Pastor John Van Sloten's Blog 2001-2007

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Day 53 - Bowmanville later that day...

Aug 16, 2005

Later that day… not many urban images… in fact the route was fairly suburban today… nice, but not all that stimulating. I rode by myself for the whole day. Seems I’m doing that a bit more recently, especially on the shorter easy days. At times I even felt a little bored today; makes me appreciate my team mates even more (they had to sweep today).

As I went to shave after my shower this afternoon I noticed a hand written note tucked into my shaving case. It was from Fran. (I think she likes me!)

Just got the map for tomorrow… only 108k vs the 135k previously assigned distance. And the route runs almost entirely along Lake Ontario. I can hardly wait to get on my bike!!!

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 06:46 PM PDT

Say hi to B-ville for me - it is the place I grew up you know. I am guessing it is one of the places that has undergone sweeping changes.

Did you say 6000? (me showing restraint at this moment)



Day 53 – Woodbridge to Bowmanville – 95k

Aug 16, 2005

Today I’m skirting across the top of the biggest urban congregation in Canada. Coming in from the west yesterday, the former real estate developer in me was astounded by the growth; huge houses, mile after mile of new residential subdivision, commercial development all over the place. This city is big and this city is prosperous. Makes me wonder how God reveals himself via the phenomenon of ‘city.’

I mean… (here I go again!) God made all of us human beings. He made us in his image (a bit like him, to reflect a bit of who he is, what he’s like). When we create things like cultures and cities, we reflect His creativity and the things we make (even though we rarely get it right) are reflective of the Divine nature. So, in a way, cities reflect something of the heart and face of God. They have to.

Normally all we ever hear about is the ‘problem side’ of urban life. But there must be some Godly goodness here, something of his nature.

The one word that strikes me this morning is accumulation. Cities are places where people, technology, education, business and traffic accumulate. They’re centres… hubs of activity from which commerce, learning, whatever radiate. Sort of like the wheel of a bicycle tire. Sort of like the Divine Centre. Certainly a lot of people, knowledge and human traffic congregate there.

Looked at out route map for the day and I’m not sure how many urban images there will be to photograph (kinda keeping north of the real action). We’ll see.

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 11:00 AM PDT
I was reading your web "travels" ...sounds so exciting... I look forward to starting my day with you guys, sitting at work behind a desk ... anyway the reason for my response, is firstly,
congrats on your new niece.. she looks adorable..
also you are now travelling thru my neck of the woods, where I lived for many years.. isn't it beautiful... I could easily unwind from a hectic days work driving back home to Stouffville from Toronto...
I miss that place...
Godspeed on your journey to the sea...may it be memorable and may your eyes be opened to how richly God has blessed this country... Canaan to the dutch!!! Blessings...



Day 52 - Later that day...

Aug 15, 2005

Later that day… Ride was a breeze… in by 1:00 pm… sunny and cool; which is cool for the humidity and smog ridden Big Smoke.

I went for dinner with my parents, two of my sisters, their husbands and my newest little three day old niece Sarah. I had a really great time. One of those family outings that work out just right! I found myself really appreciating each of them. Thankful. My sister Sharon is like sunshine; she brightens things and people up. New mom Marlene posseses a maternal strength in proportion to her great wit. Her husband Anjay is wonderfully good natured; he laughs funny and smiles wide. My dad is a deeply feeling man, very smart and sensitive. Mom has a great sense of humour and strength and she loves her new grand daughter to death. Sharon’s hubby Peter is a man of great integrity and earnestness; I’d trust him with anything (hopefully the bill for dinner I figured). And little Sarah… I don’t know her very well yet… but her 72 hour old cheeks are softer than my lips, and she smells like a new born dream. I’ve just met her and already I love her… would do anything for her; pick up her bill any time.

Looks like another easy day tomorrow… only 95k… gonna do the photo journalism thing I think… an urban biking theme.

