of these rolling hills…check out the photos of the day.

When I got to camp at Sussex Christian School I had a surprise visit from Ken & Diane (Vander Schaaf) Nywening—I wish I had more time to visit but thanks so much for coming to see me. We were in grade school & high school together and I used to cut her hair.

I also met a few blog readers and Dordt alums. Brandi (Ochsner) Vande Werken and her husband Joel are living here. Brandi had the sign for us in NE & I met her mom in the middle of the road. Joel is the pastor here. I also met Terri Garris and Stan and Melody (Brink) Sturing.

The food at the school here was unreal—what a buffet. WOW! It is time for me to start cutting back starting Saturday night—I won’t be biking on Sunday but rather starting the ride home. I’ll just have my daughter order first & eat what she chooses—then I won’t have to make a decision of what to eat or I’d over order.

We’re guests this evening in the home of Rob and Carol Dekker’s—he’s a brother to Rin Goedhart, one of my prayer partners at home. Rin—you are remembered fondly here and I even met a few of your former students…Sharon & John Morris and Rich Sytesma. Rich’s daughter Hannah made a great sign for us outside the Clove Brook Bakery…and we need to get Casey, their son, to our campus!

Sarah Terpstra will be getting out of the hospital tomorrow according to her brother. Bob said to watch her blog site for updates in a few days—thanks for your concern & keep praying for her.

Things from the day: :-)

  • I saw a sign that said, “A zoned community.” What kind of drugs do they take for them to all be zoned? Quaaludes?
  • How do you tell the person in front of you that “crack up” no longer means a crack in the road or a joke…but rather it’s time to throw those shorts away after a 9 week tour?
  • Ladies—your husbands have been making their lunches and doing their laundry for 2-9 weeks…don’t let them fall back into their old routines.
  • Men—your wives have been carrying their bags and setting up their tents for 2-9 weeks—they need a break.

It’s time for bed—this is the second time I’m typing this because I lost it in the cut & paste process. I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for blogging but I do plan for a few reflections later. Pray for us on our last day…that we stay safe as we go to the waters edge, that logistically it all works out with 3 different police escorts, and that the mission continue and not end at the water.

Binghamton to Dalton PA–58 Miles–Day 60 August 28, 2008

Last night we were hosted for dinner by Valley CRC—they served Spiedies (speedys)—a local highlight. Skewered bites of marinated chicken & pork, slow cooked (2hrs.) over low heat. Let’s just say we didn’t leave hungry—they were very good and so was the fellowship.

The days are getting shorter—it took me years to figure out what people meant when they said it. But the sun isn’t coming up as quick or hanging around as long as it used to. I didn’t get up until 5:50 & we didn’t leave until 6:50. Heavy dew covered the tents and bikes that had to stay outside—Cynthia still gives me a hard time about my bike in my tent—it’s the child I never gave birth to.

It was low 50’s when we left and two hours later it still read 56*—clouds prevented the sun from warming us up too quickly. The high some say was in the 70’s—I don’t know when though. I think my blood is thinning out because I don’t remember wearing so many biking clothes as this week—I kept my leg warmers on all day today. My arm warmers now have safety pins at the top so they don’t fall down—lost a bit of upper body weight the last 8 weeks. Leg & arm warmers are made of lycra, with elastic on each end to hold them in place—they keep our extremities warm and are easy to peel off once our bodies or the temps warm up.

The morning smells are fresh—laundry in someone’s dryer, fields being worked, the smells at bakeries—and then a guy went by with a cigarette…cough, cough.

Cory was at 11 miles out and he waved us on and told us where a turn was coming up—he’s glad to be back at his duties today and not riding with us. We made a stop at Julie’s SAG and she had a great location—on the NY & PA state lines. Photo opportunities…She had potato chips for us—Yes! Salt instead of sugar…From there we went to coffee—we tried to get Julie to go along with us, she declined. What would they do to her if she dropped off the water jugs & chips with a sign that says she’ll be back in a bit? Fire her at this late date of the ride? Ever faithful to her duties…

I noticed in my mirror while we were riding that a few dropped off the line. Cynthia was having a bit of breathing trouble—so we spread out. Too many bikers in a long line limits the visual ability of those in back so we separated into two groups again—I was with Louis & John. Cynthia was with Jake, Andy and Jerry. We usually meet up at the rest areas or for coffee but today we missed each other when we went into town…didn’t see each other until camp.

