As part of a leadership course with their church in 2017, Al and Stacy Vega were challenged to research a ministry they wanted to start. Al discovered LIFECYCLES, a local organization that wraps mentoring, spiritual development, and life skills development in the adventure of a Christ-centered bicycle touring experience for urban teens.The mission of the organization appealed to him and he invited his son, AJ, to join him as he went along on a ride in Marietta to learn more. The next week AJ invited friends and before he knew it, Al had a truck full of boys who wanted to ride bike.
Since 2018 he spends Thursday evenings between April and September leading a group of teen boys on bicycle rides around New Holland. The cyclists start and end their rides at Garden Spot Village and often enjoy a meal together at the end.
Bryan Groff, director of human resources, also helps to lead the group. “I think LIFECYCLES is a great way to speak into the lives of boys in a fun and nonthreatening way,”Bryan says. “Riding bike is an alternative to team sports,so boys who may not have interest in the traditional team sports can participate, get some exercise, be with friends and meet new friends. At the same time, there is an opportunity for leaders to do some mentoring and encourage the boys.”
Al says, “Our mission is to build young men of character in a Christ-centered bicycle touring adventure. We have trained volunteers from different walks of life to help teenage boys in challenging environments to dream and to achieve their goals with respect, dignity and encouragement. We place emphasis on completing school and entering the workforce, a trade school or college. We work with churches, youth ministries and community services to help us teach the boys life skills, teamwork, leadership, followership, hope and optimism.”