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 10:08 AM PDT
Wow John...sounds like an amazing family. Truly a blessing! I wish I (as I'm sure everyone can agree) could be part of such an amazing group of people.
Such charm, wit, kindness, sensitivity and modisty (not to mention the good looks) wrapped up in such a beautiful family. And such stunning children!
Enjoy your ride.
Tanjay and Darlene


Day 52 – Guelph to Woodbridge – 100k

Aug 15, 2005

Talk about a change of venue… from a ‘human interaction deficient’ Northern Ontario to a relationship rich Southern Ontario. Unbelievable segue! No family to intimate family with Fran and Eddy. No church people presence to people lining the roads with snacks and cheers. No celebration church service in the Sault to 6200 plus (Yah) in a Guelph hockey arena. Huge. At this event I must have met 100 people from my past; past churches, past friendships, extended family (all of Fran’s side, most of my side), it was bedlam. Talk about relational overload. And talk about another wicked segue when I got back to camp last night at 10:00 pm. It’s dark, I can’t see my tent, I finally do, get in and all zipped up and I’m alone again. My heart was kind of aching at this point… to be honest I wondered if I was going to get a bit funked having left Fran and Edward, in particular, behind. Alone.
But my aloneness was short lived. Soon I discovered that about 50 ants were joining me in my sleeping bag. What the heck! Everything out of the tent, everything shaken out, everything back in, and then sleep… sleep like a baby actually… and then this morning, the sun, a new day, and I can hardly wait to go biking.

40 or so new people start this am… for them this is the beginning. I’m 5000 k into this and I’m feeling like this is almost done. Strange how the same place, the same point in time can mean two totally different things to different people. Yesterday afternoon called my dad from my cell when I crossed the 5000k milestone on the ride. During our call he says, “Opa (my 97 year old grandfather in Edmonton) is very sick and may be dying… and Marlene (my little sister) just had her third baby (not all at once!)” He then goes on to say, “Strange how life is given and life is taken away… all on the seemingly same day.”

Today we are alive; an all too short lived gift. Today I’ve got 44 years under my belt (metaphorically only right now) and I’m a baby. It’s the sun’s birthday.

Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, August 15 2005 @ 09:33 AM PDT
Hey John, Ralf and I have been following along with you the whole way and love to read your stories. Yesterday in church Pastor Robin showed the congregation where you were on the trip up on the big screen and how much further you had to go. Everyone in the gym gasped at the same time when they saw how far you have gone already. It would have made you proud! You are on the home stretch now- we hope you continue to feel God's face shining brightly upon you in the coming days. Ride the wave.


Days 50 and 51 – Owen Sound to Guelph – 155k and rest day and family visit time

Aug 14, 2005

Having Fran and Eddy here for the past 36 hours has been wholly invigorating and encouraging. It sort of pulls you out of the tour for a while and offers you some perspective; on life as a whole and especially on how much you might have changed. They know me best and can easily see any differences in me. By having them around, I can also better see where things might have morphed a bit. I remember talking to Fran on the phone early on in the tour and she said, “Don’t change too much!” I think I have. And I think she’s ok with most of it.
So where have things changed and where have they not?

1. What hasn’t changed is how much I love being touched. I can still hear Edward’s churning grunts as he lurched across the campsite on Friday afternoon. He caught me off guard coming in from behind and the moment I turned he was there. Dropping to my knees I got swallowed in a huge downy hug. Then he just stood there holding his cheek onto mine and touching my face. I must have let him hold me for 60 seconds. Sensory satiation.

2. Looking up from Edward’s shoulder I could see Fran. Whoo hoo! My wife! Standing to kiss her, it felt great to be back in that familiar place again. Although for Fran it must have been very odd… who is this new physiological machine?… this hot, new fit man? At first she seemed to be taken a bit aback, but within minutes she was enamoured by the physiological upgrade… when we first connected on site I think she audibly gasped; I’m sure of it! (the frail male ego, I know)

3. Talking, later that day, Fran mentioned that she’s noticed one big change in me; how patient I’d become. Our Friday night plans had to be changed quite a bit and I just rolled with the changes. Fran noticed the fact that I didn’t freak out or take control like I normally do. “Wow have you changed,” was the comment. Talking it through I came to the conclusion that it’s been Rob and Sherry’s influence on me. They’re a bit like new millennium hippies, cool, not too rushed kind of people. They’ve been wonderful teachers this way. I’m very thankful for them.

4. One area where things have not changed much is Fran’s interest in all things cycling. Apparently there are those in this world who don’t eat, sleep and drink biking. I noticed that fact when she glazed over as I talked about my tire delaminating yesterday. And both she and Eddy seemed much less excited about my serendipitous opportunity to blow dry my wet shammy at 5:00 am yesterday morning.

5. Another big change… well, 155 kilometer, rolling hill, rides become very short and almost flat when you’ve got your wife and son on either side of the trip. Oh yeah.

