Why a Bike?
I am among the first to say that Spoke Folk isn’t really about biking. When I share this ministry with others and they don’t think Spoke Folk is for them because they aren’t cyclists, I tell them biking is what we do, not who we are. We are not just a group of people on bikes traveling purposelessly around a state. We are a loving and supportive Christian community that is passionate about living and sharing the Gospel through music, words, and actions as we travel on our bikes.
So then, why a bike? If Spoke Folk is not primarily about biking, why do we use bikes to travel from church to church? Biking is an integral part of this ministry and how it accomplishes its goals. It’s important enough that it made it into our name (without Spoke, we’d just be Folk).
We need to travel from church to church so we can share our program with congregations in different communities. Our form of transportation is bicycles. Anyone who has been a part of a full tour that had to ride in the vans from one church to another due to inclement weather is glad that we don’t try to fit 40 people, their luggage, and our sound equipment in our support vans every day. Biking is a much more spacious and enjoyable means of travel.
Biking is a unique way to travel 50 miles every day and an unusual aspect of a Christian ministry. This part of Spoke Folk gives us opportunity to start conversations with people about our ministry and our faith. As we pass through an area, people working in their yards will stop us to ask what our group bikers with matching orange flags is up to. Fellow cyclists who pass us on the road will sometimes join us for a mile or two and chat. When we need to refill our water bottles or stop for a bathroom, we meet many people who graciously offer hospitality. As we are blessed by these individuals we would have never met otherwise, we have the opportunity to be an example of God’s love in return.
An even greater amount of time on our bikes is spent getting to know fellow tour members. Biking gives us the chance to get to know one another. Out on the road, we spend several hours with just one or two other members of the tour. This is the best time to get know someone else on the tour. Sometimes conversations are fun and goofy. Other times they are serious and deep. Either way the time out on the road is great for building and strengthening relationships with tour members.
It’s good to be challenged. Biking 50 miles every day is certainly a challenge for most of us on tour. Pushing ourselves physically keeps the bodies God gave us healthy and strong. Stepping outside of our comfort zone to do something we wouldn’t normally think we could do builds confidence in our abilities.
The challenges of the road also allow us to practice supporting one another. On Spoke Folk, you learn how to encourage others as you are experiencing the same challenges yourself. Biking days go by so quickly with the strength of others to push and the joy of others to distract you. This opportunity to work together deepens our relationships and helps us work as a team in other aspects of ministry.
You see the world different from a bicycle. Biking gives us the opportunity to experience the beauty of God’s creation in a more personal way. You notice much more about the beauty of the countryside by biking on back roads than you do driving on highways. In the open air surrounded by nature, you gain a new appreciation for God’s creation. I’ve had the opportunity to experience several states for the first time on Spoke Folk. I have a more intimate knowledge of the Iowa hills, the Massachusetts coast, and the Pennsylvania mountains because of the time on my bike on Spoke Folk than areas I’ve traveled to off tour. Even areas close to home can seem different when you experience from the seat of a bike.