Before coming on this ride I had put all of 24 miles on a bike outdoors. I was hardly prepared for the adventure that awaited me on the Natchez Trace. I looked forward to the week long ride with equal parts of excitement and sheer terror. It didn’t help that I missed most of orientation and introductions due to a delayed flight coming into Nashville. When I finally arrived at the first church, I was overwhelmed by all the new faces, bikes, and gear that lay everywhere. However, you couldn’t help but feel the buzz of excitement amongst the riders who had just come off of the first practice ride through Nashville. I quickly made introductions with new friends and began to take in my surroundings. Riders of all ages (14-85), from all across the country, all coming together with one common goal, to ride and to make an impact.
Our first full day of riding was spent taking on 47 miles of the trail. It was a beautiful sunny day with only one word to describe it- hills. Coming from nice flat Ohio, this was a totally new experience for me. There were times I wanted to get off my bike and walk up a particularly challenging hill. Thanks to many encouraging riders (who also told great stories), like, Cheryl and Diane, I just kept peddling. Today we braved it through the pouring down rain, riding for hours through thunderstorms. It was a bad enough storm that it even got a name! Conveniently, it cleared up about twenty minutes after we arrived at our next location in Collinwood, TN.
I can’t remember the last time I was that sore and tired, but I quickly learned I was in good company. The avid riders who have devoted weeks of their lives to biking cross country also had tired limbs and sore butts. It felt great knowing that even though we all went at different paces, we all made the same journey together and could share a wonderful sense of accomplishment. You don’t have bonding experiences like that every day.
Each day of this ride you continue to make new friends and grow relationships. I can’t say enough great things about the group that has come together to take on this adventure. They are kind and helpful. They are supportive, encouraging, and purpose-driven. I came on this adventure to raise awareness for the Fuller Center and make a difference in a family’s life by working on a build project. I didn’t realize how much the trip would make a difference in me. Whether it’s helping you change a flat tire on your bike, or sharing a testimony that gives you a new perspective on life, this group is making as much of an impact on one another as they are for the families we are trying to help.
Even if you’re not a bike enthusiast, or if the idea of biking 400 miles puts the fear of God in you (as it did me), from one newbie to another, it’s worth the ride. Even when it’s pouring down rain and you still have 10 miles to go until the next rest stop, I promise you won’t regret it.
By: Kim Elmore