Late Sunday night… I just left Fran and Eddy behind and arrived back at the site. Great days together and I already miss them both.

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 02:35 PM PDT
Nice shirt John, where can I get one? I do miss you and can't wait to see you in a few weeks. For now I'll see what I can do about holding down the fort at New Hope. I preached on Journey on Sunday and noted that you guys hadn't quite ridden as far as Terry Fox had run before he was forced to stop, amazing when you think about it.


Road side fun!

Aug 12, 2005

A fun little video that John shot back on day 31 has finally come to light.

Click here to watch video (windows media format)

Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 13 2005 @ 03:20 AM PDT
I am thoroughly enjoying your journal and looking forward to perhaps
meeting you personally at Guelph.

Friday you went by my in-laws cottage at Hope Bay, and my brother-in-
law said he would be watching for the C3C cyclers.

I greatly appreciate your comments about Making Poverty History to the
reporter for the Sudbury Star.

Jim Romahn
President, CRWRC-Canada


Day 49 - Tobermory to Owen Sound – 116k

Aug 12, 2005

Did I mention that my wife Fran and son Edward are meeting me today?

Yeah, Johnny’s going to be pedaling fast through the rain today. Gonna get a hair cut, shave, clean shammy, put on my finest cologne; and that’s just for Eddy! It’s going to be weird to see them after 5 weeks apart. It’s going to be wonderful.

These next few days on the tour are going to be nuts. The rides aren’t going to be a concern, but the amount of change that we will encounter will be immense. Adding 40 new riders in Guelph, families now traveling with many of the riders (changing their relationship to the tour somewhat), visitors galore from local churches. Seeing as most of the riders are from this part of the world, it should be interesting. And fun.

I guess I’ll be part of the freneticism… tons of family to see, apart from the immediate. And biking through my old stomping grounds… sometimes I miss Ontario a lot.

Don’t know if I’ll be reporting in for the next two days… things to do.

Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 12 2005 @ 07:44 PM PDT
Hi John! We just want to say that we love you.....your love for God and life....your daily update that shares your laughter and great wit, your spirit that we can feel across the miles.......we want to wish you an awesome weekend with Fran and Edward.

We miss you at New Hope ....(I bet you miss us too), John we are so excited and very proud about what you are doing, and what you have done on the sea to sea tour!

Surely CBC will be waiting around the next corner to get a scoop from you!

God Bless,

Rhea & Phil

Listened to your CJ92 interview on the road and was surprised to hear that there was no mention of the initial reason and planning for the "sea to sea" cycle tour, that it is the celebration of The Christian Reformed Church 100th Anniversary in Canada! Just thought it was worth mentioning....

With you in prayer each day.....


Day 48 - Later that day...

Aug 11, 2005

Later that day… I just got told, by someone who has been reading all of these blogs, that I often say, “Today was an amazing day!” Hmmm… so from now on that particular phrase is verboten on this site…. Let’s see… Today was an incredible day! 33 k to the ferry, tail wind, sunshine and cool. While cycling, I tried riding without hands a few times (no e-mails on safety please!!). Other riders do it all the time but I’m a little less comfortable for some reason; fear, control freak, whatever. The feeling I felt in trusting the bike, trusting that the, “tire wants to go straight,” as one rider said to me 4 provinces back, was exhilarating; liberating. It’s for freedom that we have been set free. I want to live in more freedom.
The ferry ride was tremendous. For 30 minutes or so I sat on a small deck on level three, watching the cyclists meander about on level two. They all had these big smiles on their faces. One rider named Arnold just stood there leaning on the rail, watching the seagulls, grinning from ear to ear for 15 minutes. Tanya’s beam was in response to the wind, “Want to know what I love about cycling, John?,” she asked, “It’s the wind… it’s just so powerful.” I could have sat there for hours were Lake Huron not blowing so hard.

While on the ferry I also thought about my immigrant grand parents who came to Canada on a boat. What an adventure they were on. Talk about big risk and new freedoms. Then a thought hit me… and I know it’s probably just my imagination at work… I wondered if, perhaps, God brought them here, precisely for a moment such as this. I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole Kuyperian worldview that our church holds and its application to connecting with a spiritually searching world. (what the heck does Kuyperian worldview mean you ask… that our world belongs to God, that he’s at work in all spheres of creation… that God is mysteriously working to get his will done all over the place… sovereign in all things… providentially doing his thing, holding it all in his hand, counting every hair on every head, etc…) I wondered if God planted this worldview in this country back then for a time such as this. And that a crazy thing like a bike ride would be one way this well rooted ideology would break through the soil and make the scene in a more visible/tangible way.

