Eight weeks done and I’m totally attuned to my new world; an almost imperceptible swish of grass alerts me to avert a roadside dog attack; a remote rumble rearwards tells me “Truck Back”; and the note of bike tyres on gravel chips – mimicking crisp kindling crackling on a campfire – warns me to the puncture potential. It has all quietly become sensory mother-load.
My body’s more connected to the course conditions, too. Arms, abdomen, butt and legs – all taut, trimmed and toned (almost as when I was just 26!!) – are working strongly to propel my Giant past remarkable plains, high skies, good Badlands and lovely lakeside leas.
We regularly canter through one horse towns where the nag has long since bolted. Musty and dusty, closed-door shopfronts now devoid of customers and commerce. They appear forgotten – feel forlorn.
But one thing’s more than alive: and that’s the spirit of Christian America. It really lives in the people closest to me today – my pedaling, peloton pals, our support crews and the local parishioners who open doors, pull pork, pour juices, provide shelter and flip pre-dawn pancakes to help fuel our mission. All for free. Often for fun.
These smiling, genuine Christians are friendly, fellowship, familial sorts. Whether Methodists, Mennonites, Lutherans or Catholics, their goodness welcomes and warms me.
And I find any – in fact, all – of that to be…well, just Cool.
Like spiritual optometrists, they’ve opened my eyes anew to see how Christianity works in practice. And a quote (Googled as John 3:18) I saw pinned to a wall – when sleeping on a church floor somewhere round Week 4 – stuck in my head and said it all:
“Children, let us not love one another with words and with speech, but in deeds and in truth.”
That, I believe, was Millard Fuller’s ethos. For two months now, I’ve seen it evidenced in the cool, ecumenical mission of the Fuller Center Bike Adventure. Spiritually, I’m more tuned-in too.
With gratitude, I’ve cycled almost all the way across America.