Tuesday, September 8, 2009

We did it! Before looking ahead, one final look back...

Seven states and 1400 miles later, our summer’s incredible “service triathlon” - cycling, speaking, and building - has come and gone, but its impact will last for years to come. We built friendships both old and new, biked through days of scorching sun and drenching rain, and spoke to audiences from as young as middle school students to as “mature” as nursing home residents.

It couldn’t have happened without all the notes of encouragement, the prayers for the journey, and donations made in our support. We truly were never riding alone. Thanks to your help, together we raised over $85,000 for housing needs from our ride, even in this difficult economic time: Thank you!

Funds from our trip will impact the lives of families in the U.S. and around the world.

Some other numbers that give a snapshot of the trip:
  • 14 riders went the whole way
  • 140 riders rode at least a mile
  • 1400 miles traveled (longer than expected…)
  • 2 flat tires on my bike (less than I expected!)
  • 7 states covered
  • 16.1 mph personal average speed
  • 25 long-distance riders
  • 84.5 hours I spent pedaling on the bike
The home we worked on in Springfield, KY
  • 12 families’ homes our team worked on (the funds we raised go to help even more families around the world)
  • 30+ media stories
  • 35,000+ views of our trip web sites
  • 650 total donors for the trip
  • $85,000+ raised for the whole team

One final exciting update: one of our riders, Erika, has committed to bringing The Fuller Center to her local area in Virginia! Oyee, Erika!

As much as we appreciate applause and support, we didn’t do it so that people would stand back and clap. The event is for getting people involved. Grab a hammer or paint brush – or start training on your bike for next year’s ride – and come join us.

You can build with a group in the U.S., overseas in places like El Salvador, Peru, Nigeria, or Armenia, or continue to offer regular financial support. You might even consider helping to start The Fuller Center in your area. Whatever you choose, let’s get started!

Ryan Iafigliola
Trip Leader

P.S. Stay tuned here and at www.FullerCenterBikeTrip.com for announcements about next year's route. We've got some creative ideas in the works...start getting excited.

The sun must set on this year's trip...but it will soon rise again in '10!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The biking might be over (for now) but the building is not!

Today we did not say “good bye”. We said I can’t wait to see you next time and good luck in the adventures of life until we meet again. 

As I look back and recap, its hard to believe that 5 weeks have escaped us already. Everyday was a blessing in itself. I’m not quite sure how to recap it all other than saying: God called, we answered God, we were blessed along the way, and we all know it was right.

The memories and bonds we created are endless. I know I personally will never forget the homeowners we helped, the family we created as a team, the everlasting friendships, and entering every state by bicycle. I know we all thought that biking the distance would be our greatest accomplishment on this trip. But, I think for all of us, it was so much more than biking. It was a step closer to ending poverty housing. Sharing about the ministry and helping first hand.

I don’t think we kept as good of stats as last years riders in who had the most flats, first, last, the amount of water or Gatorade consumed.

Melissa has the best tan lines and the first to receive two flats in one day.

Michael enjoyed getting someone lost daily (Just kidding Papa Bear, thank you for being a great route leader).

Esther was the funniest by far and the only one to get bitten by a 4 legged friend.

Erika and Eric enjoyed spending money on new tubes and are the flat leaders of the trip.

Nick had the police looking for him after he missed all the rests stops for a day, and played every piano he seen.

Dave Steer is always found riding with someone, and sharing about the FC.

Krystal is the caregiver of Millie/Sharky the shark and was our team doctor. ( I visited her for my foot hurting one day and ended up with a ice pack on my neck).

Kristina always made sure we had Sweet Sweet Tea and was the most likely to be found napping.

David Snell pedaled hard the last day and was our most honorable rider.

Emily was the only one on the trip who never got a flat tire.

I, Megan, was the only one who got a broken spoke. 3 one time and 7 two days later. I just gave up and bought a new wheel.

Thad enjoyed playing the guitar and signing worship songs for everyone. He was also our team eye doctor.

Lisa was pretty famous everywhere that had Fuller Centers because of her experience with Fuller Center El Salvador and her bike Aretha enjoyed singing to us daily.

Kyle carried his video recorder regiously for the first two weeks and never complained when he got lost.

Ryan and Esther are most likely to get lost and also most likely to get on the interstate. And Ryan earned the nickname of wrong way Ryan.

Susan was the fastest lady by far and we missed her the last 2 weeks.

