Image: Lorraine Hardwick/Facebook

Image: Lorraine Hardwick/Facebook

When riders embark on long, meaningful journeys by bike, it’s common to hear those trips described as a pilgrimage which evokes the image of an intrepid traveler meeting the challenge of both nature and themselves.

For one Anglican bishop in Saskatchewan, the word is meant to be taken literally. Back in June, the Anglican Journal reported, Rob Hardwick—the 12th bishop of the prairie diocese of Qu’Appelle, covering the southern third of Saskatchewan’s landmass—took to the road, planning to travel 723 kilometers in nine days. The journey had two purposes, to be a “pilgrimage of prayer and worship” with parishioners, the other was to raise proceeds for the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund supporting medical expenses and other unforeseen costs in the diocese.

For the latter, Hardwick set out with the goal of raising $10,000. That goal has so far been doubled, netting the diocese $22,000 in total.

Image: Lorraine Hardwick

Image: Lorraine Hardwick

Hardick also repeated the physical benefits of the ride and the training that preceded it.  In covering the planned 723 kilometers, Hardwick endured some of a Prairie summer’s toughest conditions, like searing heat and shifting, unpredictable headwinds. Nonetheless, the bishop’s bike pilgrimage saw him clock an average of 25 kilometers per hour, putting more than 146 hills under his rubber. He also wasn’t alone. Between stops to lead services, attend events and speak at potluck feasts in 19 churches en route—events attended by a total of 377 people—Hardwick was joined by a squad of 15 other riders, and the results showed. After his ride and the two-year, 4,300 km training period that preceded it, the Saskatchewan rider lost 92 lbs.

That, however, wasn’t the only benefit of his journey, Hardwick said.

“Leadership demands much of us,” he told the Journal, “and if I have learned anything over the last few weeks, it is the importance of good preparation, staying prayerfully attentive, [and] to be willing to make the uncomfortable decision.”

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