I came to Canada in the summer of 2012 to escape the pressures of work and studies in Holland. I worked as landscaper at a relative’s landscaping business in Chilliwack, British Columbia. On weekends, I did some personal outings.
One day I bought a road bike and looked on the internet for some fun cycling races. I went online and Googled ‘Road bike events BC’. One particular result – ‘Weeklong BC Ride, Canadian Bible Society’ – caught my attention. “Hmmm, sounds interesting”, I thought. Since I had a lot of questions I contacted Bike for Bibles organiser Amie Wiebe. Amie invited me to the 60km Langley Fun Ride to experience the atmosphere. There were not that many riders, but I enjoyed it.
After the ride, I spoke with Amie and the always-smiling-photographer Bryant Mah. Amie and Bryant shared their plans about participating in the BC Weeklong Ride, with Amie as a rider, and Bryant as a photographer. I asked them questions; at the end I decided to sign up for the ride. I was very excited.
A few weeks later, I drove to Abbotsford where all Bike for Bibles cyclists gathered before the weeklong ride. We were welcomed warmly at Nico and Estelle Human’s place where we stayed overnight. The next day we drove with a few mini vans, bike trailer and a truck with all the food and personal belongings to Chetwynd – a more than 1,000 km-drive!
Driving 1,000km in Canada vs driving 1,000km in Holland
Abbotsford, BC is more than 1,000kms away from Chetwynd where we started the week-long ride. The vastness of British Columbia alone amazes me.
I live at the outskirts of Rotterdam in Holland and when we drive 1,000 kilometers we could reach at least the South France (through Belgium and Luxemburg), or Poland (crossing Germany and Czech Republic), or Italy (crossing Belgium, Luxemburg, France and Switzerland). So, for me, it was quite something to drive more than 1,000 km and not even pass a single border of another province.
When I compare the size of my country to Canada, Holland is just a little bigger than Vancouver Island (which is a part of British Columbia), although smaller than Nova Scotia.
As soon as we arrived in Chetwynd we unloaded the truck and vans, and then gathered as a group where we had the chance to introduce ourselves and tell our Bike for Bibles stories. It was amazing to hear all the different stories, reasons for participating, and the number of times people rode for Bike for Bibles. I also enjoyed the diversity of the group of more than 40 riders and roadies: different ages, accents, origins – there were people from the States and different provinces of Canada. And then there’s me: a Dutchman. After the introductions, we sang some praise songs and received our Bike for Bibles cycling jersey. Then it was time to pump up the mattresses and have a good night sleep.
Early next morning, we got up, dressed and had a good balanced breakfast of oatmeal, fruits, bread, coffee, juice, milk etc. After everyone was fed, road captain Jim Duncan went over the day schedule and wished everybody luck before we hit the road.
On our first day, I started out with the last group. The weather was nice and I enjoyed it very much when I started to climb the rolling hills. Before I knew it I made a big gap with the other riders. I totally forgot the group I was riding with. I heard some voices behind me: ‘Just ride your own pace, you can go’. And so I did. I passed some other riders and at the rest stop I joined Jannie who was with his daughter Iris. We rode a very nice steady pace and took turns on the front every now and then.
Sometime at noon, we arrived at the church where we would be staying over. By that time, I already made two (bike) friends: Jannie and Iris. I enjoyed the first day ride; we had very nice weather and the roadies did a very good job in preparing food and drinks during the ride.
But that wasn’t everything. When everybody finally got in, we all jumped into a swimming pool and relaxed and stretched a bit. After our shower we got a good dinner with all kinds of dishes: lasagna, rice, salad, bread, casseroles, etc. Everybody was satisfied. The local church had done a great job in preparing the meals for us!
After dinner we did some board games while other people read books, updated their personal travel blog or contacted their family. Iris invited me for a game called ‘Aggravation’ and later, ‘Banana Split’. Banana Split was quite challenging for me. I had only been living in Canada for three months and didn’t have an extensive English vocabulary. But with some teamwork, I did pretty good!
Same schedule but not boring!
The Bike for Bibles schedule is pretty much the same every day during the weeklong ride.