Becky was the kindest person and we are Thankful she joined for 2 weeks, we missed the first 3.

Hannah Joy enjoyed taking naps after the ride and enjoyed taking pictures almost as much as Esther.

Tony was the man we wished we never had to say good bye too.

Ivan always wanted to be busy. He never took naps.

Chris was great to have for a few days. It was wonderful to hear about last year, and that he still spreads the word of good faith and works with the Fuller Center.

Tamara’s passion shared to everyone. She was the "most grateful to be here" award.

Until we meet again we will not forget each other, the bonds we created are everlasting. I know we answered god’s calling by participating in as Ryan calls it the new Triathlon: Biking, Building, and Speaking. This is just the start of our next adventure.

See everyone soon.


written by: Megan East
photos by: Esther Hyejin Chung

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

We FINALLY dipped our front tires in to the Gulf Coast!

By special guest David Snell, President of The Fuller Center for Housing

Riding in to Shell Point Beach!

"Oye!" fromt the Gulf Coast!

We made it!  Here’s to the intrepid 14 who traveled the whole 1400 actual miles from Michigan to Florida.  And here’s to the 140 riders who joined the trip for part of the way.  And here’s to your reporter, who was privileged to join the Adventure for its last 30 miles.  My assignment, apparently, was to slow things down.  Turns out my poor little bike isn’t designed for road work, so I could pedal as hard as the best of them and only go half as fast.  Who would’ve thought?

A lot of road coverage :)

This was a great event—good people doing outstanding things and having fun along the way.  The tour passed through a number of Covenant Partner communities where the riders were able to ‘rest’ by helping build and rehab houses.  Local churches and schools put them up, fed them, washed their clothes and made them feel to home.  There were no accidents, just a few missed turns and only one or two encounters with the law.  By any measure this was a success.

All the riders held hands and dashed in to Shell Point Beach, FL!

The last couple of days in Tallahassee were event filled.  The troupe arrived on Thursday—the Baptists put them up and the Catholics fed them dinner.  On Friday they worked on the home of Miss Alice Dixon and had dinner with the Presbyterians.  Saturday was the big event, the final ride to the sea.  A large group of local riders, including Chairman Brian Desloge of the County Commissioners, joined for the 45 mile trip.  It was a beautiful day for a ride—a little overcast and just cool enough to make the trip pleasant.  None of us realized that a tropical storm was brewing off shore, but it did help keep the temperature down.  After a short ride through town we joined at St. Marks Trail, an old rail bed that’s been converted into a bike trail, and rode it for 15 miles—a beautiful trip through live oak woods dripping with Spanish moss.  We got on the highway for the last 15 miles, a quiet country road without a lot of traffic. 

We dipped our front tires in to the Gulf Coast!

Our destination was Shell Point Beach, and all of the sudden there it was, with the Gulf of Mexico spread out before us like it went on forever.  The first order of business was to get to the shore and dip the front wheels of the bikes into the water—completing the ritual that began when the rear wheels were dipped in Lake Michigan. 

Riders received a personalized trophy!

It was a bittersweet time for the riders who, after five weeks of close living, had formed themselves into a tribe.  The long haul was over, but so too was their time together.  They had a little time left—we all got together for dinner at the Barton’s on Saturday night and then spread out to visit as many churches as possible on Sunday.  Sunday lunch was at a real, sit-down restaurant—a treat for the weary travelers—and then it was time to say goodbye.

Fuller Center's President David Snell presented Trip Leader Ryan Iafigiola with a trophy! 

How do you thank people who share so freely of their time, their energy, their good spirits to spread the word about the Fuller Center and to help families along their way to have a better place to live?  It’s hard to find the words, but these folks deserve our gratitude.  They are true partners in our effort to make decent housing a reality for all.  So thank you, Adventurers.  May your memories of this trip bring smiles to your hearts for years to come.

written by: Fuller Center for Housing President David Snell

photos by: Esther Hyejin Chung 

Friday, August 14, 2009

8th Build Day in Tallahassee, FL!

Nick and Emily working hard on Miss Alice's home.

This morning brought us another early start with a hearty breakfast donated by the local Fuller Center affiliate. Thank you for such a kind wake up. We went straight to the work site and were greeted by a few great supervisors, Steve, John, Jim, Mike, and Tom. They took great care of us all day, and provided us an extremely organized work site. We were met by the homeowner (Miss Alice as we came to know her by), who was a sweet woman in need of desperate home repair.

Mike did an awesome job painting!

