Monday, 26 August 2013

To God be the Glory.

Sitting here in the plane waiting to take off for Detroit, I was struck with the knowledge that I'd see my family in just over two hours! And then it hit me that this adventure of a summer was over. No more biking. No more sleeping outside. No more traveling to see a new place each and every day. No more Sea to Sea 2013. My feelings are confused. I am overjoyed to be seeing my family again before I head back to school, but I am saddened that the summer is already over ... Where has the time gone?


Friday we rode from Hyde Park to New City, New York. We were told to expect a lot of climbing and, with the exhaustion of my leg muscles, I was kind of dreading another day of climbing. And we did in fact have quite a bit of climbing ... but I don't know if I'd ever had so much fun! We had to climb up another mountain- 3 miles of it, and that was just one of the climbs! But what a beautiful day. Cool, overcast, tailwind... absolutely perfect. I arrived in camp before all the trucks and crashed happily on top of a picnic table. We were camped alongside a beautiful lake. We overran the bike path running around the lake and caused many curious exercisers to stop and ask what we were doing.

I chose to set my tent up under a pavilion- the mosquitoes have been so bad this past week so I caved and started using just the screen portion of my tent. By still sleeping under a pavilion I am still able to pack up a dry tent in the morning. Well, Friday night I made the mistake of leaving a PB&J sandwich in my bag just outside ... I awoke to my PB&J spattered all over the pavilion floor. Silly skunk got it! Oh well, at least I didn't have to eat it!

I left on our last day of riding with Tim, John, Danita, Amanda and Emily. A mile out of camp we had our first flat. Amanda changed it quickly and we were back on the road, puttering our way to our 11:30 deadline at the Staten Island Ferry. 15 miles later, Amanda was overjoyed to hear her front tire spring a leak yet again! This time John took over. With his veteran 20 flats he is our pro speedy flat changer. Within 8 minutes we were fixed and back on the road.






Our route Saturday took us out of New York, into New Jersey and then back into New York again. We rode across the George Washington bridge, through Manhattan and across Staten Island. What craziness! I was impressed that we only ended up having 5 falls for the entire group!

From the George Washington Bridge


Riding through Manhattan we maneuvered through bike paths overloaded with every kind of pedestrian, cyclist, you name and we saw it! And while it was crazy and busy and overcrowded, there was a sense of charm and history to the buildings and people we passed by. I wished the walls and roads could talk, oh the stories they'd tell! Nearing the ferry we worked our way through buses and cars and motorcycles and police men and traffic lights and sightseeing tour lines and gardens and buildings to finally arrive at the ferry, frazzled but alive. Our group had had only one fall- John completed an acrobatic front cartwheel when his front tire met a post supporting a fence. His wheel stopped but the rest of him and his bike kept going until they met the concrete. After about 15 minutes of digesting all the adrenaline we was able to ride normally, although we were all incredibly shaken up. The rude and obnoxious reprimand we received for cycling in New York, all while John lay bleeding on the ground, didn't help calm us any however. But we made it!

In order to board the ferry we were sniffed by a dog ... I guess we may have had bombs or something in our bike bags, but shortly after we were walking onto the ferry. We made ourselves comfortable and were treated to beautiful sights as we sped our way from mainland New York to Staten Island were a police escort awaited us.


On the ferry!
Project hospitality was very instrumental in our
stay on Staten Island. They have been working hard in hurricane Sandy relief and it was a pleasure to learn from them. Without them our finale would not have been nearly so smooth. Our police escort of 6.5 miles brought us around to the ocean side of the island- fittingly also the epicentre of Sandy. Here we organized as quickly as such a large group can. Pranced our bikes over the hot sand and lined up to dip our tires. And that was that.


As quickly as Sea to Sea had begun, it was over. We circled up to pray and thanked our great God for a fantastic journey. For his protection. All glory be to Him!


Together with my Sea to Sea family we have crossed the continent. And what a privilege it has been to get to know each and every one of them! I have made many close friends. I have felt their support and encouragement over these last months. I quickly came to appreciate this new family of mine way back in California and now that appreciation has turned to love. I love this family. What an incredible blessing to have been part of this journey! Saturday night at our closing celebration we were tole that through our group one can see community and one can see the church ... I too have felt part of an incredible community and I have a renewed sense of hope in the church. I look forward to my next steps in life. I am saddened by the need to move forward but I feel more empowered to do so.