Beautiful visuals today. Covered lanes, waterways, and the Tunkhannock Viaduct—according to the locals it’s the world’s largest reinforced concrete structure world.

Our climbs at the end of the day were short but steep—one persons GPS said 14-16% grade. I found my mountain muscles again—Hello little legs! Climbing here is different then the mountains—tree lines come quicker thank the Lord.

At peloton tonight Alida (in camp nurse) and Marv (kitchen truck driver and who hates to say more than 3 words at a time) De Boer, gave a reflection of the trip through their eyes. Alida said, “We are in awe of what you have accomplished on bikes with such skinny tires.” Then she gave us a few medical statistics,

· 22 people went to the ER

· 3 collar bones

· 1 Achilles tendon

· 1 broken pelvis

· 2 with broken ribs

· 1 arm

· 6 people broke bones

· 2 needed stitches

· 3 needed surgery after going home

Communion tonight was a blessing. At all of our services Jenna Zee & Annette Rolleman have been playing their flutes and sharing their talents with us—I hope they know what a blessing they have been to us. When you tell them thank you they respond with, “No problem.” It would be for me—music is not one of my talents. J

I’m being hosted in Sussex so this is my last night to sleep in my tent—it’s been a great little dome home but it’s time to move into my spouse house. J

Because I was hosted this past weekend I missed the mail. So today, I received a lovely letter from a blog reader in Salem, Oregon. Amy, thank you for introducing yourself and family to me and for your encouraging words. I hope someday you and your family, as well as many others, can do a Sea2Sea type experience. Until you do may God bless you and your husband in your ministry. Coffee shops are great places too—thanks!

Romulus to Binghamton—77 Miles—Day 59 August 27, 2008

This morning we had on the winter woolies for breakfast. Corinne S. isn’t feeling up to par so some of us covered her breakfast sweep duties. Our group broke up a bit for the day—rolling hills aren’t good in lines.

Cory, our early morning SAG driver, rode with us today. We have enough others to chip in so he borrowed a bike & came with Louis, John & me. It was a great day for riding with the hills, cool temps and beautiful scenery—this blog entry might read like yesterdays but we’re still in upstate NY.

We didn’t get far down the road & we arrived at our first photo op. We came upon a Port-a-Pot distributor…I just had to have a photo of the guys by them—poor Cory can’t get away even for a day.

We arrived at Margaret De Weerd’s SAG stop, usually Cory’s area, and we stopped to say hello. Poor Cory couldn’t get his feet out of the basket pedals & down he went. He didn’t get hurt…but it counts…he became a statistic.

The road was easily marked & it took us into Ithaca—home to Cornell—so we found a donut/coffee shop & tried to have Cory enjoy a typical day of biking. Out came the cards to pass around and visit with John DV, Ralphy Boy, and Jim DG—these 3 started in MI.

We had to make a major climb right after coffee, for some it was difficult, but at the top was Six Mile Creek Winery. They had a wonderful setting & orchard right in the back—check out photos.

Cory had a great day—he’ll sleep good tonight–look at photos—life is good—God is great.

I’m limited for time—internet is down in camp & will be down for the rest of the week. I’m blogging with Ed G. & Bert S. at Broome Community College in Binghamton—it was a drive by car to get here & supper awaits. Blog entries could be sporadic but I’ll keep trying. Tomorrow night we’re in a State Park again—I think.

My family is on the way to get here—pray for safety for all—thanks for reading.

Byron to Romulus—77 Miles—Day 58 August 26, 2008

As I crawled into my tent a local musical group was entertaining all the riders with fiddles, a guitar & a bass…beautiful music of many different musical styles. They even had an extra fiddle and let Vonda W. play a solo & join in with them.

