What is it like being on Sea to Sea, the great bicycle ride across North America? From July 27 to August 4, I was on a mission to find out.
I saw riders cycle 100 – 170 km / 70-100 miles a day. I slept in a tent. I ate camp meals. I spent every minute with a group of 100 cyclists who are traveling across North America, all while raising funds to fight poverty.
After spending week with Sea to Sea, I’m compelled to share what stood out to me about this astounding ride.
A Floating Community
Throughout the week, I witnessed the impressive camaraderie of the group. When 100 people are together for 10 weeks straight, conflict is bound to arise, but there was no evidence of that in this group. Riders young and old have built strong relationships, forming a tightly-knit community. Even after a grueling day of 100+ miles, an almost unanimous response would be “great ride!”
The resolve of the group, and how accepting and accommodating they are of each other, is nothing short of amazing.
Another thing that makes this community so remarkable is the mobility of it all. 100 individuals travel 70-100 miles each and every day. They set up camp, eat, and sleep in a different location every night. Yet once they leave, no evidence of their presence can be found. It’s as if they simply float from campground to campground, school to school—living and breathing yet leaving no trace.
Sea to Sea manages this, in part, through small groups. Each rider is part of a small group that does devotions together every evening. These groups are also in charge of a daily chore. For some, it is cleaning up breakfast, for others it is cooking and serving dinner to the group, loading the gear truck, or sweeping the camp grounds to catch anything left behind.
Each group works together to complete their tasks with patience, understanding, and efficiency. There wasn’t an ounce of griping or a lack of participation. From the moment I arrived on tour to the time I left, I witnessed responsibility, accountability, and collaboration in everything that was done.
A Day of Riding
Thanks to several generous individuals who let me use their bike and gear, I took up the challenge of riding for a day.
The route stretched 108 km / 67 miles from Newberry, MI to Sault Ste. Marie, MI. After watching the cyclists complete back to back 170 km / 100 mile rides the two previous days, I thought this would be an easy, shorter day to participate.
Beginning the ride, all was going well. Then the headwind hit. Then the rain hit. Then the hills hit. I started out at about 7:30 am and made it into camp at about 1:30 pm, with three rest stops and a gas station break in between. By the end, I could barely walk. But thanks to the encouragement and companionship of Folkert de Boer, a fellow rider, I made it the last 30 km!
Participating in the ride for just one day made me realize that what these cyclists do every day is truly baffling. Despite often being short on sleep, they ride hundreds of miles six days a week because they, and I quote, “like it.”
Although there are riders as young as 12 and as old as 81, that doesn’t stop them. Although there are people who have injuries of many sorts, they doesn’t stop them. Although some may appear to be non-athletic and out of shape, that doesn’t stop them. They keep going.
A True Dedication
Sea to Sea isn’t just a ride, it’s a journey. It’s 10 weeks. 72 days. 1,728 hours. It’s 6,840 km / 4,250 miles.
Riders and volunteers are away from their family, their friends, their home, and their communities. They swap a comfortable bed for an air mattress in a tent or a school. They give up home-cooked food for, well, some pretty good food on the road! They take time off from work, school, or their summer. They spend time and effort raising funds (over $1.58 million!) to fight global poverty. This group is truly remarkable in their dedication.
But what is truly remarkable about this dedicated community is the cause they rally behind—the cause at the heart of Sea to Sea. Riders from all walks of life and areas of North America set out in one united goal: Cycling to End Poverty.
Because of the significant funds Sea to Sea riders raise for the co-host organizations Partners Worldwide and World Renew, tens of thousands of people around the world are provided with the opportunity to rise above poverty. Families facing injustice and inequality are equipped to create a better future for themselves.
Each time they ride, Sea to Sea cyclists are creating hope and opportunity for the people who need it most.
. . .
Sea to Sea is truly a unique experience with a strong, vibrant community of riders, and seeing how it is lived out day-to-day is something that I’m blessed to have witnessed.
But the true blessing is the work these dedicated riders do raising funds and awareness to fight global poverty. As they pursue their passion for cycling, they are also putting their faith in action in a bold way—a lesson that will stick with me long after the ride ends. So to each and every Sea to Sea rider, thank you! Thank you for your service, your example, and your dedication to creating a world without poverty.