One of the thoughts from our reflectors devotional has continually come back to my mind over these past weeks of riding. As I sit here thinking back through those days, I truly believe that "sometimes the ride breaks you and sometimes the ride fixes what's broken." I have been broken this summer and I have experienced much healing. I have felt every emotion possible to mankind from love to annoyance, from joy to sorrow, from exhaustion to elation...

I have cried. I have laughed much. I have been annoyed. I have been frustrated. I have been utterly content. I have seen poverty. And I have simply been. Perhaps that is what I enjoyed the most on this tour- the opportunity to just be. Live has been simple- sleep, eat, bike, shower, walk, eat, sleep, eat, walk... That has been my life these last weeks.


Saturday night we discussed what we will do once we get home, what changes we may make as a result of the tour. And aside from the humorous responses about taking a long shower ... alone... with hot water ... with no one in line... we have decided to live more simply, to buy less, to downsize, to get involved, and to use the rejuvenation of the summer for the good of others through service.

So far Sea to Sea 2013 has raised a total of $1.75 million dollars - and counting! God has been good and the number of money stories and God stories during our pelotons is testimony to the wonder of community and church, of which you are a part. Saturday night we laughed, talked, enjoyed good food, and celebrated God's incredible feat.

Riding through New York Saturday, navigating across the George Washington bridge into Manhattan and answering the constant, slightly irritated question of, "where're you guys comin' from?" with an enthusiastic Los Angeles, California!!! was an elating experience! One I will not soon forget.

For some reason this summer when I would groggily awake, a song would pop into my mind and remain there for most of the ride. Saturday a song entitled, "The Well" by Casting Crowns came to mind. So through our final 60 kilometre ride to the beach on Staten Island, through the two steep hill climbs, two flats, and a fall that scared the --- out of me, snippets of the song were running through my mind... Just leave it all behind. Leave it all behind ... Come to the well. I've got what you need ... All who thirst will thirst no more ...

I think I can speak for all those involved in Sea to Sea that, if not for God, we never would have completed this trip let alone began it. We have experienced true fasting. We have spent ourselves on behalf of the poor; we have worked hard to satisfy the needs of the oppressed. And God has called us, throughout this journey, to leave it all to him. We have done what we could to help those in need. We have ridden through pain, endured many struggles - weather, people, mechanical issues, all in the name of Christ. We have done our best to be good ambassadors for His kingdom. And yes, we have failed. But we did our best, faulty though it may be. And now that we've finished this part of our journey, God is calling us to leave it all to him.

And so, as I now work to reintegrate into "normal" daily life, I will remember
this summer fondly. I will continue in this fight. I will continue to remember the many lessons I have learned these weeks and I will continue to do my best to follow my Lord wherever He leads.


I thank you for joining with me in this journey and for giving me the immense pleasure of reading your comments and meeting you. May you be richly blessed. I am undecided about whether I will be back on this blog in the future. Maybe yes, maybe no. Feel free to check back occasionally if you're interested. But until then, blessings. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

To God be the glory.
Blessings,
Christeena


Thursday, 22 August 2013

The End is in Sight ...

Well, time has continued to fly on the tour and we are down to a mere two days of cycling! Tuesday's ride into Whitehall has officially been placed in the top five of the hardest days of the ride. The headwind, continual hills, and hot temperatures combined to make for a difficult ride. Our climbing totaled a distance equal to our days in the mountains. I chose to ride alone for the day because I knew that trying to keep a group together would just add to the stress of the ride. The beautiful scenery however made up, in some way, for the inability to coast downhill due to the wind.

Our camp in Whitehall was at a marina. We camped between what looked like two separate swamps... made for an interesting evening of mosquitoes. I slept in a "rec centre." It looked like a cross between a junk room and an entertainment area. I slept in a decommissioned tanning bed. Myself, and everyone else it seems, has been getting quite a laugh out of that one! I slept so well! No mosquitoes and even a fan to move the humid air while I slept!

