Monday morning started early with each cyclist assembling their own breakfast and packing a lunch for the day. After a few words of encouragement and a prayer led by Mary Hulst, Calvin College chaplain, the cyclist were off.
In order for me to do part of the day unicycling and the rest biking, I had to coordinate with the SAG team (Support And Gear). The plan was to bike the first 30km to get a head start on the group by arriving with the stronger cyclists at the first SAG stop.
I had arranged to have the unicycle dropped off at SAG 1 at which place I would put my bike on the roof rack. From there I would unicycle as far as a I could towards the next SAG stop. The deal was that the driver would check with me when they moved to the next SAG stop. Well it wasn’t till I arrived at the next SAG stop that the van came by with my bike. That meant I had covered 28 km on unicyle (the goal was 10km for that day). I was quite pleased. I then proceeded to the camp ground by bike. Since I had covered 1/4 of the distance by unicycle there was not a lot of biking left to do.
Today, Tuesday, was a different story. The route for the day was 20 km longer. We had 120 km to cover. The strategy was going to be the same… bike to the first SAG stop, switch to the unicycle, get my bike back at the second SAG stop. But that wasn’t to be. After covering 3 km on the unicycle, the wheel jambed against the hydraulic brake causing the wheel to lock. The unicycle went skittering across the road, while I fortunately landed on my feet. After trying a few things I determined that the wheel was too warped to ride further. A gracious local resident kindly returned me to SAG 1 where I retrieved my bike.
As I got in the car the driver turns to her 3 daughters and says, this still means we never pick up strangers. It was the cycling jersey that put me into the non-stranger category.
I managed to finish the rest of the day by bike. Other than getting rained on in Flint, the day went very well. We are now in Imlay City ready to eat supper.
Tomorrow we cross into Canada and will be welcomed by the Sarnia community for the night.
The ride today took us through Flint Michigan, a prime example of extreme poverty as the shift in industry has left much of that city dealing with severe unemployment and all the challenges that come with that. We rode through some areas that reflect the problems as seen in burnt out houses, burnt out business, abandoned houses and boarded up businesses. For those who have seen Michael Moore’s documentary on the topic it is a reality that will take serious changes in our system to turn it around.
The contrast of 120 of us cycling through the slums of Flint was rather obvious. While our means of travel was rather simple, the amount of money represented by the equipment being used by the 120 cyclists is phenomenal.
As we ride, there are many opportunities to talk with people and share the goals of the ride – working to end the cycle of poverty, one person at a time.
Pray for safety for the cyclists, pray that the funds raised will be used effectively.