Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Grants Dispersed 2

A quarter of the money raised by Sea to Sea cyclist, including myself was allocated into 45 grants for different organizations working for poverty alleviation. Here is the news release:

On April 29, 2009 the Christian Reformed Church Foundation met and considered 51 new grant proposals for the Sea to Sea poverty alleviation fund. By the end of the meeting the Foundation awarded 45 grants and in so doing, awarded all of the designated funds. This is in addition to the previous grants already awarded. It is bittersweet to end this project. We praise God that these funds are available and can be used to assist people in so many communities struggling with poverty, but the board wished there were more funds to distribute. There were so many wonderful projects!

Because of the number of applications and the distribution from Canadian and U.S. organizations, the Foundation board set the maximum grant to U.S. organizations at $7500 and kept the Canadian maximum grant at $10,000. The Foundation board gave priority to applications from CRC or RCA congregations and from those specifically endorsed by a Sea to Sea cyclist.

In total, the Sea to Sea poverty alleviation fund supported 55 projects with about $360,000. Praise God! Thank you cyclists and donors for this stunning outcome.
To see the full list of grants awarded go to this page.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Grants Dispersed

This past month the first ten projects received funds from the quarter of the funds set aside for local organizations.

This is exciting and inspiring, especially considering how each grant is basically provided by one cyclist's network of family and friends.

Here is the news release:

The Christian Reformed Church is pleased to announce it has awarded more than $89,000 in Sea to Sea grant funding to 10 deserving projects across North America so far. Of the $1.5 million in proceeds raised by the Sea to Sea 2008 Bike Tour last summer, a significant portion—about $350,000—was entrusted to the Christian Reformed Church Foundation to be awarded in grants for poverty-related programs according to guidelines pre-approved by the Sea to Sea steering committee. This is the first group of projects that has received grant money from that fund.

The CRC Foundation Board met on February 25, 2009, to look over the first 10 grant proposals. At this meeting, the Board decided to cap the gift amount at $10,000 per project, which was within the guidelines, thereby spreading this money out to many communities across the U. S. and Canada. The first group of ten grants totaled $89,920.

With the current economic situation, many organizations have sent in their applications and we expect the remainder of the money to be awarded this year. If you are working on a grant request for Sea to Sea, please send it in to the contact on the application form by April 15th so that the Board can consider it at its next meeting on April 29th. After that meeting, the Board will report all the requests that have received funding, as well as if there is any money left.
To see the full list of grants awarded go to this page.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Reflections and Final Post

I have wanted to right a post about my reflections on this summer, however I wanted to have time to allow my thoughts to stew. Now I have had plenty of time to think about it.

Here is a Wordle, which is a mesh of all the popular words from this blog (made on

Sea to Sea Wordle

First as usual, let’s start with some statistics:

Time riding: 272 hours
Average Daily Riding Time: 5:08
Max Speed: 50.8 mph
Number of days: 62 total; 53 riding; 7 days of rest
Flat tires (replaced tube): 5
Number of tires used: 3
Number of days with lots of climbing: 10 with a total of 134,874 feet of climbing

List of Climbs:

Day 2 Stevens Pass, WA 4,061' elev.
Day 3 Blewett Pass, WA 4,102
Day 9 Deadman Pass, Cabbage Hill, OR (2,000' climb on Emigrant Rd.)
Day 20 Little Mtn. Pass, UT (Emigration Canyon Road) 6,236
Day 20 Parleys Summit, UT (I-80) 7,038
Day 22 Wolf Creek Summit, UT 9,450
Day 25 Rabbit Ears Pass, CO 9,485
Day 27 Berthoud Pass, CO 11,315
Day 27 Floyd's Hill, CO 7,900 (700-800' steep climb US40)
Day 61 High Point, NJ 1,940 (6,900 feet of climbing that day)

2008-07-06 Day 8 Kennewick to Pendleton (42)

News stories that mentioned me:

Dave Teitsma, of Grand Rapids, Mich., also wondered initially how the bike tour and poverty go together. “There seemed to be a disparity to me,” he said. “But I’m excited to see how so many of the riders and those that are supporting us and hosting us really have a heart for the poor and they understand that this is about so much more than biking.”

Teitsma said the hospitality in Madison was wonderful. “Even coming into the church there were signs along the road that said things like ‘Give poverty a flat tire.’ It’s obvious they understand why we’re doing this.” Source

Here’s another:

Despite the difficulty of linking to the Internet from some rural areas of Oregon, rider Dave Teitsma was able to post a blog for Thursday, in which he describes the challenge of the trek. "The last few days were tiring and took a lot of determination. Once I got on the road, though, knowing that it was a shorter day, my attitude was more positive."

Teitsma, of Grand Rapids, Mich., had decided on Wednesday night to bike alone so he could go at a slower pace on Thursday and be able to take in the beauty of the terrain they went through.

