photo by Ellen Mortensen
Riders in the 7th Annual NYM Missions Bike Ride came from five states, and included Broken Bow natives Jon Miller and his sister, Jen (Miller) Busch. The group made an overnight stop in Broken Bow Thursday, Sept. 6. Pictured, from left, are: Pastor Rob Conner, Nebraska City; Dale Ackerman,Grand Island; Pastor Kelvin Nygren, Omaha; Brian Korel, Youth Alive Missionary; Pastor Chuck Davis, Omaha; Pastor Dave Busch, Burwell; Pastor Luke Storher, Mullen; Kent Anderson, Rural Compassion Missionary; A.j. DeWitt -Master's Commission, Rapid City; Pastor Kevin Roach, South Sioux City; Rebecca Eggburt, Master's Commission, Rapid City; Pastor Dan Oneil, Grand Island; Jason Townley, Grand Island; Shane Bappe, Cozad; Pastor Toby Schneckloth, District Youth Director; Jon Miller, Des Moines, Iowa; JJ, Missionary; Bethany Nalley, Master's Commission, Rapid City. Not pictured, David Stitt, Retired Missionary
For the past seven years, bicycle enthusiasts from the Midwest have come together for a special ride to enjoy a passion they all share, and to raise money for a good cause.
Itâ€™s called the Nebraska Youth Ministries Missions Bike Ride, and this year featured 22 riders from five different states. The 500-mile ride runs from border to border, with the cyclists beginning their journey at the South Dakota border north of Chadron, and finishing at the Iowa border east of Nebraska City.
The group traveled along the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, more commonly known as Highway 2, between Alliance and Grand Island, making an overnight stop in Broken Bow last Thursday. It was a special stop for two of those involved with the ride - Jon Miller and Jen (Miller) Busch - as this is their hometown.
The group met at the Assembly of God Church in Broken Bow, Jon and Jenâ€™s home church, where they were fed supper and given an opportunity to rest, regroup and perform any necessary repairs or maintenance on their bikes. After spending the night in a local motel, the cyclists reconvened bright and early at the church Friday morning to continue their journey, with a planned ride from Broken Bow to Grand Island Friday.
Seven years ago the annual ride began with just six bicyclists. Throughout the years it has continued to grow, as has the amount of money raised. Last year the group raised $34,000 for various missionaries around the world.
The border-to-border trek is split up into day long rides, with the shortest day being the last day with 65 miles from Lincoln to Nebraska City. The longest day of this trip was 100 miles. The riders break every 10 miles, and some of them say that can be a very long 10 miles sometimes. The cyclists vary in age from 19 to 71.
The day-long sections for this yearâ€™s trip were: 20 miles north of Chadron to Alliance; Alliance to Thedford; Thedford to Broken Bow; Broken Bow to Grand Island; Grand Island to Lincoln; and Lincoln to Nebraska City.
The missions bike ride was the idea of Scott Murrish of Kearney, but the group says it was Toby Schneckloth who ran with that idea and â€śgave it wheels.â€ť Each year a committee of five organizes this event; this yearâ€™s committee leader was Brian Korell of Grand Island.
Brian has participated in the ride for six of its seven years in existence. â€śI do it every year because of the relationships built with the other riders, and to support the missions,â€ť he says.
One rider who has been along on all seven events is Kelvin Nygren of Pacific Springs Church in Omaha. He is also one of the five committee members.
â€śItâ€™s a good way to raise money for the missions around the world,â€ť says Nygren. â€śI have built relationships with the riders - and I love biking!â€ť
With four children, Jen Busch does not get to participate in the full 500-mile ride. But she did ride the 10 miles from Merna to Broken Bow with the group, and she and Jon got to lead the group into their hometown - complete with a police escort. Jenâ€™s husband, Dave, is the pastor at the Burwell Assembly of God Church and a participant in the ride.
â€śThis is probably my favorite week of the year,â€ť says Dave Busch. â€śThere is so much comaraderie and fellowship - I make new friends every year. And I like the physical challenge of the ride.â€ť
Unfortunately, the group did not exactly get off to a good start Friday morning. As they were leaving Broken Bow, Kelvin Nygren hit a large crack in the pavement on Highway 2 near the SJSB Visitor Center, and crashed. Broken Bow rescue responded and checked him over for any broken bones or a concussion, and thankfully - though severely scraped up - he was cleared. He rode in one of the support vehicles for most of the day, but did join the group for the final 10 miles into Grand Island, and finished out the ride on his bike.