The locals said it was in the upper 40’s this morning with heavy dew. I always keep my bike in my tent and after 8 weeks of setting my tent up & taking it down, it doesn’t take me long to do either. In the short time of taking my tent down my bike was full of dew… frame, computer, & seat…yuck! I about thought about using arm warmers but when I used them the other day I had to safety pin the tops to keep them up—I’ve lost a bit of upper body weight. Rather my heavy, long sleeve jersey, full finger gloves and socks today was the uniform because of the cool temps—I love biking in this kind of weather.

We went out in two groups today. Louis, John, Pete & I were in the first one & Cynthia, Andy, Jerry & Jake were behind us by 50’. Everyone gets the room we need for safety sake & if others hop on the line we’re not too long as we go through cities.

We went right past Cory—he was 11 miles out and too early in our ride but he was busy talking with a local and handing out a S2S card. (It’s not just the riders that are spreading the message—our support staff does too.) We didn’t stop until we had 25 miles in at Lima—time for coffee & passing cards out.

We had a lunch stop at a farm and it was hosted by the great people of East Palmyra CRC. Sloppy Joes, fruit, salads, chips—this is what I ate but the list of options goes on… two miles down the road I was bemoaning the fact that I ate too much.

Our last stop was to say hi to Joe De Weerd, a SAG driver we added in MI. I asked where the turn was coming up & he said in 2K. Had Cynthia, Andy & Pete asked when they stopped they wouldn’t have missed it and added another 50K to their day. Get out the ice pack…

The route today was great—rolling hills through cropland and very little traffic—Ed did good! We’re in the Finger Lakes area of New York. I didn’t know that this state had all this to offer—I usually think big city life when I think New York. I’ve been noticing the differences in the crops that are drying out, the sumac changing color, and some leaves that are dropping.

Sampson State Park is our tent space for the night—it was a Naval Base early on. The waters in Seneca Lake are so deep that they did submarine testing here. It has a Military Museum, clean bathhouses, nice beach and great camping area.

Mike Bruinooge (he started in MI) was filling his tire with air right before dinner. I just happened to walk up behind him and make a loud bang noise—need less to say, I should be watching my back in the future—it sure was funny at the time.

We’re celebrating tonight on behalf of Marti & Colby DuPlessi’s right to pay Canadian taxes—yesterday they were allowed into the country on a permanent basis. (Citizenship Ceremony) The cooks can really cook things up when they get on a roll—balloons, cake, poster & a Canadian T-shirt. Reminder to self—stay on their good side.

Tonight at peleton Len R., head chaplin, asked us what we’re going to say when people ask us about our ride. My response…read my blog! I put it all in here. I’ve been having an awesome experience seeing God in creation, in people, in moments of the day. We’ve started at an ocean, moved up mountains, dried out in the dessert, pioneered the plains, foraged in the forest, and Lord willing will see another ocean by bike. How do we sum up the experience of meeting people in coffee shops, along the road, rest/lunch stops, and celebration services?

By grace I’m having a wonderful summer. I don’t want to sound trite when I write that “I don’t know what the future holds but I know who holds the future… In truth…it’s almost scary to dwell on what God expects of me now that I’ve been given so much.

St Catharines to Byron, NY—76.5 Miles Day 57

It was great meeting so many at the Celebration Service—thanks for the prayers and support. I’m not looking at Saturday as the end of the tour. I think it’s like a wedding comparison—the wedding ceremony is a kick-off for married life. The ride was also my personal kick-off for my personal journey and fight of poverty.

This is my last Monday to ride. This morning I left Henrietta’s home with Lavonne & Cynthia—she joined us last night—to get to Beacon Christian School where the group was based for the weekend. I was on my last sweep day today.

The cool temps dictated arm warmers and a vest when I left camp with Corinne S & Christeena N. The rest of the team, the London Express is what they’re calling us, was ahead of us a bit. We went on a bike path along the Welland Canal, missed our turn onto Queenston St., but it was a bonus that we happened to see a ship in the locks so it was worth it.

