Oswego: Trinity UMC hosts youth cyclists traveling from Indiana to Maine
The Rev. Steven Eddy, pastor of Oswego: Trinity UMC, received an email earlier this year that was sent to a large group of pastors. It was from Norm Houze, founder, tour director, and on-road supervisor for deCycles, an ecumenical youth and young adult cycling ministry.
Rev. Eddy said, “Norm was seeking places for his cyclists to stay on their 1,500-mile bike trip this summer." I thought, "Our church is always wanting to do more outreach—this would be an excellent way to do it. I brought forth this idea to my church leaders, and they all agreed it would be a great idea.”
On June 28, 2023, a hot and humid afternoon, Rev. Eddy and Sheila Buske, Oswego: Trinity UMC SPRC Chair, stood on the ramp access to the church awaiting the group of youth cyclists (ages 13-16) and six adult cyclists. These cyclists have been traveling from Bloomington, Indiana and are on their way to Bar Harbor, Maine. Their previous stop was at Asbury First United Methodist Church in Rochester.
Nearly a dozen volunteers from Oswego: Trinity UMC were inside, preparing pitchers of water and arranging fruit and vegetable platters. Sheet pizzas were ordered to be delivered an hour after the anticipated arrival time of the cyclists.
The first group of four cyclists climbed up the hill toward the church just before 5 p.m. and eagerly rode up the ramp, sweaty, but smiling. They had just traveled 83 miles from Rochester. The trip was intended to be 71 miles but the bridge on Lake Road, just outside of Rochester, was closed, forcing them to backtrack against the wind, up a very long hill to travel along the bay.
Showing the map of their route on her cellphone, Lydia, a 16-year-old rider with large scabs and road rash on her knees said, “It was such a bummer when we arrived at the broken bridge. We had just had a fun ride down a steep hill with the wind at our backs and we had to turn around and go up the hill against the wind!”
Next to Lydia stood Leo, a 14-year-old with dirty-blond hair, wiping off beads of sweat from his forehead and sporting a beaming smile highlighted by shiny silver braces. He chimed in, "Since we left Indiana on June 16, this entire journey has been nothing but rolling hills."
14-year-old Californian, Griffin was standing with Lydia and Norm.
When questioned about their cycling background, Griffin and Lydia both admitted their lack of experience.
Griffin said, “Before doing 25-mile training rides for this trip, I maybe only ever rode 5 miles max.”
Leo rode from Key West to Bloomington last year.
Shortly before 5:30 p.m., the remaining riders made their arrival. Following closely behind, the supply trailer pulled up. Cricket (Norm’s wife and a chaperone cyclist) brought all the perishable food into the church.
The entire deCycles team enjoyed a meal and fellowship with church members and Pastor Eddy.
After dinner, the team went to a local sports club to shower. The adults and Lydia slept in the sanctuary. The rest of the riders, who were boys, slept downstairs. Rev. Eddy kindly washed their cycling clothes.
These cyclists ride 70-100+ miles a day, starting out at 7 a.m. and ending at about 5 p.m.
Norm said, “This ministry helps these kids out in so many ways. This is big league riding. For those who did the ride from Key West to Indiana and then the ride from Indiana to Maine can literally say they road from the Southern most part of the country to the Northern most part of the country. This can get them scholarships to college!”
He also discussed the positive impact that cycling has on the environment; he said, “These kids are learning that they can transport themselves without cars!”
Norm, a doctor, rides his bike to his office every day. “I am getting in my workout and reducing my carbon footprint.”
Oswego: Trinty UMC members were so impressed by these cyclists. Sheila said, “This is so exciting. These riders are so brave!”
Reflect upon this: despite confronting storms, broken bridges, and even enduring crashes, the riders persist on their journey. Their unwavering determination serves as a testament, inspiring us to have faith that anything is achievable.
Norm explained that these trips would not be possible without the churches that host them.
“The host churches keep this trip affordable so that we can welcome anyone,” he said.
By being the hands and feet of Jesus, members of churches like Asbury First UMC and Oswego: Trinity UMC help youth to have an experience of a lifetime.
Click here to learn more about deCycles.
Click here to follow their journey on Facebook.