"After the first 20 miles I decided to stop for coffee. I don't really drink coffee but I thought it would be a great way to slow down and enjoy the town I was passing through," he writes.

"It was relaxing to sit, look and take in all the sights. I made a point of the next three cities to stop and do a little sight seeing, or to just slow down at least. In Haines, I went to the local museum which had many pieces that had so many stories of where they had been and what they were used for." Source

I was also mentioned in :

2008-07-06 Day 8 Kennewick to Pendleton (38)

I brought my heart rate monitor along on the trip but didn’t wear it everyday. When I started the trip it averaged around 150 for the day. However by the end of the trip it averaged around 135. I didn’t keep track so this isn’t too precise, but no matter how you cut it, my heart and lungs were much more efficient by the end of the trip.

I saw a clear difference in my breathing. While biking after the tour, I took a lot less breathes throughout the day and it took a lot more to get out of breath. Since the tour I have lost the level of fitness that I developed during the tour. This was expected as I couldn’t continue biking 30 hours biking a week after the tour. I think I was the strongest this year about 3 weeks after the tour was done. I remember biking around town faster than I ever have. It was exhilarating!

Almost every town that we biked through the first few weeks of the tour told us how they were experiencing record breaking temperatures. It was hot. Especially when crawling up a mountain at 7 mph, when you’re not moving fast enough to be cooled by a breeze in your face.

Some days to avoid the heat I was up and biking by 6am, before the sun even rose. It was hard getting up, but it was even harder biking when you feel like you’re baking alive on the road!

We were blessed with great weather though. Even though it was very hot some days and cold towards the end of the tour we only experienced a couple of days where we had to ride in the rain. Most of the time that it rained it was a Sunday or night.

2008-06-30 Day 2 Sultan to Leavensworth 036

We were also blessed with safety. Even though several people left the tour because of severe falls, no one suffered permanent injuries. I remember cycling to Palos Heights in very dangerous traffic and along side impatient careless drivers. Also day 40 biking to Fennimore, the roads where horrible and traffic was dangerous. Both days along with many other days, I was worried and prayed for safety for the bikers, as I felt that it was entirely possible that I could arrive at camp and find that a biker had been killed along the route. Thankfully there were only two falls that included vehicles.

One cyclist fell into the middle of a busy road that was constant cars the whole day. Oddly, when he fell the road was clear and he was safe. All of the cyclists were thankfully and knew that God was supported this tour and protecting us even when any of us made bad and unsafe decisions. It’s great to know that God fully supported this tour, but more specifically supported our cause and yearns to see poverty end.

Even though each cyclists signed a statement that included banned us from listening to music while riding, several cyclists did regularly. It was their choice, but I was frustrated as someone spread the rumor that I listened to music a lot while I was biking. Many days I wanted to, but I never did. Okay, it feels good to get that off my chest.

Even though there were many days that we saw beautiful landscapes, waterfalls, wildlife, and stunning plains, there were many days that were the opposite that included long straight stretches of road with nothing to look at. Before the trip, I thought that I would go crazy thinking and planning my life, relationships, and other profound thoughts. Looking back I realize that I did muse some but most of the time I just biked and focused on getting to camp soon, thought about pictures to take, and not getting lost.

2008-07-16 Day 17 Gooding to Burley 055 Stitch

I also enjoyed the lack of talk of politics and the pending election. I was shocked once I arrived back home after the tour about how we never talked about it and the media at home discussed it endlessly (ugghh).

Before the tour, I imagined that I would bike until about four and would get to camp and then have plenty of time to explore the town, find some tourist attractions, and take in the sights. Even though I usually arrived to camp by four I was too tired and too busy setting up my tent, showering, blogging, cleaning / maintaining my bike, and preparing for the next day. Instead I explored during the day.

I wrote a post with pictures on my blog for each day of the tour, which was one of my goals. I’m very glad I did this, as I have a great day by day record of the tour which will help greatly in my photo book that I’m beginning to make. Organizing my pictures, posting them online, and writing daily blog posts took significant time. Read that again! It took a lot of time! It was very valuable though as I know many people lived vicariously through it, and loved following along! Also, I received a lot of encouragement from people that following my blog. And many people complimented me and my pictures.

2008-07-16 Day 17 Gooding to Burley 017 Stitch

Interestingly, several times people that were on the side of the road or at celebration services who I hadn’t previously known, would tell me that they read my blog or looked at my pictures. Also, many family and friends consistently told me that they were following along, and praying for me. This encouraged me to keep biking and spending energy putting pictures online and writing blog posts. What a blessing.

