With a final burst of energy, the Aussie I Will Go Riders pedalled triumphantly into Avondale University yesterday (February 7) at the end of their epic journey.
The 17 riders, who had started off in two groups, came together as one joyous team for the ride into Avondale. Wearing their distinctive red jerseys, the riders were greeted by dozens of well-wishers, including Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper, Avondale vice-chancellor Professor Kevin Petrie and ministers attending this week’s Australian Union Conference Empower meetings.
Mr Piper said it was wonderful to be at Avondale to meet the riders.
“Welcome to Lake Macquarie,” he said. “It’s an amazing thing that you’ve done and I’m so impressed that you’ve given your time to do this.”
The cyclists commenced their rides last week: eight left Melbourne on January 29 and covered a distance of more than 1200km; nine departed Brisbane on January 31, pedalling just over 1000km. On Sabbath (February 3) the Melbourne team worshipped at a new church plant in Canberra while the Brisbane team attended Port Macquarie church.
Both teams were plagued by multiple tyre punctures. The Brisbane team was challenged by the heat, with the temperature hitting 40 degrees on some days. Aching muscles and saddle soreness were all part of the experience, but thankfully there were no injuries or accidents.
A major component of the ride was connecting with people they met in townships along the way. They chatted and prayed with people, and shared Christian literature, including copies of the Live More Happy booklet and Signs of the Times magazine.
Melbourne team leader Pastor Michael Worker said they were initially unsure how Australians would respond.
“After riding through the US last year (in the inaugural I Will Go Ride) and finding everyone so receptive, we were just unsure whether Aussies would welcome a bunch of us on a bike, riding along, giving out literature, but we found people were generally pretty receptive,” he said.
“We had some amazing conversations, met some people, prayed with people and just some really God-inspired encounters. The team have ridden so well together, and it’s just been a privilege to promote physical health, mental health and to do something fun while preaching the gospel and sharing Jesus with our community.
“We’ve had an amazing adventure.”
Pastor Brett Townend, who led the Brisbane team, thanked everyone for their support.
“We had a great time, good comraderie, no accidents or incidents. It was fantastic, and we really enjoyed it,” he said.
While Sanitarium sponsored the jerseys and the 10,000 Toes Campaign sponsored the socks, the riders covered their own costs associated with the ride and took annual leave to participate.
“This is our mission service,” Pastor Worker said. “This is something that we enjoy doing, both riding but also sharing our love for Jesus with other people. That’s an important thread that’s been through the ride, that this is our personal service to God.”