Sunday, August 25, 2013

Crossing the Finish Line

Saturday. The last day.

It was still a good day's ride, as it was 23 miles to get to George Washington Bridge, where we got our first sight of NYC. In those 23 miles, there were still five good hills to climb, still green and lush, yet so close to the Big Apple. After crossing the bridge, we were in Manhattan. It was still another 15 miles to get to Staten Island Ferry terminal. We rode along the right side of Manhattan, following the Hudson River. A good portion was bike path, filled with other cyclists and joggers. We passed by the new Freedom Tower, but had no time to explore the city. At 11:30 we boarded the ferry.

After the ferry to Staten Island, which is part of NYC, we had a police escort to the beach. After 6 miles we reached the beach, a place where Hurricane Sandy landed nearly a year ago. At the beach we dipped out tires into the ocean. We had made it from sea to sea. It was a very emotional time. Many family and friends were there, including John and Nancy from our church. (They had already arrived the day before and met me at last night's campground. They are bringing me home--thank you for doing that!)

After the short dipping in ceremony, we still had a 10 mile ride to our overnight accommodations. Again this was done with a police escort. That night we had a banquet and a program to mark the end of this journey.

It's hard to believe that I cycled from sea to sea, that it is now over and that I am now home. The last nine weeks have flown by, or should I say cycled by so fast. I have met new friends and was part of a worthy cause--cycling to end poverty. I now have to adjust to life back at home and in ministry.

Thank you for all the support that I have received--financial, emotional, and spiritual. It's been a great ride.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Getting to the Finish Line

Perhaps one more factor on Tuesday's tough day: the wind. As we are heading south from Montreal, we could not expect any tailwind. Instead, we had steady crosswinds, as well as some sections of headwinds. It just added to the challenge.

We are basically following the Hudson Valley into NYC. On Thursday we did just over a 120 kms. It was a  little more hilly than Wednesday but also more scenic. The campground had a pool, but we couldn't use it, as it was closer for the season already. Yet, for us, it was our most humid day of trip.

Friday was a shorter day--about 100 kms. But it did have one very good hill in the middle, which took twenty minutes of hard climbing, followed by a quick descent. I am surprised by the green rolling hills around the Hudson Valley.

Tomorrow we will ride into NYC, going through Manhattan, crossing to Staten Island, where we will  have the dipping in ceremony. Then it will be over. John and Nancy will be picking me up and before you know it I will be back home.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New York State

Finally Internet again.

The journey continues into its final week. On Monday we left Quebec and entered into New York State. The border crossing was at a basic country road. It seemed strange to bike up to the border guards, whose main question was: How was I able to get nine weeks off to do this trip. It seemed as if the landscape changed quickly as we left Quebec. In Quebec the roads were flat and in poor condition, but in NY state it became more hilly, but at least the roads improved.

It was a 120 km ride to Ausable Chasm, where we camped. We arrived in time for us to hike the Chasm. We walked around the Chasm and Falls for about two hours (as if we needed the exercise). It was very beautiful and well worth the admission fee.

Tuesday: A tough day
Ontario with its short distances, flat roads and generous hospitality made us soft for today's challenging day. Yes, we endured the rolling hills of Iowa and the mountain passes of Colorado, but today we faced the hills of NY. Today, we climbed 6400 feet, one of our highest days of the trip--though at the end of the day we were at the same elevation as when we started. They may have been short but some were steep. I saw more people walking their bikes up then all the other days combined. The day was also the hottest in two weeks--about 95 on the old scale. The length was just over 130 kms.

Having said that it was a tough day, it was an enjoyable day. The beginning hills were fun, as I even enjoyed the descents on those. The scenery was spectacular--one of the top five days of the trip. The Champlain lake on the left, with the Adirondack hills on the right. The views were great, though my pictures (check out all my pictures at will not do them justice, nor did I take many of them (didn't want to stop too often on hills). Bonita and I took the one mile detour to take the short ferry ride to Vermont. We quickly took a picture by the sign and got on the same ferry back. (Less than 10 people took this option). The last section was not as spectacular but then we were getting tired to appreciate it. We arrived at camp at 3:30, a campground that was quite run down.

Wednesday: an easier day.
It was back to the three of us riding today (as Joel joined us again). It was a 120 kms to Albany. The route was much flatter than yesterday. The scenery was less impressive, though we passed by the Erie Canal as well as the Hudson River. Our campsite is at YMCA, which has an indoor pool, hot tub and sauna, as well as WiFi! It was great to relax and unwind in the hot tub. It certainly lifted my spirits.

We are beginning to look ahead to the finish line, which is soon upon us. NYC here we come!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


It was a short 103 km ride from Cornwall to the South shore of Montreal. The route along the river was quite nice. The place where we stayed was the Kahnawake Survival School on the Mohawk reserve on the south shore. The organizers were having a very difficult place finding a spot for us to camp in the area and this was a last minute find. The school was established by the Mohawks after the Quebec government forced French only in the schools in the 1970s. In the reserve, English is spoken along with their native language ( and so traffic signs are in those two languages, not French).

In the late afternoon, I joined six other older men in going to old Montreal. We found a lovely spot to eat a great meal. It was expensive but very enjoyable. Good conversations were had, as well as much laughter. After dinner, we walked around the old port area, taking in the night life. It was a delightful evening.