While exploring Whitehall, a group of friends and I witnessed a sight that I hope to never see again... two young parents fighting over who should take their young boy. I don't know the story, what they were really fighting over, and I didn't care for their language one bit nor the way the were fighting out in the middle of the street. The look on that little boy's face stopped me dead on the side of the road. Sheer terror. His mouth was wide open in a silent scream. Confusion filled his wide eyes as he frantically tried to please the commands of both his parents, running back and forth between them as they told him "Go! Go with him!!" "No! Go with her!" The horrible language, the screaming, the look in that adorable child's eyes. I stopped my bike and stared. I didn't know what to do, help him, intervene, call 911 ... My heart broke and the ice cream that I had so been hoping for lost all of its appeal....

The next day proved to be about 10 km shorter than Tuesday and we left camp with the promise that it would at least be an easier day. Wednesday proved to be a fantastic day! I joined Harry, Henny and Anja and we eventually formed a pace line to combat the constant headwind we've been dealing with since entering New York. We stopped for coffee in one of the quaint towns we passed through. About two dozen DRS workers in the area had taken a break from their work to cheer us on. It was great to ride into SAG#3 and see all those green shirts! 


One of the reasons the ride into Albany, NY was so nice was because the majority of it was alongside the Hudson River. This eliminated many of the hills as well a providing a nice scenic route for us. I didn't realize Albany was such a large town. After riding most of Monday and Tuesday through what looked like little populated mountainous areas, to come out of the mountains into Albany was quite the shock! We traversed a bridge across the Hudson and encountered our large climb of the day- getting out of the riverbed... I was grateful that the ride was nearly finished as the climb seemed to never end, but shortly after we arrived at our camp for the night- a beautiful and hospitable YMCA in Albany. We were treated to a hot tub and pool. Amanda, Danita, John, Tim, and I made good use of these facilities after a long day in the heat. Ironically, we are just now starting to get into the humidity of the summer- Iowa and Ontario are notorious for their humidity, but while riding through these placed, the temperatures were cool and the humidity low.


Thursday I pulled myself out of my tent and groggily packed up. I left camp with Danita and our exhausted legs just didn't want to cooperate. Everyone I talk to in camp is ready for the tour to come to a close. The physical exertion is taking its toll and we are all ready for a break. But we made it- all 107 km. Just two days left and both are supposed to be under 100 km distance, as much as we all love biking, the time has come and we are ready to go home.

Joann and I

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Let the Climbing Begin!

Monday morning we rode through 60 kilometers of Quebec, went through customs and entered New York State. I have to say that, as much as I love Canada, I was more than ready to leave ... the roads in Quebec left much to be desired. And, as soon as we crossed the border, our situations improved immensely. Prior to our smooth crossing we had battled through 2 miles of gravel- not just random stones here and there, but everywhere! I fishtailed most of those kilometres and, by the time we reached the cracked pavement again, my nerves were more than fried. I was sure that I would take a spill but thankfully I was able to stay upright through the entire adventure. We rode 120 kilometres and arrived at the Ausable Chasm. Since the roads had improved greatly since entering New York, the remainder of the ride was enjoyable. It was nice to have English road signs and not to constantly be watching where we were riding. The cool weather that we had enjoyed all last week has disappeared and the summer heat has returned. It makes the cycling a bit more of a challenge.
Our camp last night was a five minutes walk from views like these. Jealous? You should be! I pulled out my tent for the first time in over five weeks due to the incredible numbers of mosquitoes and I slept well. I knew that today would be a very difficult day. We were scheduled to do more climbing Tuesday than on any other day of the tour- mountain passes included. I don't think this knowledge was passed on as many found themselves riding a harder day than anticipated. It was hot. There was a strong headwind and the hills just did not let up. I found it a discouraging day. Many hills were so steep I was standing in my granny gear! By the end of the day the wind had become such a nuisance that we had to pedal to go downhill! After sweating away to reach the top, the last thing I wanted to do was pedal! Minor problems with a SAG position combined with the terrain made for a very challenging day. I never gave up, despite my desire to do so. I thank God for his grace in getting me through the day. My knees did not appreciate the experience, and neither did my butt. But I am in camp and I am grateful. So grateful! 
Please pray for the family emergencies that came up today. I am not permitted to give more details than that until all the important people are alerted, but prayer is needed. 



I enjoyed a laugh at the creativity of this name...

Crossed this bridge on the way into camp in Whitehall, NY

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Birthday!