I keep seeing Canadians, our neighbours and friends, hearing about a God that loves what they love, is into the beauty that their into, loves the creativity of Van Gogh just like they do (in fact he created Van Gogh, made him creative, made him to reflect Divine creativity in his being/work), loves biking and bikers like they do, appreciates last nights starry sky as much as they do, is into math and science and sports and medicine as much as they are; in fact he came up with most of it. The potential is immense.

Anyway… enough on this stuff. Tomorrow 116k to my wife and son. I can’t wait.

Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 12 2005 @ 05:12 PM PDT
The thing about riding without hands is this. You started doing it because the other guys were doing it and are having a good time. If you really want to out do them you should try something else, just a bit crazier. Close your eyes now and then and see how scared you can get before actually dying. Or do like my grandpa always tells me he always rode his bike. When you get to the top of the hill lay with your stomach on the seat and your knees on the bike rack and coast down the hill. Now those hills mostly consisted of dykes because it was Holland but you could do some pretty impressive stuff if you got up to 50 km/h in that position.

Be creative after 48 days the normal seated position has got to be getting old


Day 48 – Manitawaning to Tobermory – 33k (and that’s no typo!)

Aug 11, 2005

Nobody is in a happier place right now; I’m sure of it. It’s just before 7:00 am., a soul warming sun is about ‘one inch up’ on eastern horizon, and there’s a temperate Lake Huron breeze kissing me from the west. What an embrace! Slow down girls. And that’s just the start of it all… today we ride a mere 30 k to the ‘Big Indian Name’ Ferry, ride that boat for two hours, arrive in Tobermory to the roaring crowds, then do 3 more kilometers to camp.

Oh, and did I mention we were on Manitoulin Island? The largest fresh water island in the world housing the largest cross Canada bike tour in the world. We ‘larger than life’ entities need to stick together.

Al just came up to me and, shaking his head in disbelief, said, “I woke up this morning and realized that we’ve already reached the 33k day! I can’t believe we’re already at the 33k day.” Yeah, he’s right. Nearing the end of week 7, the end seems ominously close, too close, ‘I don’t know if I want this to end’ close, ‘My eyes well at the thought of stopping’ close. Someone said to me before the tour began that, “Once to get to Halifax you won’t want to stop.” How did they know? This ride is too good to get off. I want the adventure to continue… forever.

So if sport is a metaphor for life; if this tour is a metaphor for the spiritual life, then maybe this amazing ride need not stop. Why can’t all of life take on this kind of adventure feel? Why won’t I engage each day with the same amount of risk taking, road attacking, hard working, eye’s open, sun shining, glory attaining expectation. This is a human life I’m living. God has given us such an amazing gift in this. Our bodies, the experience of living; they’re the senses for our souls (I hear). Utopian? Perhaps. Idealistic? Maybe. Worth a shot? You bet!

Today I am born again (in the words of EE Cummings…). Aw… forget me trying to paraphrase, here it is… my favourite poem in the world. Perfect for this august day.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
wich is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 17 2005 @ 05:40 PM PDT
i've been following the tour online from my apartment in S.Korea and i just wanted to say i look forward to your posts. you take beautiful, captivating pictures and make intriguing observations. i like the way you see, experience and think of the world God made around you. Enjoy the evening in my hometown of Trenton. As always, you will all be in my thoughts and prayers.
~Carolyn Kuipers


Day 47 – Darfur, The Sudan

Aug 10, 2005

This morning I woke up hungry. The rainy season has still not ended. Pounding on my ‘hut’ all night long, I didn’t get much sleep. I lied there wondering if we’ll have a crop this season; if I’ll be able to feed my family. Cynically I wondered if the sleeplessness was God’s way of keeping me lucid regarding my pangs. I don’t know why I have to live in a world like this. Why was I born here and not somewhere else; somewhere where people can survive?

The darkness of this rainy morning seems a portend of my day; my life.

Today all of the tour cyclists will be eating rice and water only, in order to help us really understand the plight of many of the poor in 2/3’s world countries. What might seem an inconvenience to us is the plight of so many fellow riders on this planet. I pray that this very small gesture will allow us to better understand, feel, share in their sufferings.