The next day, Sunday, three buses came to bring us all into Montreal. We worshipped at the Church Of St. Andrew and St. Paul, a Presbyterian church just beside Mc Gill University. The members of the Montreal CRC also joined the congregation. The church was a large historic building and the organ could pump out the volume. At the service I met Josh and Vicky Vanderveen, as well as Pastor Jake.

The buses then were to bring us to the old port part of the city. But traffic was a mess because of a parade. The buses had to turn around. After thirty minutes we were right back where we started. We finally arrived one hour and 12 minutes later. It was very frustrating. We could have walked there faster and seen the city better. It left less than three hours to explore the old section of Montreal. At 5pm, we were bused back to camp. That took 50 minutes.

It was disappointing to waste so much time on the bus. For the first time, I really wanted this ride to be finished. I wanted to get back to my usual routines at home, rather than be subject to the dynamics of a group cycling tour. The end is in sight. Just one more week of biking. It may be a challenging week. After the flat roads of Ontario, we are about to hit the hills of New York State. Tomorrow we cross the border and hopefully that will be smooth sailing.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Thursday was a short day--only 83 kms to Brockville. Because we had plenty of time, most of us took a boat tour of the Thousand Islands, from Ganaquoe. It lasted an hour and brought us around the famous Boldt Castle. It was a good break from biking. We still arrived in plenty of time in Brockville, so I walked downtown to Tait's Bakery and enjoyed a herbal tea and cake, while doing some Internet. The Brockville CRC made dinner for us--stomppate and sausage. I got to see Pastor Jack and Jane VandenHoef there.

Friday was a day I was looking forward to for a long time-- biking through home territory. As I got closer to Iroquois, I certainly sped up. The first people I met were Tim and Birgit, at their driveway. As I was greeting Tim, he was introducing himself to me, as if he did not know who I was. He did not recognize me with my new beard and cycling gear. He was not the only one who had to look twice today to recognize me. I met a few more at Iroquois and then the big crowd in Morrisburg. It was good to see so many people from church, some of my ministerial colleagues, as well as some community people at the Playhouse. I stayed there for over an hour. But eventually I had to move on. After all, I had to get to Cornwall. I managed to catch up to my biking partners and we took the bike trail into Cornwall.

Lindsey picked me for the open house and potluck at the church. It was good to see even more people that night. I didn't have time to talk fully with everyone but your presence was an encouragement to me. Brent took me back to camp, where he met some riders from his trip in 08.

I decided not to enter my house, let alone sleep there that night. I needed to have the same routine on Saturday. I was also concerned that if I was home, I might not want to get back to camp. Home will be there, when the tour ends. That's in just over a week. It's hard to believe we are coming to the finish line.

I want to thank all those who were involved in setting up the welcome in Morrisburg. My fellow cyclists certainly appreciated it, as did I. The churches in Ontario have indeed been very hospitable. Thank you also to those involved in the potluck that night. It all reinforces the fact that I have a strong community supporting me in this journey. I could not have done it without your support and encouragement. Thank you again.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Getting closer to home

Tuesday and Wednesday's rides are getting me closer to home.

Tuesday was a 132 km ride from Ajax to Trenton. It was a longer day, taking from 7:30 to 3:30. The main reason for that was the three church stops along the way. Each church put on some food, including sloppy joes at the second and even olibolen at the third. It's a good thing we are biking so much given the amount of food we are eating. We also eat great at night. We got a touch of rain in the afternoon, but otherwise it was a nice day. We stayed at Trenton Christian School, where I found a nice quite place to sleep.

Wednesday was a 114 ride from Trenton to Kingston, going through Bloomfield and Picton, an area south of the 401, i had never been before. We made a stop at "lake on the mountain" park, where a small lake sits above the bay below. We had to use the ferry to continue on the Loyalist parkway. Another church stop today. About 30 kms from the end, my biking partners, Bonita and Joel, and I stopped for a quick swim. At supper tonight, members from the two Kingston churches brought salad and dessert.

Looking ahead to Friday, I am aiming to bike through Iroquois at 9:30 and Morrisburg at 10. But this is subject to change, depending on departure time, wind, flats and how long I stay at stops. I need to be in Cornwall and ready to leave for the open house at the church for 4pm. We'll see how the day goes.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Relaxing at Redeemer...

Yes, time to write again.

It was a very relaxing time at Redeemer College. It was a very short ride from Woodland Christian School (in Breslau) to Redeemer. We arrived before noon. There was I greeted by an old friend, Mary Ann. She brought me to her house, where I could catch up with her husband, Ken. They lend me Mary Ann's mother's car ( who was in BC and so not using it.) It was great to have some wheels. I used the opportunity to take the Stehouwer's boys to Niagara Falls. the youngest two had not seen it before. It was a great escape.

The highlight on Sunday was the Celebration service. The auditorium was full (about a thousand people). Afterwards, I got to meet some old seminary friends from years ago. In addition, Ralph and Marge were also there. We also spent some time together.

It was a relaxing weekend. But Monday meant back on the bikes. We biked from Ancaster to Ajax, going through Toronto. Though it was only 122 kms, it took from 7:30 to 3:30 to complete--slower than usual. That's because of many lights, a couple of times of trying to fins out way through the trails and construction detours in Toronto, as well as just enjoying the ride. It is remarkable to think that we crossed the GTA by bikes.

Monday night we are staying in Ajax. The local MPP came and presented plaques to the three riders from Ajax, as well as to the local CRC pastor, speaking highly of the work of the church in this community.

I want to thank everyone for the many birthday greetings I received today. I look forward to seeing many of the congregation on Friday.