I sit here along the wall, pillow cushioning my back. Just observing. The wall reverberates with laughter, voices, and yells of excitement. A few of the young people organized a euchre tournament and at least 36 people-old and young, male and female, new and from-the-beginning - are taking part! My heart swells as I look onto these wonderful people who have, in a way, become my life. They tease me, celebrate with me, encourage me, challenge me ... they have become like family. Our eighth week is finished. We are camped on the beautiful grounds of Kahnawake Survival School on a Mohawk Reservation just inside the Quebec border. Today we say goodbye to a number of cyclists and are welcoming a few new ones for our final stretch into New York City. This past week of riding has been as perfect as you could hope for- favourable winds, cooler temperatures but warm sun, lakeside routes and SO MUCH food! All the weight we may have lost in the first seven weeks has been re-gained this past week as we've travelled through Ontario. As Al has said, we have “eaten our way through Ontario.”

Last night my sweep team- pink- was up so I reported for duty at the specified time of 5:30 to help prep for supper ... but, due to the large numbers of newer riders that started in Grand Rapids and Ancaster on our team, I ended up doing nothing. I stood by the supper line drinking cup of tea after cup of tea looking for something to do - no luck. I finally caved and joined the cue to dish up my dinner. And, true to form, by the time I had finished eating, all the clean up had been finished!

Shortly after peloton (which I skipped- don't tell anyone!) I rolled out my tent footprint, sleeping mat, sheet, and sleeping bag on the concrete under the gear truck and gratefully fell fast asleep. We had been heartily welcomed to camp on the grounds of the NAV Centre- it used to be the facility that trained our air traffic controllers but has now been converted to a hotel. We had a sauna in our shower room! (That pretty much sums up how fantastic our stay there was). The very cool temperatures have been fantastic for sleeping and last night was perhaps the best of them all! Part of me thinks that my great sleep was due to the slight grade of the driveway and the fact that my head was just below my feet ... I awoke with a foggy head and puffy eyes. I think all the blood drained to my head overnight. Can that lead to a good night's sleep? I don't know. Either way, I slept like a log!

I awoke bright and early (5:15) on the morning of my 24th birthday to the sound of suitcases rolling and tents being packed up. Because I was on sweep I should have reported to help set up breakfast at 6:15, but from past experience I knew that non-sweep people would have had breakfast set up by 5:45 so I opted to lay in bed until 6:30 and take my time getting ready for the day, eating a relaxing breakfast and helping to pack up the truck. My official wake-up call came from John who peeked under the trailer to let me know that Alice had bought Nutella for the riders' breakfast in honour of my birthday and that I should get up soon to get some. Not being a huge Nutella fan, this didn't motivate me all that much, but I did eventually pack up and crawl out from under the truck, moving aside stray bikes in the process so I could squeeze out and stand up straight.


I left around 8 with Tim, John, Danita and Amanda for our 105 kilometer ride into Montreal, Quebec. I left having been wished “happy birthday” countless times. My attempts at hiding this knowledge from people were fruitless due to the pink ribbon that my mom had left in the trustworthy hands of Alice with the promise that she was to ensure that I wear it today. All those who were able to read the white scrawling of “birthday girl” pinned to my chest heartily gave me a hug and wished me a happy birthday. How blessed I felt for the entire day! I think that I have been sung to over 10 times today- in at least two languages!
I had been tagged with the spare tire for my birthday. Dan had found a small while tire in an intersection and it is making the rounds through the group. When you find it on your bike you have to ride for the day with it on and then you pass it on to the next unsuspecting cyclist. Thanks Brandon!

Anyway we left on our ride and I felt great! Strong, alert and ready to tackle the ride. After about 20 kilometers the tea and hot chocolate I had drunk during my “relaxing breakfast” decided to super-inflate my bladder and I have never been so relieved to see a Timmy's in my life! I swung out of the pace line, yelled over my should that I'd meet them at the SAG, and made a bee-line to the washroom. Who knew an empty bladder could feel so good!?

At SAG two I had somehow lost my group and began riding with Eric. Together we flew down the road, dodging the plethora of holes, cracks and uneven surfaces along the way. As I was leaning my bike against the road railing a sudden, unanimous chorus of “Happy birthday to you” erupted from the cyclists standing around the water jugs ... I stood awkwardly, unsure of what to do with myself as they sang, my smile reached ear to ear and my heart overflowed. Then the proceeded to sing yet again, “Bonne Fete a toi...” as we had just entered Quebec and the bilingual singing of the song must have seemed appropriate to them. I think our American brothers and sisters must have had some coaching prior to my arrival because they were belting it out with the best of them.

