North Park Bikers Talk Justice, Battle Flat Tires
AUSTIN, NV (June 11, 2008) – Two weeks after leaving San Francisco on a cross-country bicycle trip to raise awareness among Evangelical Covenant Churches about social justice and funding for two ministries, six riders from North Park University are getting their own continuing education, conquering physical fatigue, overcoming numerous flat tires, and deriving spiritual lessons from dead skunks.
On Friday, three of the riders shared about their trip so far as they rested outside of Austin, Nevada, on the Bob Scott Summit at 7,100 feet.
“It seems like more people are getting interested in issues of justice,” said Eric Landin, one of the trip organizers. Churches that start local ministries of compassion and mercy begin to develop a broader view of justice, he added.
“It’s been good for me to ask questions of people who have been struggling with this for some time,” said Emily Johnson. The discussions continue among the riders. “We just keep learning more about what each other thinks about justice.”
In addition to Landin and Johnson, other participants are Matt Enquist, Andrea Buchanan, Marcus Simmons and Dylan Maysick. Four members of the group attend Covenant congregations: Enquist attends Libertyville Covenant in Libertyville, Illinois; Buchanan attends Prairie Hills Covenant Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Landin attends Zion Covenant Church in Jamestown, New York; and Johnson attends Bethany Covenant Church in Minneapolis. Simmons is from Longview, Texas, and Maysick is from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The group began their journey on May 24 from Redwood City, California, outside San Francisco. They already have traveled through California and are making their way through Nevada. They will continue through Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York before concluding in Quincy, Massachusetts.
Most of the riders had never done long trips. “I’m still sore, but it’s getting better,” said Simmons. On the group’s blog, he wrote after the first day: “IT WAS HARD! IT HURT! I WANTED TO CRY!”
The group has been getting painful lessons on geography. “We didn’t realize how mountainous Nevada was,” said Landin. “We’re doing better in the mountains than we were, though.”
The group is learning that cartographers differ on the terrain. “Matt and I have different maps,” Johnson said. Although a sign at the top of Bob Scott Summit states it is 7,200 feet, her map reads 7,100 feet and his reads 7,600 feet. At that altitude, 500 feet makes a big difference, Johnson noted.
They also are developing their mechanical skills. “We’re really good at changing tires,” Landin said. They have changed more than 30 already. “There is so much trash on the road.”
The group also is gaining spiritual insight in some unexpected ways. On the blog, Johnson wrote that passing several dead skunks on the way led her to consider whom she considers a “smelly nuisance?”
The students are raising money for Spark Ventures and Acirfa Bikes. Spark Ventures offers unique ways of sponsoring children in Zambia. Rich Johnson, director of University Ministries at North Park University, is a co-founder. Acirfa is a nonprofit operation providing jobs at a bicycle assembly plant as well as low-cost bicycles in Zambia. Vaughn Spethmann, a member of Clairemont Covenant Church in San Diego, California, is one of the co-founders.