FARMINGTON — Thank God for water, trail mix and muffins - because that is what is going to fuel a pack of 10 pastors and church members who are bicycling five hundred miles across New Mexico starting Monday morning.

"And cookies," said Jeral Dickenson, a youth pastor and bicycle enthusiast from First Assembly of God in Farmington. "Cookies lift the spirit."

The pious pedallers, hailing from different churches across the state, are departing from the Colorado-New Mexico border about 20 miles north of Aztec.

Most of the riders are mildly experienced in cycling, some more than others.

"A lot of us have ridden 100 miles a day ... but a lot of us haven't ridden 100 miles consecutively for several days," Dickenson said.

The greater goal for the church-going athletes, though, will be to celebrate and promote Bike for the Light, a nationwide organization that assists missionaries in their journeys across the United States. The group is an offshoot of the larger organization, Speed-for-Light, which has the same purpose.

"The first Bike for the Light tour was just me," said the group's founder Johnny Kelley of Florida.

Kelley started Bike for the Light in 2008, and since has traveled thousands of miles with supporters from the Mexico to the Canada borders, and from the West Coast to the East Coast.

"For some reason, when you show up on a bike, people want to listen," said Kelley, who usually stops each night to speak to those who want to listen along the way.


The group that will ride alongside Kelley this week will travel to Cuba on the first day, which many of the riders are considering the toughest stretch. The following four days, they will then continue to Albuquerque, Clines Corners, Roswell, Carlsbad, Alamogordo, and then will finish at the Texas-New Mexico border.

The crew will receive rides in between several destinations because it will be tailed by a vehicle carrying 100 gallons of water and loads of energy bars.

"New Mexico has some of the most extreme and technical biking in the country, but it's gorgeous," Kelley said, just before noting that it also has the longest and most boring stretch of road he ever rode - a 227-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 285. "There's nothing ... The only thing you see is the jackrabbits in the distance."