Carrie presented me with my very own cupcake with lit candle to blow out. I can't describe how loved I felt all day long! While the roads alternated quickly from fantastic to crappy in the blink of an eye, the company, interesting French words alongside the road, sun, cool breeze and waterfront biking, made for a fantastic ride. We arrived in camp by 12:30, I showered in a, get this, individual and HOT shower- how's that for a birthday gift!? I then walked over to Timmy's and was treated to some birthday treats.

Supper was followed by multiple birthday cakes and the day was topped off with a hand-made card from my cousin signed by every single family member I possess. To be honest I teared up reading their best wishes. I am humbled by all the love showered on me today. Two chocolates pressed into my hand and a hug by the camp nurse- Bev. A chocolate from Bonita. Dozens of hugs. Bunches of “happy birthdays.”

I am utterly exhausted. I plan to crash under the gear truck again and I hope for another fantastic sleep. Tomorrow we are venturing into downtown Montreal where we have coordinated a celebration at a large church there. I am excited to see what is in store for us. Our buses are planning to stagger their return times so those who want to can wander around the downtown for a while. I am torn whether I will do this or not as I have been to Montreal before.

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Wind at Our Backs



I made arrangements to ride Wednesday from Trenton to Kingston with Jessica. We were planning to leave later than I usually do so I worked hard to sleep in until 6:45 and take my time during breakfast. The previous night we had been challenged to ride the entire 113 kilometers of the route with only one gear. It was to help give us a bit of a picture of what it may be like to be stuck in the cycle of poverty. We took the first kilometer to figure out which gear we would like to stick with and off we went. The first half of the day was full of novelty. We enjoyed the puttering of coasting down hills and straining over the next incline. My knees were thankful for the easy spinning the the day mostly consisted of. The hills were nearly non-existent ... until we had to climb up to the Lake on the Mountain. The route to the lake had been described as full of switchbacks so I immediately remembered our mountain climbing experiences. So Jessica and I had decided that we would either ride up the whole way in one gear or walk it ... just to maintain the idea of not being able to change gears. I was okay with this decision only because this journey was off route and I could still say that I had biked the whole way... yeah, I know I'm crazy. Well we made it up that hill in our single gear... sure we were huffing and puffing, but we made it!

Lake on the Mountain was extremely interesting. It is a lake that exists on a higher elevation of the lake right beside it... no one has quite figured out how it is able to stay at that elevation and even how it was formed. I was fascinated hearing about all the Native American legends that had formed around that lake.


Shortly after flying down the short climb back to the main road, we took a ferry across the river. It was part of the highway system so we didn't have to pay. Once crossing we waited around for the next ferry that was carrying the kitchen and gear trucks across. After the excitement of watching their loading on the Sombra Ferry, I was hoping for some more excitement, but it did not happen.

We continued on our merry way with our single gears. By the last quarter of our mileage however we were both becoming very sick of our lack of gear options. The small hills became annoying as we couldn't gain the speed we knew we could have descending if we simply changed gears. By the time we arrived in camp we were sick and tired of having no way of getting out of our single gear. Even the little things were getting on our nerves. I found it a great analogy for me ... the novelty quickly wore off and I could have changed gears if I really wanted too, but those in poverty are stuck in that cycle.




On Thursday we had a very short day from Kingston to Brockville ... only 83 kilometers. Because it was so short many of us opted to take the 1000 Island Boat Tour. I left early and ended up arriving about an hour and 15 minutes before I needed to so I went on a Timmy's run with Carrie, one of our SAG drivers. It was a fantastic experience! The beauty of this area continues to overwhelm me.

The only down turn of the day was that one of our riders -Len -fell. He flipped over his handlebars and thankfully only has scratches and bruises. When we got off the ferry we all went into a simulaneous tizzy as we realized that our helmets were missing... we quickly learned that someone had tied them all together. I found this prank to be fantastic, others were not so amused. The saying of the tour for me has been, "Let it Roll."






Today is Friday. We rode yet another short day from Brockville to Cornwall. Only 105 kilometers. Thursday night myself and three others decided to sleep on the dock. It was a gorgeous area and, although we woke up soaked with dew, the beauty more than made up for the work of trying all our bedding in the sun.

