The Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure wrapped up its third annual spring ride down The Natchez Trace Parkway in Jackson, Mississippi, on Saturday. Today, busy Adventure leader Melissa Merrill sat down for a brief question-and-answer session to tell us about the 400-mile, weeklong journey and what’s ahead for the summer adventure.
We had the biggest spring crowd yet — 36 riders — on this year’s ride. What effect did that have?
Well, the more people we can get involved, the better, for sure. That’s because we want more people involved in this ministry, but also because it’s a great experience for them and it’s an awesome ride that we want to share with everyone. Still, it’s not like it’s a thousand people so we can still have a really cool team-oriented ride that allows people the ability to create relationships that they take away from the event. And I think we still have room to grow.
It’s the third time we’ve been down this route. Is this something we could get tired of?
Definitely not. It’s such a beautiful place to bike for one thing. It’s beautiful scenery. The road has very little traffic. One of the things I love about it is that there are very few bumps in the road, which you really learn to appreciate after biking all over the place. The road is very well taken care of, and we get very few flats.
But also, one of the real benefits of doing it over and over again is that we get to go see some of the people that we’ve built relationships with at the churches we stop at along the way. It’s really cool. It’s an event that they look forward to every year now. All of them say, ‘We want you to come back next year.’ That makes my job a lot easier. It’s just really cool to go back and see some of those people that we’ve built relationships with.
Another benefit of doing the same route multiple times is we’re always looking for ways to improve the next year. We took notes on where the best rest stops are, and we’re looking into ways to optimize our use of the Trace on some of the more high-traffic sections.
What’s the summer ride looking like? (The summer Bicycle Adventure — 3,600 miles from Atlantic City, New Jersey, to Astoria, Oregon — will be June 5-August 10.)
Good! I’m still really excited about the route that we’ve picked out and all the cool things that we’ll be able to see and do along the way — from helping out with Superstorm Sandy recovery to seeing Mount Rushmore to helping with our project in Gary, Indiana. And also I think the spring ride has raised even more excitement for the riders who are getting ready and riders who are thinking about joining — we had six riders sign up this past week to join for a segment or a few segments. It’s shaping up to be a great event.