All the cyclists and support staff had to meet at 9:30 in a parking lot off of Hiram Ave. by the Falls for the border crossing over Rainbow Bridge. It was an answer to prayer at the border. We literally went right through—they gave us 2 lanes on the left and none of us were stopped, none of us had to show passports…just ride, say thank you & have a good day. I’m convinced it was all the prep work Ed W. did on the front end, prayers and the Lord’s blessings—that ease of crossing has never happened to any of us that we could recall.

We checked out the Falls on the USA side before we headed out in groups of no less than 6 through Niagara—safety in numbers. We didn’t stop too often but had a good day in general. The communities were small today but the route was pretty. When we got to Alabama, a small town in New York not the state, we went to Teed Off, a little burger shack connected to a golf course, and met the group I’m usually with. Hmmm…did they take an alternate route to still be out this late? Yep! They put on an extra 15K/8 miles on that route—glad I wasn’t along for that ride. J

The closer we got to Byron we saw fields of cabbage heads—that’s a new one for me—I could smell them before I saw them. When the sun disappears behind a cloud it cools down quick. It’s supposed to be cold tonight & they started a camp fire—I’m down wind right now & my tent might smell like it for the rest of the week.

It’s time to get our clothes off the line—Joe De Weerd rigged up a clothesline for us between his trailer& a picnic table—have our peleton meeting, and small group meeting.

Definitions for some of you:

SAG—Support and gear

RAGBRAI—Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa—the oldest, largest fun ride in the world—IA is a state that has 2 rivers as natural borders, Missouri & Mississippi…at the beginning of the ride we dip in the Missouri & at the end we dip our bike tire in the Mississippi. (Thousands of people ride this ride the last full week of July.)

Tim Hortons–a coffee/donut shop. I hesitate to compare it to Starbucks and anger my Canadian friends. Tim H. was a hockey player. He was killed on a corner we went past last week in a car accident.

No small groups tonight–the cook are providing S’mores at the campfire–more sugar! Where’s the salt? A huge thanks to Henrietta for getting me to the store for ketchup chips!

Please continue to pray for SarahTerpstra–her infection has worsened and she’s back in the hospital. If I find out more I’ll post it.

St. Catharines, ON CANADA Sunday, August 24, 2008

Do I have to get out of bed? It’s 8:10 & my body wants more sleep—I don’t know if I need the sleep but I want more sleep.

Yesterday I forgot to mention the horsemeat…yes horsemeat! We were at The Dutch Shop, Eritia’s bakery, & in the deli case I see a ‘loin’ labeled horsemeat. At first I laughed thinking it really was horse—then Jaco & John asked me what I was laughing at & I pointed & asked them what it really was—it REALLY is HORSE. Jaco offered me a slice—thank you NO! When in Rome maybe, but this isn’t Rome…and I have options. Maybe it’s what you get used to, but we used to joke about old horses going to the glue factory. Here, if the race horse loses it loses in a big way.

After blogging, dinner, and a shower we headed to Niagara. Henrietta gave us a ride through Niagara on the Lake and then took us to the Falls…such generous hospitality. Henrietta is a CRWRC worker in the Burlington office in Canada. She has served 10 yrs in Mali, West Africa. Her claim to fame was riding a camel in Timbuktu.

We went to worship this morning at Covenant CRC…not in Sioux Center but in St Cath. This church is Alida Van Dijk’s home church. A good number of other riders attended here too this morning. A few SERVE teams spoke about their trips at the service—it’s so neat to hear what they witnessed and what they were able to be a part of in the name of Christ. I can see seeds planted in them & if I never meet them again I pray that those seeds take fruition in the Word so they continue to go out in the world.

Pastor Herm & Dee—met a few friends of yours from Toronto—Gerard & Ellie Duiker & Emo Knibbe…they came here for the service today. It’s raining right now—maybe if we have the rain today we won’t have rain tomorrow when we ride…

The rain stopped and we were able to have the Celebration Service outdoors at Queenston
Heights at Niagara Falls. Brian Walsh gave the address and talked about being change agents—living the fruit of the Spirit without piety.We’re off to peleton & I found out I’m on sweep tomorrow morning—set out lunch items, breakfast will be provided by a local church I think, and them sweep the riders into camp. We’re crossing back into the states tomorrow—pray that it goes smoothly.