I left late this morning as I was invited to join others at a bakery for free breakfast. After breakfast we rode 10 kilometers down the road found yet another food stop- cinnamon buns and boiled eggs. I can't tell you how many times I stopped today. I took my time, rode alone and thoroughly enjoyed my day. I rode around Fort Wellington, browsed through a very old cemetery and perused through the displays at the site of teh Battle at John Crysler's Farm.

Many of the cyclist participated in a time trial- a race against the clock today. I decided not to do it, I just didn't want to, no particular reason. I enjoyed my relaxing day and still got into camp by 1:30!

This weekend we are in Montreal and only have one more week of cycling left! How the time has flown! Things are rolling along in planning the final closing time in New York next weekend. Please pray as we all are working to prepare ourselves for the transition back to 'normal life.' It will be a challenge for all of us. I knew I will miss this new family I have developed ... I may not miss cycling for a while ... but the people I will definitely miss. This sense of family has been spectacular and I thank God for it.

On an unrelated note, I think I forgot to mention that a couple of weeks ago we received word from my uncle. He is alive and well and doing just fine. He simply lost track of time exploring a distance culture. I thank you all for your prayers, your support has been amazing.

Below are some odd and ends pictures. Enjoy!

























Clarence and the infamous tutu. If you are given it or it is found in your tent you have to wear it for an hour before passing it on. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Savour

Toronto, Ontario
Monday night we were treated to a talk from the infamous "Second Peter"- the chaplain of the '05 tour who wrote the book "In Tandem." He spoke about many things but the part the stuck with me was his comment about Savouring the rest of the ride. "You have less than two weeks left of the tour, and the time is going to continue flying by. Savour it. Take the time to enjoy the ride." And so I am. We rode 133 kilometers yesterday. Most of it was along the shoreline of Lake Erie. It was a cooler day, beautiful sun and some pretty steep climbs. I arrived in camp after my usual time because of the number of church stops along the way. I felt like I could roll myself into camp that night- that's how full I was! We had at least three food stops- one with sloppy joes, another with oillibollen (misspelled - I'm sorry!), and another with jars and jars of candy! I was amazed all day long with the constant support of the area churches. All along the route, around nearly every turn, there was another couple of people cheering us on.

I rode for the morning with Tim, John, and Danita. Between the second and third church stops, John caught a glance at a dark cloud looming on the horizon and off he went. It was like he shot out of a canon. For the next hour he averaged 22 miles per hour! It was all I could do to hang on the back of that pace line! About 15 minutes out I lost them on a steeper incline and wound up riding into the church stop alone. Part of me wishes I could have held on because they missed the rain storm and I ended up getting quite a drenching. Although it was oddly refreshing. We ate more than I needed there waiting for a second storm to pass over and then we left for another race into camp. 8 kilometers out of camp I had my second flat of the tour (crazy, eh?) and John and Tim were nice enough to wait for me while I changed it. I'm not sure as to the cause of the flat and couldn't feel any specific puncture areas. So I cleaned out what I could and put in the new tube. No more air loss over night or during the ride today so I must have removed whatever caused that flat.

Most of us were exhausted when we arrived in camp in Trenton last night for whatever reason. Many of those who joined us in Ancaster are now starting to feel the days add up... one on the other. I cleaned the rain-grime off my bike, showered, washed clothes, stuffed myself yet again and took a long nap... it was next to impossible to get up for supper. But I did knowing that if I didn't eat, there would be no way my growling stomach would let me sleep through the night. The area churches treated us to yet another delicious dessert social. Sadly, I was so full that I couldn't even eat any of it.

Just after the beginning of peloton, my hero Jasper arrived after finishing the day's ride. He had done 53 kilometers of it on his unicycle!! He was challenged to do so for extra donations. What an amazing feat. Having ridden yesterday I know how difficult it must have been to ride 50 KILOMETERS on a unicycle!



Monday, 12 August 2013

123 Kilometres of Urban

You could not ask for a better cycling day- cool temperatures, tail wind, full sun, fantastic scenery, an easy distance and the occasional hill thrown in for adventure. Saturday we rode 60 km from Breslau to Ancaster, Ontario. It took a mere 2.5 hours, with a church food stop thrown in! We cyclists took our time getting ready Saturday morning as we knew how easy the day should be. Many took their time over breakfast- myself included, although because I get up early, it doesn't seem so. We had a lot of “day riders” joining us for the ride to Ancaster so the roads buzzed with excitement. Ever since entering Canada, the saying has come true: we truly are “eating our way through Ontario.” It seems that everyone wants to feed us or welcome us or congratulate us. And it is so wonderful!

