GOSHEN — The dream for a pan-American cycling adventure was born for Levi Smucker, Abe Stucky, and Michael Miller on the couches in a dormitory room at Goshen College in late 2010,
As roommates and friends, they shared a passion for biking and gradually as they voiced their ideas and hopes, “a feasible trip began to form itself in our heads and hearts,” Smucker said.
Their journey started May 23 from Asunción, Paraguay and they pedaled their way through the countries of Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico and the United States.
The 22-year-old friends pedaled into Goshen around 7 p.m. Friday with more than 10,300 miles under their bike wheels to complete the journey.
“It’s been an unforgettable 11 months. We’ve seen a lot of things and will incorporate them into the rest of our lives,” Smucker said. “We saw a lot of God’s provisions. There were hard times, but we had a lot of trust.”
They had mishaps along the way but no one was seriously injured. There were flat tires, of course, along with maintenance on bicycle parts that took the brunt of more than 10,000 miles.
“Michael had 21 flats alone. We replaced tires, gears, and cassettes. We oiled and wiped many, many times,” Smucker said.
An Anabaptist-Mennonite history course offered by John Roth at Goshen College provided a reason for a one-way trip to Paraguay. The wealth of Latino culture and Spanish language education in Goshen provided a healthy context for preparation.
“Our own dreaming provided the raw material for what has become the learning experience of a lifetime,” Smucker said.
Their intentions and purpose of the trip included learning about sustainable farming practices in Ecuador; continuing studies of Anabaptism in Central and South America through interviews; opening themselves to new perspectives on faith and what it means to be a Christian; connecting with people amidst the diversity of cultures across South and North America; practicing and improving their Spanish language skills; challenging themselves by leaving what they held as familiar to discover something new; and exploring the kingdom of God and worshiping with churches across South and North America.