Tour History and Quick Facts

Tour History

The genesis of Sea to Sea can be traced back to a memo titled ‘Bikeathon - A Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal’ written by Al Karsten on November 2, 2002 after hearing a missionary nurse talk about a person who was walking the Appalachian Trail as a fundraiser for the organization now known as World Renew. From there the idea was developed by a small team consisting of Al, Peter Slofstra, Marlene Boardman and David Raakman. Peter introduced the name "Sea to Sea". That idea became the first Sea to Sea tour which rode from Vancouver to Halifax in 2005 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Christian Reformed Church in Canada. The first tour manager for Sea to Sea was Ed Witvoet.  Early in the planning process it was decided that some of the funds should be used to fund "Make Poverty History" and "The Micah Challenge", both focused on ending poverty. That goal has remained a key focus of all Sea to Sea events. The first Sea to Sea was composed of 97 full distance riders, 62 segment riders and 38 volunteers. After expenses the tour raised $942,000. If you would like to learn more about this historic first tour then purchase the book "In Tandem" by Peter Slofstra. Much of the information in this paragraph comes from the book so we are grateful for his effort in preserving the history of that first Sea to Sea. Peter was part of the initial planning team, named the tour "Sea to Sea", acted as co-chaplain on the ride and rode the full distance on a tandem bike with his wife Marja. You can find the book at

In 2007, planning for a 2008 Sea to Sea hit high gear due in part to the efforts of 2005 rider Claire Elgersma who would act as Chairperson of the 2008 and 2013 tours. Ed Witvoet reprised his role as tour manager. The 2008 tour began at the Pacific in Seattle and made it's way across the western United States to Denver, continued on to Grand Rapids, Michigan, briefly crossed Canada to Niagara Falls and concluded in Jersey City on the shores of the Atlantic. Major tour partners were World Renew, Partners Worldwide & CRWM. Minor tour partners were CRC Home Missions & RCA Global. New for 2008 was the decision to grant 25% of proceeds to local organizations fighting to end poverty. Grants were made to 57 organizations.  Sea to Sea 2008 was comprised of 127 full distance riders, 98 segment riders and 26 volunteers. After expenses the tour raised $1,600,000. In 2008 many riders chronicled their experience in blogs. You can see photos from the 2008 tour here.

Following the success of the 2008 tour, a group led by Claire pursued an effort to have a third tour. Inexplicably it would be 5 years before the next Sea to Sea tour. Finally in 2012 preparations began for the 2013 tour. The tour would again ride to raise awareness and funds to work towards ending poverty, The amount of funds used for grants was raised from 25% to 35%. In a show of unity and cooperation RCA Global became a major partner joining World Renew and Partners Worldwide. New for 2013 was the option for riders to participate for just one week and a southern start. Sea to Sea 2013 would ride from Los Angeles to Toronto, Montreal and then finish on Staten Island. The tour struggled with a suspension due to record heat, re-routing due to forest fires and numerous route changes. Sea to Sea 2013 was comprised of 78 full distance riders, 136 segment riders and 45 volunteers. After expenses the tour raised $887,512. The majority of the drop was due to 49 fewer full distance riders.  Blogs for these riders are still on the Blog page of the website. You can see photos from the 2013 tour here.

Upon the conclusion of Sea to Sea 2013 tour partners committed to conducting future tours at closer intervals and also create smaller one day and one week events in order to encourage greater participation by those who want to make an impact in the fight to end poverty. You can see upcoming tours here.

In 2014 Sea to Sea became a location partner with Ride for Refuge and helped raise over $30,000 for local charities focused on helping the displaced, vulnerable and exploited in Grand Rapids, MI. You can read more about it here.

In 2015 Sea to Sea welcomes IJM Canada to our Sea to Sea East and West Events. Stay tuned to learn more.

Why Is Sea to Sea Riding?

  • To Glorify God.
  • To Proclaim God's redeeming power through Jesus Christ.
  • To raise awareness and money to fight poverty around the world.
  • To motivate people to become involved in their community helping those in need.

Poverty Facts

  • 1 in 6 North Americans don't know where their next meal is coming from.
  • Nearly half the world—three billion people—live on less than $2.50 a day.
  • One child dies every 4 pedal strokes due to poverty.
  • About 2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized.
  • 400 million people do not have access to health services.

Tour Fund Recipients

  • 2013 Tour recipients include the World Renew, Partners Worldwide, the Reformed Church in America and 54 local ministries focused on fighting poverty.
  • 2008 Tour recipients included World Renew, Christian Reformed World Missions, Partners Worldwide, the Reformed Church in America, Christian Reformed Home Missions and 57 local ministries focused on fighting poverty.
  • 2005 Tour recipients included Christian Reformed Home Missions and Make Poverty History.

Anticipated Outcomes

  • To raise awareness and money to support the work of agencies that alleviate poverty locally, nationally, and internationally.
  • To enhance passion for engaging in ministry work that transforms lives and communities.
  • To encourage people to step forward and change the lives of those around them through a daily act of caring.