Later that riceful day… Well, that was an experience! Eating nothing but rice for the entire ride was much more of a challenge than I had expected. Bland is not big enough a word. Despite my best efforts to shape my rice into different ‘food group’ shapes (rice granola bars, rice bananas, rice cream), I struggled. At one point during the ride, when we were all running out of gas and stopping at a SAG wagon, my teammate Rob made a desperate suggestion regarding one of the volunteers’ dog (yeah…) I was so protein starved that I found myself elated when I swallowed a fly at kilometer 70. Rob’s response, “I’d have had that fly if I was out in front!”

Joking aside, it was a very tough ride; it felt like I was operating on 50% power all day long. To be honest, the experience was probably most impacting in terms of the self knowledge it offered. While I did try to think a lot about the less fortunate, the greater lesson learned had to do with how unfortunate I am. Being brutally honest now… I got to see parts of me that I would prefer not exist… like… I want what I want when I want it. Period. I noticed in me an almost visceral response to this minor deprivation. It was scary. I don’t want to give anything up if I can avoid it. And when put in this kind of place I get upset; at the guy who came up with the idea to do this, “How in the world is eating rice going to make a difference? This is ridiculous. If I hear that a whole bunch of people backed off on our joint commitment, I’m going to get bent…” Am I such a product of our consumer driven culture? Or am I just a hugely ego-centric human being? Or both?

Got to think this day through a bit more. Anyway, for dinner they decided to throw some kidney beans into the mix, as a special reward for our efforts. Whopee! At first I was cynical, but then I tasted those beans… amazing. Never before have beans tasted so good, and we had pepper as well. Exploding off of your tongue let me tell you. Honest. It’s strange how relative things can be in life… after a day of rice the beans were a taste of heaven. I feel very satisfied right now and hope that I’ll be strong in my tent tonight (still got some granola bars in my bike bag from yesterday… one of them is a peanut butter bar… hard crunchy granola coated with a layer of the smooth stuff… oh, I can just smell it now…. Help!)

One more funny story. Rob had a problem with an abscess on one of his thighs and needed to stop in at the Espanola Hospital to have it treated this am. While he was in emergency getting looked at, I got concerned that he may not have enough rice with him. So I pulled a bag from my bike and had an emergency room nurse deliver it to him. “My friend Rob is getting his butt lanced and I’m really worried he doesn’t have enough rice to make it through. Could you deliver this to him as soon as possible?” With a smile she did. Rob threw the bag at me once he got out.

Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 10 2005 @ 06:17 PM PDT
Strange, I thought Rob liked rice, I know what the problem was: it must
have been white rice and it should have been brown rice.
Rob's mum


Calgary Radio CJ92 FM Sea to Sea interview #2

Aug 10, 2005

John joins Forbes and Friends on CJ92 Calgary for a second interview while on the road, cycling from Sea to Sea.

Listen to streaming mp3


Breaking News! – Major Thunder Storm Ravages Camp

Aug 09, 2005

“Chance of an afternoon thunder storm,” was the forecast… a future prediction that most certainly came true. The sky was deathly black and we all knew what was about to happen. Many had set up inside the arena, they became the fans. The players were those who decided to set up outside. As the intensity of the storm built, tents started to go down by the dozen. Teams of players started running out into the field, using plays that no playbook could have ever imagined. The fans cheered wildly as they stood by the community centre doors and windows. Trees were bent to their breaking points, and the wind was like a typhoon, a hurricane. Flashbulbs ablaze, the action was intense. Tents were flying everywhere.
Sitting safely inside, post game, a man named John sits a few chairs over. Someone just asked him if his tent was OK. “I don’t know,” was his response, “All I know is that it isn’t where I set it up.” More on the 11:00 news. Another woman named Anne was stuck inside her tent as the torrent raged. The wind physically started to move both her and her tent. As the players ran by they heard someone cry, “Help me!” No reports on Anne’s condition at this time.  Right now the rain is subsiding; and the game is about to end. Soon the damage accounting will begin. Sources at CRC headquarters are saying that the church government is putting together some disaster relief assistance.

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 09 2005 @ 06:53 PM PDT
Saw that weather system your way on the news today...did wonder how it would affect you all. Tent poles can be replaced...clothes dried...glad you all are well and safe! We'll keep praying for your safety. God is so good.

Thanks for pics...everyone's pics have been great, but I really enjoy the way you've included a part of your bike in turns each photo into a piece of art. Thanks! :)


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