• Tue August 04 2009
  • Posted Aug 3, 2009
By Tim Gallagher, Sioux City Journal | Posted: Tuesday, August 04, 2009 DAKOTA CITY, Neb. -- A bamboo bicycle built for three zig-zagging across the country stopped in Dakota City on Monday afternoon. "This is the only bicycle of its kind in the world," said Fred Soltow of Shepherdstown, W.Va., the captain or lead rider. Soltow is one third of the "Tour de Revs" effort involving pastors who ride to raise money and awareness in the fight against hunger in the world. They accepted a check for $625 on Monday, money raised in a collection Sunday at Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Dakota City. The trio left Chicago in 40-degree rain on May 13. Since then they have changed several tires, reached 48.8 miles per hour (top speed) and have endured a ride in 120-degree heat near Bullhead City, Ariz. They tipped over twice, but not while moving down the road. They hope to conclude their 100-day journey Aug. 20 in Minneapolis, arriving for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America National Assembly. By then, they will have pedaled at least 4,000 miles on this 30-speed, 52-pound bike that measures 10 feet, 4 inches. "Our goal is to stop at all 65 synod headquarters in the United States this summer," said third-seater Roger Munro, also of Shepherdstown. The middle of the bike is manned by Ron Schlak of Charleston, W.Va. Both Schlak and Soltow are pastors. Munro, a retiree from the Federal Aviation Administration, coordinated logistics for the trip and is now riding. Why bamboo? The substance is sturdy, absorbs road-shock and it's renewable. The frame was custom built by Craig Calfee of Calfee Design in La Selva Beach, Calif. "The fellow who built the bike has taught folks in Ghana how to build bikes made of bamboo," said Soltow. "They are finding it can be a sustainable business, something that helps them (transportation mode) while providing something they can export. It is providing an opportunity for the people of Ghana." Like many areas of the world, it is a region that needs all the economic diversity it can muster. Soltow and his fellow cyclists share a three-pronged message at stops along the way. They note the Bible contains 2,100 references to poverty, justice and hunger. They ask people to look at their own community and ask themselves if they can act differently. "There is poverty everywhere," Soltow said. They close with a message focusing on revenue. If each member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America gave up $5 per month, Soltow said, their church alone could raise $250 million annually to combat world hunger. "We were at a soup kitchen in New York City and a man gave us 25 cents," said Munro. "That was all he had, but he gave it to us. He was thankful he'd gotten a hot meal that day. That's what this is all about, helping each other." A member of Salem Lutheran Evangelical Church in Dakota City had already taken this message to heart. DelRae Beermann of rural Dakota City wed Wally Bielenberg on Saturday. Rather than ask for wedding gifts, the couple requested their guests give something to the Salem Lutheran Food Pantry. They collected dozens of canned and boxed food items. They also took in checks of nearly $1,000 for the pantry. "Both of us are very blessed," said Beermann. "We have what we need. One of my friends went to a wedding a year ago where the couple collected for a local food pantry. It sounded like a good idea." Following South Dakota stops Monday in Elk Point, Beresford and Sioux Falls, the "Tour de Revs" heads to Storm Lake, Iowa, today. Want to know more? For information about the "Tour de Revs," see or call (304) 268-5581. VIDEO:

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