What do two-pound hamburgers and mountain biking have in common?
If you ask Kevin Loomis, it is the desire to think huge.
This summer, as the leaders of the Mountain Bike Ministry (RockMTB) met for a cookout and brainstorming session, they were met with a heavy surprise: two-pound hamburgers.
"My desire was to challenge the guys to think of something so huge it would be impossible to do unless God was behind it," Kevin said.
To drive home his point, he grilled hamburgers that were nearly impossible to imagine-let alone eat-challenging the other leaders to put the same vision into RockMTB.
His message was heard and the Silent Ride was born.
Tricycles to Mountain Bikes
Everybody gathering to pray before going out on a moderate morning ride
RockMTB formed as the brainchild of Kevin Loomis nearly three years ago. He wanted to reach a community of people who would never consider setting foot in a church, but who love hardcore mountain biking.
The idea caught speed.
From a humble beginning of two leaders and fifteen riders, the ministry has grown to seven leaders and 300 riders.
"Slowly but surely God opened more and more doors, adding needed leaders," said Kevin. "Our webmaster and graphics designer, Steve Adams, came on board after the Men's Retreat.
"His desire was to use our website, www.RockMTB.com, as the main avenue to reach people. His desire ended up happening. Many people attend our rides after viewing our website."
The Nuts and Bolts
RockMTB consists of friends, enthusiasts and those who simply love the rush of screaming down a hill and burning back up.
"The one thing new riders will notice is how much fun everyone is having, minus the bad attitude and bad language. We are a hardcore bunch of guys who just happen to love Jesus," said Kevin.
"When we're together, the conversations always seem to be about Jesus or some killer ride we're on."
The desire of RockMTB is to reach out to more and more people that have never heard the Word of God. There is a mix of riders: one-third are from the Rock Church, one-third are from other local churches, and one-third are secular riders.
All of the leaders are advanced riders who enjoy pushing the pace and are able to challenge even the most experienced riders.
RockMTB puts together rides for all levels, including beginning, intermediate, and advanced. An emphasis is placed on safety and riders are encouraged to find a ride matching their level of experience.
Rides begin with a short time of prayer. During the ride, a lead rider keeps the pace for strong riders while a sweeper trails behind.
At the mid-point, the snaking line of riders stops for a bite to eat and a fifteen-minute outreach-minded devotional. Then the riders mount up and push the pedals to the end of the ride.
The Two-Pound Hamburger Vision
Somebody always brings a camera to take photos for the RockMTB.com website
Midway through his monster burger, inspiration struck Jason Berchek.
It is a tradition in the cycling community to honor a fallen rider by gathering in a highly visible locale and riding in funeral-procession manner, pedaling to a silent dirge.
The statement is silent yet powerful.
Jason was struck by the idea that Jesus Christ, our lead rider, died for us.
"Our lead rider is Jesus and He rose from the dead, forgiving us from our sins and giving us the gift of eternal life," Kevin explained.
The day between Good Friday and Easter, Saturday, March 26, 2005, was selected as the perfect day for the Rock's first Silent Ride.
"The ride is book ended between the day Christ died and the day Christ rose," noted Kevin. "What a perfect day to reflect and honor Christ for His sacrifice."
The event begins at 8:30 AM at the Ventura Cove public parking lot near the Bahia Bell in Mission Beach.
Every type of rider on any style bike is invited, so bring your mountain bike, road bike, or even beach cruiser. The ride will commence at 9:00 AM along the Mission Bay bike path to Crown Point Park.
The total distance is only 7.4 miles-3.7 miles each way, all on a flat, paved bike path.
RockMTB encourages children to participate, but asks parents to ensure that their children understand the importance of the silence. Of course, kids will be kids, and the park at the midway point has a playground if energy needs to be burned off.
Will Carreras, a RockMTB leader and seminary student, will give a quick devotional explaining the significance of the ride and the hope we have in our risen Savior. After the ride, everyone will return to their cars and leave in silence. The only spoken words will be Carreras' devotional.
"Our desire is to make this a national event," said Kevin. "If the response is huge, and with God's blessing, we'd like to see the Ride of Silence become an annual event throughout the country."
In fact, individuals from all over the United States and as far off as South Africa have contacted RockMTB about their group and the Silent Ride.
"Just imagine the power of this message tens of thousands of riders meeting in their cities-mountain bike riders, road riders, beach cruisers, and kids on bikes-to honor Christ in silence. That is our two pound hamburger vision."
Getting the Wheels Turning
It is easy to get involved with this exciting ministry. RockMTB has set up an outstanding website, www.RockMTB.com, providing profiles on the leaders, times and locations of rides, and recommended gear.
Safety being paramount, helmets are required for all RockMTB rides.
All levels of riders can find a niche, with the group's cross-country, downhill, and trials rides. In the past the group has also participated in races, including two, grueling twenty-four-hour races last year. The only rides you won't find here are road rides - sorry Lance.
RockMTB is a truly unique way to reach out to the lost while, at the same time, building a strong community of believers and friends.
To start riding, email Kevin Loomis at [email protected] or check out the website for times and locations.
For more information about the Mountain Bike Ministry, click here »