Mike Vander Horst went down again late yesterday afternoon & found out he has a crack in the color bone. Mike is a very good/strong rider, I’ve been behind him in a head wind & he’s also good about calling out road conditions for us. Please pray for comfort & healing–he’s going to ride in the morning though. Also pray for Sarah Terpstra—she went home with a kidney infection but will join us in Jersey City. Sarah—we’re praying your rest & meds do you well & I was sorry to hear this news.

It’s really hard to believe that we have 6 days of riding left. As much as I’m going to miss all the people I’m riding with and everyone in camp, I’m setting my mind that even though the riding is coming to an end— our mission and fight against poverty continues. I’m more aware myself of the needs locally and globally and some of the things I can do. I’m more knowledgeable of the work CRWRC and our missionaries and disaster response teams do and our churches involvement. It was announced that were over the $2 million point in our fund raising—Praise God & thank you all.

Hamilton to St Catharines—46 Miles Day 55 August 23, 2008

After a great night at Ena & Dick Mostert we headed back to Redeemer College to get our gear. Louis B, John VS & myself headed out together biking. Last night at peloton we volunteered, along with Aaron Carpenter, Cory Nyhuis & Johnnie Pierce, for a service project at Start up Niagara.

It was good weather with a bit of a side wind as we went along orchards of grapes. These orchards are for icewines—they let the grapes hang until it freezes to 10-13 C before they harvest the grapes & press them. We had pretty scenery as we went along the Niagara Escarpment on ridge road—I can’t explain the escarpment except to say, “The Escarpment soars 510 metres (1675 ft.) at its highest point and stretches 725 km (450 miles) from Niagara to Tobermory.” http://www.escarpment.org/about/overview/index.php Yeah—come check it out!

We dropped down the escarpment on a road with 12% grade into
Grimsby and stopped at The Dutch Shop, it reminds me of Casey’s Bakery with all the Dutch gifts and goodies to go along with baked items. Eritia Smit works here when she’s not biking so Jaco, owner, treated all the riders to coffee and mocha cake.

We kept our stops brief because of our time line but journeyed on to Shalom a rest/nursing home to greet the residents. Around the corner was Mountain View CRC where they were serving peaches and ice cream—I stuck to the peaches which were excellent—but it’s the support of the people that warms us.

We went on to Providence CRC in Beamsville which was the lunch stop—no time to eat a bit—just time to greet a bit—and we were off. Bless Cory—he grabbed us a few buns from Beamsville we could eat when we got in. This is where Aaron joined our line & we rushed in the last 20 miles.

We averaged 17 mph with city traffic & many stop lights—I no longer trust the guys when they yell, S-l-o-w-i-n-g—because they don’t! Stop lights meant ‘slowing’ and slowing meant ‘only if we see cars.’ I figure that’s how they bike on weekends in Canada.

Once we got in a quick clothes change had us heading out to Start up
Niagara, it is a soup kitchen & we served vegetable soup, bread, a tuna bun and desserts. You know those WWJD bracelets? Well, I really think that this is a place where Jesus would hang out. People come for the food, to socialize, or both. We served maybe 80 people, people I wouldn’t see on the streets of my community—doesn’t mean they’re not around—I’m just seeing with different eyes the different needs of different people. I was blessed.

When we arrived back at Beacon Christian School, our base for the weekend, I was treated to a massage. This weekend I’m a guest in the home of Henrietta Hunse along with Lavonne Koedam. Tonight we’re going to Niagara Falls and tomorrow will be busy with our last Celebration Service on the route—I’m not counting the finale here. It is so hard to believe that we have completed week 8.

Also, a shout out to Andrea (Knevel) Mulder, a Dordt alum I met yesterday at the Woodstock stop. It was great to meet her and I appreciate her energy and smile.

Please pray for Jeff Schoon-the one who told me about the snow plow to my igloo-who went down 2 days ago. He biked yesterday with a separated shoulder—these people are tough & want to finish every mile they can.