 Miss Alice lived in her home for many years, but had a turn of bad luck this past year when a tree fell through her roof. She then suffered a stroke and her home remained in its dire condition. The Fuller Center was contacted and quickly arrived with help. Our job for the day was painting the home as well as combating gigantic spiders. Fortunately we are all still intact and ready for our last ride tomorrow. Lunch was delivered to the site and was greatly appreciated (thanks so much!). The day ended with a few pictures and all smiles. Miss Alice seemed very pleased with her home makeover and was generous with hugs and kisses for all involved. 

David Snell, President of Fuller Center, had dinner with us and will be joining us for the ride tomorrow!

We were all ecstatic over a few hours of rest and relaxation after the morning’s work. Well rested, we piled into the van once again and headed to dinner provided by the Episcopal Church. Thank you for a great meal, and thanks to the Faith Presbyterian Church for having us. Upon our arrival back at the church, new riders joined us in preparation for our last ride. After some late night shenanigans, we headed to sleep. Thanks for reading! 

Fuller Center Tallahassee deserves a loud "Oye!" :)
written by: Lisa Corsi

photos by: Esther Hyejin Chung

Thursday, August 13, 2009

We have FINALLY arrived to Tallahassee, FL!

"Oye!" from FL!!!
Thursday was a great day of riding for me personally, as well as the other riders. Ryan says it was because of the tailwind. I thought it was because I was getting stronger, but now that I think about it, I realize I’ve asked plenty of people to pray for our safety and ENDURANCE. So, I’m sure we rode strong for 51 miles because God was answering prayers.

The Biggins made us feel extra welcomed :)
We started from the Chamber of Commerce office in Pelham, Georgia. It was an overcast day which made the weather cooler than Wednesday. There were lots of small hills along the way. Since I’m from Louisiana, those baby hills might as well be mountains. I huffed and puffed on the uphills while Becky and Ryan flew by me, then I shifted into my downhill mojo and passed them up at up to 31mph. FUN!!!! My riding partner, Dave Steere from Panama City, and I averaged 17 mph for the day. Not too bad for the senior most riders of the group!
Erin and Megs
When we got to the Florida state line, we were greeted with enthusiastic cheers of “Oye’e” from the Biggins family. Pat Biggins serves with the Tallahassee Fuller Center and he and wife Donna have 6 of the most beautiful blonde and red-headed children. They were all wearing orange – our theme color – and they were waving homemade welcome posters. They even had fresh oranges for us to eat as we stopped to pose under the “Welcome to Florida” sign – the 7th state in our long journey. 

We proceeded to First Baptist Church of Bradfordville where we are sleeping on the floor of their Sunday School rooms for 3 nights. Thank you FBCB for your graciousness! We had supper with the Tallahassee Board and members of Good Shepherd Catholic Church. Thank you to the Biggins family for arranging supper and entertainment for our group! Katelyn, Meghan, Dan, Connor, Erin and Tanner, you are delightful!
Erin, Megs, Erika and Tanner playing at the church :)

We must send a shout-out to Higher Ground Bicycle Company. Several riders had to stop there to look for boxes in which to ship their bikes home . The owners read our t-shirt slogan, which is “Building on Higher Ground”. They were so impressed with our mission and slogan that they gave us some much needed goodies. Thank you Higher Ground! Some of you have asked how I make it through the long days of riding. I will leave you with my mantra of the week. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.
written by: Tamara Danel
photos by: Esther Hyejin Chung 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We have arrived in Pelham, GA!

Millard Fuller's hanker chief is tied around each of our riders :) 

Your blogger today is the old man of the group.  Today we rode about 57 miles to the little town of Pelham, GA.  You might wonder why we chose this town to stop – several folks in Pelham have expressed an interest in starting up a new Covenant Partner with The Fuller Center for Housing.   So we thought we would interact with them and perhaps share a little of the excitement that is building around our Bike Adventure.  Perhaps a news article or one of the many folks we talk to might be encouraged to add their time and talent, and perhaps even some of their cash to help get this important project off the ground.

One of the most visible persons who helped roll out the welcome mat for us in Pelham is Billy Davis.  Mr Davis is a city commissioner and a dedicated Christian.  It just so happens that I have a personal connection with Billy because, like me, is a retired navy man.  In his case, he was a Master Chief Petty Officer and for those of you who aren’t familiar with military lingo, that’s just as high as you can go as an enlisted man in the Navy.  I learned years ago that the one shipmate you could depend on in every crew was the Master Chief.  And now, this Master Chief has made it clear that he depends on Jesus – just the perfect person to help carry on His work with a new Affiliate Partner of the Fuller Center.

