Friday, 2 August 2013

One Day. Three States.

Yesterday we rode from Illinois, through Indiana, and into Michigan. Illiana Christian High School put on a delicious breakfast for us. After packing up and getting dressed while half-awake, I filled up on pancakes, fruit and eggs. I had joined Adam, Julie, Ryan, Shannon, and Marc for breakfast. Once my stomach reached the "over-full" point I made my lunch and joined Adam -my riding buddy for the day- on the road. We had 141 kilometres to ride and over 99 turns to make to get to Benton Harbor, MI... it was nice to have a co-rider to help avoid missing a turn.

The majority of our ride was on bike trails or residential roads. After Tuesday's wet and rainy weather and Wednesday's misty and cool weather, Thursday's sunny weather was a delightful experience! The roads we wet and sprayed up onto our nicely cleaned bikes, but that didn't matter. The sun was shining and life was great. The winds even cooperated and a tailwind accompanied us all the way to Benton Harbor. Adam explained that Benton Harbor is divided from St. Joe's by a river and has historically been also been a racial divide. The intense racism of decades past still exists there sadly, and the poverty was obvious. Because we biked through St. Joe's to get to Benton Harbor, I got to see an almost night and day change in the housing landscape- rich condos to rundown buildings. Lighthouse Ministries, a CRC and RCA ministry, welcomed Sea to Sea with open arms. We were housed in a beautiful and historic church building complete with secret hallways and dark corners- the perfect child's hide-and-seek place. A house of peace amidst bankrupcy, poverty, broken down buildings and windows.

Stumbled upon a "Welcome to Michigan" sign spraypainted onto the road so we jimmy-rigged a stand out of our bikes to take a picture.
Yesterday evening a group of new cyclists joined us. About five young teenagers and their mentors from Immanuel church in Grand Rapids have joined us for their own tour from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. We performed a small bike dipping ceremony on the shores of Lake Michigan. It is neat to have some new blood on the tour- particularly youthful blood. I've already found their excitement and energy contagious and am excited to get to know them in the next few days. Six of us rode out of camp to the beach ahead of these new joiners to scope out the beach and to cheer them on as they arrived. True to form, the schedule time was too early so we waded in the waters of Lake Michigan for a while... no one complained about that I can assure you! We were able to watch the riders arrive, take photos and pray with them as they start their journey with us. The gear is quite different and much more limited so their speed will most likely be slower and more methodical, but they have more youth on their side. I have no doubt of their enjoyment of this trip.

Rachel, Adam, Mike, Zach and Marc
Prayer time for the Cyclists

This is what you get when there are limited showers- some opt to bathe in Lake Michigan!
 Our trip today (Friday) from Benton Harbor to Holland, MI was finally the distance we expected- under 100 km. Our supposed average of 75 miles this week has no chance of happening at this point given the long days we put in Monday through Thursday. It was a relief to go to sleep last night knowing that two biking days remained of the week and both of them are shorter. Since we lost another hour last night (we are now in the Eastern Time Zone!), I slept well ... until 2:38 am when the deafening sound of snoring blasted past my earplugs. Normally I can focus, ignore the sound and fall back asleep. Not so last night. After a sleepless 20 minutes I gathered my pillow, sleeping bag, sheet and mat and portaged myself to a more remote section of the church. It turns out that I didn't move far enough because, as soon as I had snuggled back into my sleeping bag, my new neighbour let out a deafening snore. While this person's snoring was not nearly as regular as my last neighbour's, the irregularity of his snoring outbursts rattled my nerves too much. So, yet again, I gathered my belongings and trudged my way down a hallway, around the corner, up a flight of stairs, through another set of doors and snuggled down to sleep. No sooner had I closed my eyes then guess what? I had found another snorer! How is that possible!? Thankfully this snorer was more of the "deep-breather" kind and my earplugs finally worked their magic. I fell asleep and remained asleep until those 5:15 zippers beat my alarm clock by half an hour.

I left camp this morning with the understanding that we had a 30% chance of rain. Well, two kilometers from camp, the skies opened and for the next 96 kilometers the heavens rained down upon us. So much for the 30% chance of rain. I made a major mistake in wearing a sleeveless jersey this morning. I brought no coat or arm warmers and consequently was struggling with freezing fingers... among other body parts. Within minutes of the rain starting I was soaked. And I remained soaked all day. Here I must thank our SAG volunteers from the bottom of my heart. They literally give the clothes of their backs for us. Carrie, my newest hero, gave me her raincoat at SAG 1. If not for her I would have been drenched, cold and perhaps sick right now. So thank you Carrie!

Wayne, Rod and I safely made it to Holland where Hope College is graciously allowing us to use their dorms. A hot shower, clean clothes and a hoodie make a big difference in my comfort level!

Well, tomorrow we journey to "Jerusalem." Complete with peloton and celebration service, our stay in Grand Rapids promises to be a fun, exciting and busy time. For those of you reading from Ontario, we are now five days from crossing!

Harvey, the man to took a spill on Wednesday, is back on route today. He has a goose egg on his head, gash on his chin and broken handlebars. God is good. I thank God for his protection!

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