Random thoughts:

  • The tour director / organizer Ed Witvoet planned and amazing tour and paid attention to many details that made for a flawless tour. Thanks' Ed!
  • I bought and brought too much clothing for biking in the cold. It was hot, except for the last week, when I just layered my warm weather clothing to stay warm.
  • I noted that I took too much ‘stuff’. I actually took less than the average person took, but I could have completed the tour without several items. But I don’t think I would have known what not to take until the tour was done.
  • We all ate a lot of food, especially when we climbed a lot through the mountains. The week we biked through Wisconsin to Michigan, when the days were shorter and easier I ate a considerable amount less food (except for the deep dish pizza at Trinity).
  • I memorized various Bible verses and would recite them when I needed something besides the drudgery of the road to think about. This helped a lot when climbing mountains!

Many people thing that all 100+ people biked together in one big group each day. There were only a handful of times that we all biked together. During the normal day, we woke up and left when we wanted to and arrived at camp when we wanted to. We just had to check off our name when we arrived at camp each day, otherwise the days were unstructured. However, the few times that we did bike as a group (into Denver, Madison, Grand Rapids, and Jersey City) were very powerful, especially as we all wore our matching jerseys.

There were many advantages to biking across the continent with a tour. I don’t think that I would have finished if I tried by myself. However, we were stuck to a route that we had complete each day, even if it meant biking into a headwind. If I was biking by myself I could vary my course to take advantage of the wind or minimize it by making it a cross wind. The days that we had a tailwind were amazing though. It made it incredible easy and enjoyable to bike. I don’t remember too many days with a tailwind, but I know the day leaving Grand Rapids and St. Catherine's we did.

2008-08-07 Day 39 Algona to New Hampton 012 Stitch

The tour was hard and challenging. Every day took a lot of energy, frequently I didn’t realize how exhausted I was until I arrived in camp and felt like I just ran a marathon. Each day by itself wasn’t that challenging, however my exhaustion built up from lack of adequate sleep and only one day off each week. Also, everyday we had to setup our tent, take showers, patiently wait in a bathroom designed for only a couple of people, bike to the store and buy items we needed. Plus, I don’t know how many times I walked between my tent, the gear trailer and the bathroom trying to get everything ready every morning. This was especially difficult when each place was hundreds of feet apart! Since we were in a different place everyday we continually had to figure out where everything was. I’m not complaining, but rather trying to describe how tedious some things became.

There were many days when I was exhausted, hot, dirty, and sore that I could have easily hitched a ride. I wanted to so badly, but I decided to go slow and make it there under my own power. It felt good to make it to camp by myself, but the last twenty miles some days were brutal. I wish I could have just crawled up and slept right away some of those days, but instead I had to setup my tent, take a shower, and get ready for the next day, which usually took over an hour. It took dedication and perseverance some days to make it there!

I may have already said this but I loved stopping, taking in the sights, and taking pictures. Many people wouldn’t wait for me as they were anxious to keep going. I’m glad that I took time to take pictures and take in the sights, even though it cost me developing some friendships along the way.

When I went to Celebration Service’s sometimes we made a special entrance where I felt like a champion. It was a great feeling. I love being encouraged and I have to admit that I loved the attention. After biking through desolate areas in the week it was great to have a chance where there were hundreds of people cheering you on.

2008-07-12 Day 13 Ontario to Boise 004 Stitch

I spent a lot of work leading up to actual riding this summer. Mainly, I spent a lot of time raising money, buying gear and a bike, and training for the trip. I spent a lot of time planning to make sure that the summer went smooth and I think it did.

My grandpa at first didn’t want me to participate in the tour and said that he would rather see me keep working for the summer (to my dismay). However he came around and fully supported me and encouraged me as I got ready to leave. So, I am sad that he couldn’t have seen me complete this adventure and talk about it with him as he died in May. I am interested to know what he would have said to me and told me, as he always had some great thoughts working in his mind. I miss him still.

I saw a lot of interesting signs this summer. For instance, when we were biking through the desert and there was nothing around only brown shrubs, a dirt road went off to the right and the street was named “Ocean View”. There was the Savage Funeral Home in New York, which seems like an odd name for a funeral home. There were many more crazier signs!

From the first day that I learned about the tour, I knew I wanted to be part of the tour. Not only would this help the plight of the poor but complete such an journey. At first, I thought this was to hard of a commitment; that I wouldn’t be able to raise enough money and have the endurance to bike so far. However with a lot of planning and time not only me, but several hundred cyclists raised enough money and biked their part!

To this day I still am surprised by the fact that I biked across the continent and every detail went smoothly. It’s a wonderful memory to have with many different stops along the way and relationships that were grown.

To bike across the country was something that I wanted to do sometime in my life. Well, I’ve done that now, however the desire is there to do it again! You never know what opportunities might pop up; I’m so anxious to see what they might be!

Thanks for following along! Once again the tour would have been completely different without you prayers, financially support, and encouragement!