Anglican cyclists explore diocese, raise funds

Posted on May 13, 2019

By Stuart Mann

For the past two summers, a group of Anglicans have been going on cycling trips around the diocese, enjoying the great outdoors and raising money for important causes. The group, which calls itself the Anglican Cycle of Prayer, has made about five trips, some of them in Toronto but others farther afield.   

“It started with some friends who were riding bikes,” explains Jana Shaw, the husband of Bishop Riscylla Shaw and a keen rider. “We thought it would be fun to get together and grow something organically.”

Jana Shaw (left), the Rev. Canon Gary van der Meer (middle) and David Nowell stop during a ride in the countryside. Photos courtesy of Anglican Cycle of Prayer

The group’s first trip was from Church Camp, located on the shores of Lake Simcoe, to Bradford in the summer of 2017, raising money for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund. Last summer, some group members accompanied Bishop Rob Hardwick as he pedalled from Hamilton to Toronto as part of his cross-Canada ride to raise funds for the national church’s Healing Fund. The group also rode around Horseshoe Valley.

The trips aren’t all pedalling. The group makes stops along the way to look at significant sites and enjoys a meal at the end of every ride. Members wear attractive shirts that are designed like the flag of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Mr. Shaw says the shirts often draw attention. “They give us great visibility,” he says with a smile. “We’ve had people say, ‘Yay Anglicans!’”

The group holds about two rides a year – a short one (about 15 km) and a long one (about 100 km). The first ride this year was to the Beaches in Toronto on May 8, followed by a lunch. The group is planning a longer ride this summer.

The group is made up of about 12 clergy and laity, and new members are always welcome, whether they are experienced cyclists or not. “We go at a pace that people are comfortable with and we don’t leave anyone behind,” says Mr. Shaw. “It’s all about having fun and getting together for a ride.”

Bishop Riscylla Shaw (left) Emese Borbely (middle) and the Rev. Canon Nicola Skinner in front of Lake Simcoe.

He says the group is an alternative to traditional cycling clubs, which usually hold their big ride on Sunday mornings. “If you ride a bike and go to church, it can be a little bit isolating because you don’t get to do that group ride on Sunday morning. But with our group, we don’t have that problem. It’s worked out really well and it’s a lot of fun.”

He says cycling can also be a spiritual experience. “There is an element of prayer to it, and when you’re on a bike for a long time with a group of people, the conversation can go anywhere,” he says.

Mr. Shaw, a life-long cyclist who has done touring and racing, says cycling is a form of exploration. “When you’re a kid, you pedal around the corner and suddenly you’re in a different world. It’s a great feeling, and I just like to share that experience with people.”

The Rev. Sandor Borbely, the incumbent of St. Thomas, Shanty Bay and a member of the group, says cycling is a great way to see the Ontario countryside. He and his wife go cycling about once a week in the summer, sometimes to Barrie and back as a shorter ride or to other destinations in Simcoe County, when they can go for a longer ride with a local biking group. “There are a lot of good biking trails up here and the countryside is beautiful,” he says.

He says cycling with the Anglican Cycle of Prayer is a great experience. “It’s been a lot of fun, coming together and biking and fundraising,” he says. “It’s a wonderful initiative and I hope others will join us for our next adventure.”

For more information, visit the Anglican Cycle of Prayer’s Facebook page or email Prayer.bike.ride@gmail.com.