Hmmm … So this is my first cross-country bike tour. Truly, I came at this without any real idea of what to expect. I also approached training much too casually. OK, my wife was right…
However, I am truly having a great time! For a long time, I have felt that there was nothing that I could not accomplish when I set my mind to doing it. With the Fuller Center Bike Adventure, I have genuinely challenged myself. We are told that the riding days average 75 miles. Well, I have yet to see a day that is ONLY 75 miles! In fact, I have yet to see a day that was only the advertised mileage.
I have had my backside kicked by every rider here, from the youngest, Blake Smith to the most seasoned, Tom Weber. And I am sure that it will continue to feel like it has been kicked literally for at least a week after I get home from DC. My hands will probably be partially numb for that long too. But the memories and relationships that I am building, in the middle of nowhere, crossing Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, will last far beyond my departure on a flight from Washington Dulles International Airport.
It was with great excitement that Hayley and Patrick, the day’s sweeps, and I crossed the Indiana state line into Ohio. The day was dramatically cooler than my first two riding days of the 2011 Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure, and everyone was more than ready to visit a new state! We paused long enough to take some pictures of the crossing and to stage some majestic re-enactments of exploring Nebraska, and crossing into Indiana. Growing up in Oklahoma, I knew that there wasn’t anything particularly exciting to see in Nebraska, so I sat out on that photo. Then, as we rode into the great state of Ohio, I found myself looking in anticipation to see what was around the next corner. The answer—“Oh, look! ANOTHER hill!!!”
The workday in Greenville, OH, was a wonderful chance to see beyond piles of castaway clothing, building materials and old books. It was a chance to look into the heart of a man who is passionate about helping people. John Hensley, the Executive Director of FCH Greenville, identifies with Millard Fuller’s vision of ministry through service completely enough to stand against the changes that clouded that vision at Habitat. He holds his own vision of the Greenville Fuller Center’s Re-Use Store as far more than a “thrift store”. He see’s the Re-Use Store as a hub of for a Fuller Center community that struggles to create for itself a new identity. John wants the Re-Use Store to be a place where people can gather and spend time together talking about the issues that surround them and that keep their neighborhoods from being what they want them to be.
I am finding that sense of community on this ride. I am finding it with new friends on the roads of America. I am immeasurably grateful for the chance to get to know a group of people who have given up their homes for anywhere from a week to all summer to help people who, in some cases, don’t even have a home to give up. I am also finding it in the notes and encouragement from long-standing friends and acquaintances as my online friends follow my posts and experiences as we travel across this great nation.