My name is Justin, and I am joining the bike adventure for a short time this summer, the culmination of a few years of haranguing by some friends and personal pledge I made to myself to discover more of the world around me. I work in Chicago as a teacher, and I like to fancy myself a chef, but those things hardly seem important out here. What I have experienced most and what I will most fondly recall from the Fuller Center Bike Adventure are not the sights, though they've been breathtaking (any disparaging of Ohio and Indiana you hear from anyone else is much overblown), nor the smells, which have been, to put it lightly, diverse, nor the bodily feelings of pain, soreness, hunger, satiation, and hugs, but rather, above all these other senses, it will be the sounds.
This year has been no exception. Yesterday, we had the privilege of attending the dedication of the home we worked on the day before. It was a first for me. As the couple gave their thanks to us and The Fuller Center of Greater Toledo, I thought how what we had done, mostly painting, was so simple but such a blessing to the family. I think these trips remind me that sometimes small acts of service can be just as much of a blessing as the big ones. We did nothing earth shattering on Saturday but to Roy and Dee we did. It’s rather humbling to be a part of something like that. Maybe it’s these kinds of things that make this trip so special and what keeps me coming back year after year.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son [John 3:16]
On this trip I have seen unlimited love and sacrifice from our hosts, as well as our teammates.
Today we had a short 60 mile ride. We started out in Sandusky and our end destination was in Toledo. We rode across the countryside, it was a beautiful view. There was nothing but farmland and road for as far as the eye could see. We were the only ones on the road except for the few cars that drove by us. We were able to ride in groups and talk the whole way, it's a great way to bond with your fellow bikers. The first rest stop turned into a bit of a dance party, some of us broke out in dance and some even started singing. Then we hopped back on our bikes and headed to the next one. While biking to it we got to ride on a very nice bike path for about 10 miles. It's always nice to be on a path because then we don't have to worry about traffic and we also have the opportunity to stop and talk to other bikers or walkers/runners who are curious as to why a group of bikers all in orange are speeding past. Most of them are shocked that we are going all the way to Oregon.
Despite the rain and an early 4:30 wake up today, we had a great ride. Although I miss the woodland scenery, the flat lands of Ohio are a welcome change after the mountains of Pennsylvania. The entire route today was along the coast of Lake Erie, which was a comforting sight for this Michigan girl. Also I broke a personal record and rode my bike with no handlebars for almost 6 miles! Beyonce (my fierce red bicycle) got her second flat of the trip today (don’t worry mom, I had my hands on the handlebars when this happened). Although inconvenient, I felt overwhelmed by the care and support of everyone here. Not only did several people stop to help me; but also they were so quick to offer their tubes, pumps, CO2 cartridges, and so on. This ride has allowed me to meet some of the most sacrificial and selfless people. From the exceedingly hospitable hosts in the places we stay, to my fellow riders, to even the owners of the homes that we help build (people who already have very little)- the general attitude seems to say “what is mine is yours and your needs come before mine.” I feel both blessed to be in this community and have been challenged to become more like the wonderful people around me.
Today, the ride was going very smoothly and everyone seemed to be having a good day. After two
After 79 miles of biking on Monday through a few showers and across the Pennsylvania-Ohio border, we settled into Escape House, a retreat center located on the grounds of The Church in Aurora, Ohio. After an early dinner, a number of us watched the US pull out a great win over Ghana in our opening World Cup match. We tucked our bikes away in the basement and bid them farewell for a day off the saddles, trading them in for hammers and paint brushes.
I guess I’ll start my blog off by introducing myself to you all. My name is Dan Zassick, and I am a returning rider to the FCBA. I had the great pleasure of riding the West Coast in 2012 and knew that I had to come back and ride again. I can honesty say that I am beside myself with excitement at being able to ride across the country with an awesome group and at the same time get to help others along the way.
Well today started a little unusual. We lost our way in trying to catch up with the lead group of riders. If you miss a turn on a ride you can end of putting a lot of additional miles which indelibly puts a lot of unnecessary stress on you and your bike. Fortunately when you are riding with a great organization like the Fuller Center, you're really not very far from help. After traveling about 4 miles out the way AJ and I had noticed that we were not seeing the familiar marking that are posted by the Fuller riders on the streets to mark your way. Once we realize this, we checked our written directions and a passerby, and we turned around and made our way back to the marked route. While this was going on, we received a call from our support vehicle as well to locate our whereabouts. After assuring them that we alright, we continued on to our destination and rejoined our team at our first water break at mile 22. On our Garmin it read mile 33. We ended up riding 11 more miles than we needed. We rode 87 miles to the scheduled 76! Lesson learned - when you don't know the route - check it a lot sooner.
I am enjoying my second trip with the Fuller Center. That can do spirit still pervades all that are here. I am also amazed at the number of riders who are "going all the way" as mentioned in our first meeting. It's certainly inspirational and it makes me think that maybe one year in the not too distant future that I too can join this group of adventurers. Way to go Fuller Center!
Ahhh. Sunday has arrived. After a long, but terrific, first week that featured build stops with Fuller Center partners in Atlantic City, NJ and Philadelphia, PA and more rolling hills than anyone would wish to count, a day of rest was welcomed. In our first two years of this adventure we used to consider our build days the "rest" days just because we weren't biking! We had 2-3 rest days total over the whole summer. Big mistake. Rest is important, especially in a brutally challenging multi-week marathon like this one. Now we try to take Sundays off every week, and it's a great improvement to the ride. We're always learning and improving!
So how do we use these precious days of rest? Oh in so many ways. We go to church. We fix our bikes. We wash our bikes. We take long, glorious naps. We explore the town. We buy things we really need. We hold a team meeting. Since it's the transition day between each week-long segment, we say goodbye to our new friends who are leaving and hello to even newer friends who are joining!
Today is the end of our first segment and for some of our family of riders, a day they are leaving us. Renee and Laurence we will miss you! One of the riders, John who had only committed to this segment of the trip decided to join for the next 8 segments! At the start of our ride I clearly remember John standing on the beach in Atlantic City and expressing that he's been waiting 35 years to be able to bike across the US and that next year would be his chance, he said that God knows the right time and it's always best to wait on Him. What a great treat and truly amazing journey the coming weeks will be.
This last week has been a catalyst in my life by challenging myself daily to let God clothe me and to trust Him fully. These last 10 days have had its fair share of ups and downs (cummilitavly over 21,000 ft of climbing elevation) and close to 500 miles of biking in the rain and sunshine. The people we've met and the families and stories we've been in the midst of have been motivating our souls to rise up and get to work. Every flat tire (which we've encountered well over 10 between Greg and I) have been an opportunity of chance meeting with people who want to share their stories with us and learn more about how they can help in their communities with housing needs. The amount of Love surrounding us daily is overwhelming and hopeful.
We are encouraged in living simply by being present in the moment, grateful for the time we've been given and looking and being prepared for any opportunity to serve in any way we can. The road reminds us of our journey in life by calling out road obstacles up ahead and cheering each other along the way to the goal. We all have strengths and weaknesses and different paces but we are all homeward bound. Hands to work and hearts to God.