Adams County included in tour for Chinese bike riders

Authored by Jim Langham on Aug 11, 2010

Thanks to Bob Davenport, founder of the internationally acclaimed Christian bike riding mission, Wandering Wheels, a group of 25 Chinese riders had the opportunity to ride their bikes on the back roads of Adams County on Monday. In fact, back roads are what their American bike-riding excursion is all about. Through the strategic planning of Davenport and other Wandering Wheels veterans, the group is spending several days examining sites not normally available for foreign tourists who visit the area.
In the early 1980’s, Wandering Wheels took a team of cyclists to China.
“A life-changing experience was had by our U.S. cyclists,” said Davenport. “Several other China tours were conducted following our first tour.”
As a result of Wheels’ China visits, an invitation was extended to the Chinese to bring a cycling team to the United States. All expenses would be paid from Wheels’ participants. At the time of that 1988 trip, $100,000 was raised which paid for all of the trip expenses as well as their air travel. The Schwinn Bicycle Company donated bikes and American families hosted the team night after night.
“This summer Wandering Wheels is hosting a visiting group of Chinese, some of whom were team members on the 1988 coast-to-coast team,” observed Davenport. “This time our visitors are paying their own way, but asked Wandering Wheels to be a part of their four-day stay here in the Midwest.”
Davenport said that the entire tour is based on linkage with small towns. Church people host families.
“They have taken over a million pictures so far,” said Davenport. “They love taking pictures of America’s heartland. The main emphasis is for them to have experiences staying in American homes. They range between the ages of 15 and 55. Most of them are in their 40’s and 50’s.”
Local resident Toni Wurster, along with her husband, Brad, and children Nicholas, Madelyn and Zachary, were looking forward to hosting some of the visitors. Wurster said that she and her husband were eager for their children to have the opportunity to encounter and visit with people from a different culture.
“We felt that this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity to actually experience people in our own home from a different culture,” said Wurster. “We are eager to visit with them and hear about their way of living.
“We want to learn more about people that live in another part of the world,” said Wurster. “We want them to know that we are good people, people who have a strong faith in Christ.”
Mayor John Minch greeted the visitors when they arrived in the Mennonite Church parking lot at 11 a.m.
“As you travel through this area you will see our Swiss heritage,” Minch told the visitors. “We thank you for coming and give you a warm greeting. We hope that you will enjoy our clock tower which is like the clock tower in Bern, Switzerland.”
Minch’s remarks were passed on to the group through an interpreter.
“We appreciate you taking the time to stop into a small community that considers itself to be a part of real America,” added Minch.
“This is so wonderful. It couldn’t be better,” said visitor William Su. “We were so surprised that ‘coach’ (Davenport, former football coach at Taylor University) took the time to make the arrangements. You don’t come over here on a normal tour and see this part of America. We are so glad to be in this town.”
“This country is really beautiful,” commented tourist Helena Pan. “We are so amazed by the paved roads, and that there is no traffic on them.
“We are very impressed by how friendly everyone is in the small towns,” continued Pan. “Everyone has fed us so well. Everyone has been so friendly to all of us. The hostess’s have all been so friendly. People all wave to us at the intersections.”
The visitors arrived in Indianapolis last Friday. On Saturday they took a country ride in the Upland area. On Sunday, they were given a special tour of Weaver Popcorn Company in Van Buren. Following their southern Adams County ride, they were transported to Chicago on Tuesday to begin their return to China.
“A main purpose in all of this is a gentle persuasion toward the things of God and what that means in our lives,” said Davenport. “They are staying in Christian homes. We want to give them a good positive feeling about the American church. They stayed in local homes in 1988; many of them enjoyed that so much that they wanted to return and do it again.
“We wanted them to see what Christ has done in the lives of these church people,” added Davenport. “God can take it from there.”


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