London to Hamilton—78 Miles Day 54 August 22, 2008

Thanks for all the birthday greetings-I was trying to slide under the radar on this one–it didn’t work. Karen-happy birthday to you today!

This morning I didn’t awake until 5:55—that would be extremely late if I had a tent to pack. Although, if I had a tent to pack I wouldn’t have slept that late b/c the tent zippers of other would have gone off. I was tucked in a bed at Irene & John VDSteen’s home. I’m not a high maintenance woman on a bike ride so I was up and at it in a bit-I’m not a high maintenance woman off a bike ride either though.

As we were riding into Ingersoll we were concerned on how big our line of bicycles was getting. I was #5 & Cynthia was #6 with 4 or 5 more behind—not smart when the goal was to keep everyone off her rear wheel. We had a great stop at Ingersoll CRC under the care of Coby—Heather Fieten’s mother—good hospitality runs in the family. Ingersoll CRC helped sponsor Andy DV, Pete VN & Mike VH, guys from our group, and we can’t do this without your support.

We split up the group for the day—I rode with Cynthia, Mike, John & Louis. The guys took the lead & Cynthia was at the end. Riders were quick to give us space when we explained what we were doing. It worked slick—if she falls behind a bit I help pull her up to the end of the line. If we get too far back I give a yell. She’s biking strong but stops & starts are done gingerly—and she’s ready to get in at the end of the day. We told all the SAG drivers that if we pass by without stopping it’s not because we’re anti-social—I don’t think that title would fit anyway.

I just had a guy from Redeemer take my photo while I’m blogging—I fessed up that I was from Dordt—I don’t think I’ll make their publication. :-) I wore my Dordt College jersey to this campus but didn’t want to push it while on campus. They’re doning a great job for us and we appreciate it.

I’ve been enjoying this whole ride and I love to see new things/places. The rolling of the hills today was great—reminds me of home & I hate to lose those climbing muscles on too many flats—we’ll need those muscles next week. I went past crops of cauliflower, tobacco, and ginger besides the corn & beans I could recognize. The smells of the day can linger when the humidity rises like it did today, but most of them were good smells. Early morning we ride down streets & smell clean laundry—when we’ve been living out of a gear truck & canvas bags you notice the subtle smells of clean clothes & perfume on ladies in coffee shops. Fresh cut grass and hay remind me that I didn’t sit the mower once this year…I think there will still be time when I get home…shoot.

Lunch was at Woodstock—in a field that reminded me of RAGBRAI—with sandwiches and mocha cake. There is no chance of losing any more weight even if I wanted to—I’m sticking to the fruit or I’ll end but in a diabetic sugar coma—and I don’t have diabetes…yet! Then it was off to Brantford where I was greeted by the Vanderwoerd family. Valerie, Jim, Colin, Trevor, Graham and Hannah were cheering us all on. They were members of Covenant CRC with me in Sioux Center and now live closer to family—Trevor is taller than me now & on his way to take a drivers test—I’m sure he did well.

Now we’re at Redeemer’s nice campus. Fellowship CRC welcomed us and Leah gave me a pedicure—I think I may have needed it after all these weeks of biking. I’m going to be billeted this evening, along with Claire E. & Hank Z. by Ena and DickMostert—she’s very busy welcoming the riders and doing a great job of it.

Doug Lukte got taken down by a dog today. Rick Gritters & Joy, Doug’s wife, made it past the German Shepherd & Black lab—Doug thought he was safe too until one of the dogs took right for his front tire—down on his shoulder. He’s sporting some rash on his elbow as well as a sore right shoulder.

Pete Van Noord had a spill too today. Pete was with the other group of guys that broke off of our group and with 10K he rubbed tires with Jerry K. He’s sporting a bit of the road rash too—he then headed for the bike shop to replace/fix his aero bars.

Please continue to pray for safety–that’s the only way we get through a day–the prayers of the people & grace. We’ve been so blessed and enriched with this opportunity and meeting such wonderful people along the way that even though I know I’mrepeating certain sentiments–I still mean them.

I talked with Henry Kranenburg-a Dordt Board Member -he was also at my interview-told me I still have a job to go back to…Yeah!