Participants inspired €100,000 (approximately $113,000 USD) worth of donations by cycling 1,000 km (621.3 miles) across Germany – a tangible result of the 12-14 June 2020, ‘Coronaride’ that will undoubtably bless the projects and people who receive the gifts. But for Chris (South Africa), a sports ministry leader, the unseen effects of 72 hours of continuous prayer matter more.
“The purpose was to start a movement of prayer, to create momentum for others to follow,” Chris explained. “My part in this Coronaride sometimes feels small, but I believe together we really got something moving. We initiated prayer on and off the bikes, and we have seen loads of people partake.”
As the Coronaride drew closer, Chris prepared a 12-week training plan and asked a friend in South Africa to help coach him. “He was so helpful,” Chris remembered.
Despite his preparation and training programme, his specialised road bike began giving him trouble. “I went out several days with different training partners, and the gears kept slipping. Apart from that problem we kept on replacing different parts, and I kept falling back on my mountain bike during interval trainings,” Chris recalled. “I made sure that I kept eating the right food, focussed on good nutrition and did a lot of exercises to strengthen my core.”
A couple of weeks before the ride, a few friends who were also participating wanted to do a 300 km training ride. “However, on the Saturday, we left a little bit later than planned and only 20 km on the road, my new chain just got stuck, and I could not move. Suddenly the opportunity of a long training day was gone. The other cyclists carried on, but I returned home with the help of another friend to then jump on my trustful mountain bike,” Chris said.
He managed to complete 150 km on the mountain bike and returned home, “even more dedicated to being a part of the Coronaride,” he said.
In the end, Chris decided to ride his mountain bike, rather than the road bike, during the challenge. The first day started well. “The road bikes obviously had a little bit advantage as they are faster on the flats; however, I made up for it, staying in the group,” he described. “As the day drew to a close, my legs started hurting, and especially my knee was in pain. I kept in pace behind the road bikes, which was hard work and extra exhausting, but the team's encouragement and support motivated me to keep going.”
Eventually, Chris began to lag behind and knew he might not complete the day. “At the 300 km mark, I stopped with a sharp pain in my knee. I was in excruciating pain and forced to stop,” he shared. Chris called his wife and “after some encouraging words, I got back on my bike in pain and managed to complete the extra 7 km to our waiting support vehicle. I felt I had failed and was so disappointed in myself.”
The other cyclists finished the day’s route while Chris rested his legs and spent the remainder of the day praying, as he had intended to do on the bike. Later, checking his activity monitor, Chris discovered he had ridden 307 km in 12 hours and 49 minutes on a mountain bike – a personal and perhaps a world record*. “Maybe I failed to complete the 1,000 km, but I believe I did my part,” he said.
Although Chris only cycled the first day, he travelled with the team in the support vehicle the whole weekend, encouraging the other riders and actively participating in an international WhatsApp prayer group with around 120 people.
“It was not about the bike, more about the prayer we mobilised,” he emphasised. The feedback in that regard has been encouraging. In addition to individuals volunteering for 144 prayer slots that spanned time zones to cover the duration of the Coronaride, “people were woken up in the middle of the night [to pray], people who weren’t in the group prayed for us because they felt something going on,” Chris explained. “That is… something to celebrate.”
One friend prayed for an hour and a half every day in Zambia; a team of seven in Central Asia also prayed throughout the event. Even OM’s international director, Lawrence Tong, phoned Chris to tell him he had prayed for a country in North Africa with very few known Jesus followers. “I think there’s so much stuff still that we will see from that [prayer],” Chris said. “I would love to hear what are some of the miracles that have happened, big or small, on the other side of the prayers.”
Personally, Chris experienced God’s guidance during the Coronaride. “I do feel that there were times that I was operating out of my own strength,” he admitted. On the first day, where Chris struggled, cycling into the wind, he heard God’s assurance: “Trust Me.” During what he described as a spiritual storm on the second day, Chris leaned on friends, who phoned him and prayed. One friend also gave him a Scripture verse. “It was like a godsend,” Chris shared.
At the end of the weekend, the other cyclists completed the 1,000 km challenge, and Chris invited those who had participated in prayer to join another group to continue the spiritual momentum. “Together we are stronger; together we can do so much more. Together we succeeded! Surely something to celebrate,” he said.
*The furthest recorded distance ridden on a mountain bike was 577.78 km completed in 24 hours, according to Guinness World Records. In 12 hours, Chris cycled 307 km, more than half of the record’s distance.