Staying for the weekend at Redeemer University College was such a blessing. Not only because they truly rolled out the red carpet for us but because it was like coming home for me. The area was all familiar and I still knew many of the staff that worked to settle us in our dorms. I was even housed in my second-year dorm! How crazy is that? Oh, and get this... my bed was MADE for me!! I didn't have to make my own bed all weekend!! Talk about the royal treatment.

The weekend is such a blessing. One learned to appreciate a day off after six days of back to back riding. Don't get me wrong, I love riding, absolutely love it. But the body was built to take only so much. With the number of kilometres we are traveling each day, I don't think our muscles have an appropriate amount of time to recover all the way. Thus I feel I am on a perpetual cycle of exhaustion and partial recovery. Each weekend I am able to give my muscles some time to recover and prepare for the next week's rides. But I never feel quite recovered 100%. Saturday night, after cleaning and lubing my bike, Amanda, Danita and I decided to go our for supper. It was so nice to sit down for a meal with a roof over my head! The next 6 hours were taken up with my American friends' first Tim Hortons experience and ride on a city bus. We then spent some time perusing books in Chapters, capping off our night with a movie.

After a fantastic night's sleep we were treated to a delicious breakfast from Redeemer's Campus Services. Having to eat such large quantities of food in order to maintain my body weight has become exhausting. Those of you who know me know that I love to eat! But the amount of chewing and swallowing I find myself having to do to keep the hole in my stomach full is simply exhausting!

Sunday afternoon was the highlight of the weekend. I spent about an hour and a half puttering around making sure things were set for the celebration that was to take place at 3 AM. I was finally able to meet in person those that I have been emailing these last months. I had been praying for a good turnout and- wow- I was not disappointed. By 3 in the afternoon the auditorium at Redeemer was packed! To the rafters! Walking in with the cyclists, we were overwhelmed at the support of the area churches. Over a 1000 brothers and sisters had come out to celebrate with us. The joy of the Lord overflowed around me the entire service. I found myself near tears many times and cannot help but praise our Lord for his abundant goodness! What a joyful noise we made! The music team was simply phenomenal! We heard from Todd Bender, founder of City Kidz, and his words were truly the words God meant for us to hear.


During peloton that afternoon we officially welcomed 40 new riders who will be joining us for either one or both weeks remaining of the tour. 

Peloton in Breslau. We are doing our small group challenge. The object was to do something creative using noises produced by our bicycle... the creativity of my fellow cyclists was incredible!
Today began week 8. I don't know how the time flies by so fast, but we have only 11 days of cycling left! On August 25 we will be packed up and heading our separate ways!

We rode through Toronto and the GTA today. It was 123 kilometres of dodging fellow cyclists, joggers, vehicles, construction zones, hopping curbs, weaving in and out... and we made it safely about 6 hours later at our camp in Ajax. Yet again we were overwhelmed with local church support. We had three food/drink stops and innumerable groups of friends cheering us on from the sidelines. With two pages of directions to follow and an incredibly complicated section of construction to navigate, I have been surprised at the few number of people who have gotten lost. Two of these lost cyclists found themselves 5 kilometers off route when a passing cyclist showed them where to get back on route- he even accompanied them the entire way! Way to go Canadians!


Not one time today did we leave the "city." We rode from one suburb to the next, from one city to the next. They melded together. The constant stopping and starting at stoplights wore on my knees and I am now working on icing and resting them. The Ajax community centre has allowed us to camp out on their grounds. We are conveniently placed in the middle of all the town's hubbub.


It has been such a blessing to participate in Sea to Sea yet again. As the end comes into sight, I am working to incorporate the lessons I have learned into my daily life- to work hard to not let this experience be forgotten. I encourage you to think of something you have learned through joining with us on this journey across the continent to raise awareness for those in need. How will you ensure that these lessons will not be forgotten when Sea to Sea comes to a close?

It has been great to meet those of you along the route who have been reading my blog! And I am honoured that you would take time out of your busy schedules to read my ramblings. Blessings to you my friends. Your continued prayers and support do not go unnoticed. 

Blessings.