Labor Day weekend 2019 marked the return of the popular event: The Bishop's Bike Ride. For more than 10 years, cyclists in the Diocese of Ohio have joined Bishop Hollingsworth in an annual long-distance group bicycle tour. The rides ranged from a 10-day cross-country journey from the Episcopal General Convention in Anaheim, CA to The Epsicopal Church offices in New York City to a several-day trip that followed the path of the Underground Railroad across Ohio.
Forty-two riders participated in a one-day ride which started and finished at Bellwether Farm on Saturday, August 31. The event featured three different ride lengths to accommodate riders of all ages and abilities: a novice/family fun ride of 22 miles, an intermediate ride of 40 miles, and a longer ride for experienced riders of 70 miles. Each route led to a parish where riders and volunteers enjoyed lunch and fellowship.
Novice riders followed the North Coast Inland Trail to Christ Church, Oberlin; intermediate riders rode to St. Andrew’s, Elyria; and the experienced riders rode to Christ Church, Huron. All riders were invited to ride back to Bellwether Farm for dinner and fellowship.
The Bishop's Bike Ride has a legacy of building community within our diocese and raising funds to support youth programs. Since the first ride in 2006, participants have raised nearly $80,000 to support youth activities such as mission trips, leadership development, and faith formation activities. Participants invited their parishes, friends, and family to sponsor their rides. This year, riders raised nearly $5,000 to support youth programming in our diocese.
The Rev. Jeff Bunke shared his motivation for participating, “The Bishop's Bike Ride supports work with and by youth in our diocese - often through grants for projects and ministries such as youth mission trips. At St. Timothy's in Perrysburg, we've been blessed nearly every year for the past seven years with support from the Bishop to send a team of youth (and adults) into one of the poorest counties in our nation. While the product of tasks accomplished has been great, the changed lives and personal growth of the missioners is even greater!”
The goal of the ride is as much about building community as it is about raising funds.
Riders played “Bishop’s Bike Ride Bingo,” where they were encouraged to fill up a bingo card of sights, sounds, experiences, and reflections that they collected on their ride. The squares contained themes like “Up Hill,” challenging riders to reflect on a time when they had to “climb” a hill in life, and “Coasting,” encouraging them to think about the last time they were able to relax and let God do the work. Volunteers at the parishes provided homemade lunches for the riders and shared conversation during the meal.
Hope Jarvis and Ginger Brown, parishioners at St. Timothy’s in Perrysburg, were volunteer SAG Drivers (Support and Gear). The SAG vehicles follow behind riders and provide beverages and snacks as well as help with injuries and small bike repairs. Both have participated in the bike ride in the past.
Hope shared, "Meeting fellow folk on their home turf, sharing stories, being part of a bigger picture - that is always 'church' for me."
Ginger, a veteran of four previous Bishop’s Bike Rides, reflected, “I find such joy in making new friends, sharing stories, and seeing those whom I have met at other Diocesan events. I do feel a greater connection with the Diocese as well.”