Pack our tents
Breakfast and devotions
Prepare for ride (Everybody has to grab their belongings and put them in the truck, fill up the water bottles, put some food in the jersey pockets and make themselves ready for the staggered start.)
Ride all day (with rest stops and lunch in between)
The days went by quickly after that. Every day the same schedule but it wasn’t boring. The sceneries were amazing. We worked as a team on steep hills and windy days. The toughest day was during the 197km ride. A big part of the ride we got headwind so we did very short turns at front. When we passed other riders who were in trouble on the steep hills we pushed them a little bit. That was really a day of teamwork! And I have to say: everybody made it – 197 kilometers! Not everybody was young – the youngest girl was 19 and the oldest men were in their 80s – but everybody was strong enough to finish the ride. At the end of the day, one rider asked me about the experience. I told him it was my longest ride ever but I liked it very much. He shook his head and asked me: “You’re a crazy guy, how can you like this?” So I told him: “How can you not like this? Why are you participating if you don’t like this ride?” Then he said: “It’s all for the fundraising, the fellowship and nice atmosphere. I don’t like riding a bike at all.” That’s quite something, I thought. After that conversation, I was even more grateful that I love cycling.
The night before our last ride, we gathered for a time of singing praise songs and sharing of testimonies. We thanked the awesome group and especially Amie, Nico, Estelle and Jannie for organizing the ride; Jim for being the captain; Gordon for always loading the truck; Bryant for filming and taking photos; and the roadies for their support on the road.
On our last day, I rode with my friends Adam, Iris, Jannie and Rick. At the rest stop, Jannie decided to go with his daughter Iris and wife Karin who were riding at a slower pace. Rick and I wanted to ride as fast as we can, so we went ahead of the group. With very short turns we headed back to Chetwynd where the weeklong ride started five days earlier. When everybody pulled in, we had our last lunch together. The rest of the afternoon was spent packing and heading home. That was kind of sad for me, but I was amazed at how close our group became. It felt like one big family.
On our way home, Iris invited me to visit Vancouver Island the next week. It was perfect timing as I no longer had work waiting for me in Chilliwack.
In Vancouver Island, Iris showed me Victoria; we also hiked Mt. Tolmie and met some friends at the beach. I also had the opportunity to stay with Rick and join his Thursday Night Ride group. Later, Rick offered work and his place if I would be willing to stay until Christmas. I accepted his offer and moved to Vancouver Island where I got work and gained a bunch of new bike friends.
Bike for Bibles changed my Canada trip in a positive way. When I first arrived in the country, I didn’t have a lot of friends; I had no stable work and was by myself most of the time, so it was quite difficult to learn the language. After Bike for Bibles I gained a lot of friends and found work. I also think that my English has improved greatly.
When I went home in Rotterdam, I showed my family and friends the Bike for Bibles photos and videos. When a good bike friend saw this he wanted to ride the Bike for Bibles as well. So this summer we want to join the Alberta and British Columbia weeklong rides. I hope that you will join us this year and become a part of the Bike for Bibles family.
Why should you participate in Bike for Bibles?
You’re probably asking yourself: “Why should I participate in Bike for Bibles? We have a lot of Bibles at home already. So many that most of them are just collecting dust on the shelf.”
But the reality is: there are millions of Christians around the world who don’t have even a single book of the Bible in their heart language. They need to hear about the Good News from the Bible and that will only happen if we help make God’s Word available for them.
There’s also a lot to be gained by participating. It is a way of sharing the Word while achieving fun, fitness and fellowship with people of different denominations and ages. It’s not only biking; there’s also time for worship, relaxation, playing – just having fun with people who love God! It doesn’t matter how young or old or experienced you are. Everybody could join the ride!
How could you participate in Bike for Bibles?
If you don’t know how to ride a bike, or if you’re not interest in riding but would love to support Bike for Bibles, there are other options for you. You could pray for the riders, be a roadie, or a videographer/photographer, or you could sponsor a rider or donate to help raise funds. There’s something for everyone. For details on how you can help, click here.
Contributed by Lenny (Leendert) vanderLugt