During our trip, We have had the most incredible experience and you’re about to hear about some of the things that have happened from the perspective of one of newest members.

Our group has grown very close as you might imagine but the depth of their affection for each other and the level of dedication and commitment is really hard to describe.   I’m particularly enjoying the fact that most of our group is less than 25 and yet they have already learned the importance of personal commitment.  It’s a spirited group and a funny group . . . just the right kind of personalities to carry on with our mission which is to bring attention to the Fuller Center for Housing and at the same time to raise funds for this wonderful ministry.

Happy Birthday Ryan!

Today we celebrated a birthday with our fearless leader, Ryan Iagfigliola.  What a fun time for all of us.  He has done a superb job of arranging the myriad of details associated with all of our travels.  Many happy returns, Ryan.

No mishaps today, and even the oldest of us made it to the destination ready for another long ride tomorrow.  Only two more legs to this journey remain.  Soon we will be departing in many different directions but I’m quite sure that many of us have made life long friends and will stay in touch for many years.

written by: Dave Steere

photos by: Esther Hyejin Chung

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We have arrived in Warwick, GA!

Greetings fellow bi-peds!

GA Senator, County Commissioners, the Mayor, Linda Fuller and the riders!

Sharkie here with an update from the road.  For the past few days, The Fuller Center for Housing Cyclists (and me) have been camping out in Americus, GA.  The Fuller Center home base has kept us quite busy...as I’m sure you’ve read.  It seems at every turn there was a new group of faces cheering us on!  This morning started with an exceptionally moving devotional, lead by Fuller Center for Housing Co-founder Linda Fuller.  She correlated personal experiences with Clarence Jordan teachings to provide our inspirational message for the day.  Following the devotional, we were visited by the mayor of Americus, two county commissioners, and a Georgia State Senator.  Mrs. Fuller even asked about my whereabouts, knowing that I’ve been losing a lot of air since a hard ride into Atlanta.  My view from inside the cycling bag is not quite as picturesque, but at least I remain a part of the action!  Between a doctor, an engineer, a navy officer, and a few mathematicians...I hope to be successfully patched up soon!

Linda Fuller led the devotion 

After an amazing send off (from what felt like home) the group rode off to Lake Blackshear.  Linda Fuller provided us a little leading escort out of town.  The road was pretty flat and smooth, we maintained a good pace riding into the Memorial Park on the lake.  Several riders were willing to take a dip in the lake, but were a little discouraged by the “Unauthorized swimming, alligators present” signs.  Instead, we were escorted to the “blue hole” by Mr. Frank Lott to take a dip.  Nick, Eric, and Thad climbed a super tall tree to then jump into a particularly deep area of the lake.  We were assured by locals that alligators were “not usually around”.  I would have protected the group as best as I could if any other toothed creature decided to cause trouble.  What’s a few more holes anyhow?  Christina, Krystal, Becky, Michael, Lisa, Kyle, Erica, Ryan, Dave, Emily...and even Esther jumped from the platform or the rope swing into the refreshing nook of the lake.  Everyone dried off with a scenic ride to Warwick United Methodist Church, which Tamara and others noticed was a little longer than 10 miles away.  Members of the church provided us a warm welcome, offering us a nice place to stay and lunch.  Still sweaty from the ride, yet full from the lunch, we were met by a reporter from the local paper near Warwick.  I think she wasn’t too interested in photographing a shark covered in patches and duct tape...but everyone else represented the Fuller Center well!

The Fuller Center office was filled with kind hearted politicians who wished us the best :)

Our adventure continued as the group spent some time playing in the pool of another Warwick United Methodist Church member.  The boys were getting wild, throwing each other off of the dock into the lake.  Emily took the kayak out for a spin, towing Erica, Megs, and Esther.  Krystal pretended to be me in an attempt to rock the boat a little, literally.  We then took a leisure boat ride to the home of Lisa, Greg, and Lindsey for showers and dinner.  A few riders got a massage from a professional neuromuscular therapist, Lindsey.  The evening was filled with such treats, and no alligator spotting!  I suppose my duct tape scars are intimidating after all.

Ryan was a bit tired during the boat ride

Megs watching the dam from the boat

written by: Krystal Goodwin

photos by: Esther Hyejin Chung