Monday, June 30, 2008

Climbing 11% Grades to Avoid Highway Riding

It was another day of putting the "adventure" into Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure. One thunderstorm, four flat tires and 12 hours later, we rolled into Taos from Santa Fe. Tony's trip computer says he only did 6.5 hours of riding, which means our frequent stops and route-planning delays really added up.

Today was our first official day of cool weather riding. Many had their arm and leg warmers on for the 6 am departure from 7,000 ft of elevation. We struck out intending to cycle straight up US-84, but all hopes for an accessible frontage road were snuffed out by about mile 20. The team headed for the mountains, and by mile 32 had climbed several 10-11% grade hills on what is locally known as the "High Road." To us, we just knew it as a confusing conglomeration of two-lane roads that seemed to ascend into eternity.

Adding to the day's already strenuous task was an untimely thunderstorm that held us up at a small-town gas station for an hour and rain that slowed the riders down as they pressed on from there.

As if such maladies weren't enough, the altitude made breathing more laborious, and the en-route alterations to the roads we were to take to Taos meant we never quite knew how far we still had to ride.

But the team remains strong, especially after a hearty New Mex-Mex dinner at a local favorite: Guadalajara's. Heavy rain could not douse these spirits. Tomorrow we will press on to Alamosa and a new state. Colorado, Ho!

Chris sizes up yet another climb.

Two riders press on.

We eventually had to wait out part of this storm.

Frontage roads on the wrong side of the highway always seem strange.

For as challenging as the ride was, it was certainly beautiful.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Day 14: On the Road Again

After a much needed rest day, our group rode out of Albuquerque toward the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and into Santa Fe today. Roughly 70 miles and about 4,000 feet of climbing reminded us all that one day's rest does not a fresh set of legs make.

While shopping at Fat Tire Cycles yesterday (a great bike shop, by the way), I got to know Adam, who has qualified for the Race Across America and is seriously thinking about joining us in Colorado Springs for the rest of the trip! He had planned to lead us out of town today but a last minute "pet emergency" sidelined his ride. His wanderlust reached a fever pitch when I described our ride, so who knows, we may have a new rider soon.

Speaking of new riders, Josh joined the group last night and will be with us for the rest of the ride. Philly Represent! He has already fit in with our group and will be a welcome addition to our quirky brand of road humor.

We are sleeping on the floor of the Zia United Methodist Church here in Santa Fe, having found showers at the nearby Rec Center. Nate and Katherine served up a spendid homemade beef stroganoff dinner, complete with baked potatoes (Thanks, Aaron!) and spinach salad. We're now discussing the weather outlook for tomorrow, as we had threatening skies today with distant thunder all around. Sounds like typical mountain weather to me!

Day 13? Day 12.1? Does it get a number if we don't bike?

Today was a day off, so no blog entry. We slept in and did nothing...

... NOT!

It seems as though just biking 80 or 90 miles would have been a lot easier, or at least simpler.

We did get to sleep in till 8am. Having completely taken over household of Lisa Verploegh and her son and daughter - computers plugged in everywhere, the back yard full of bikes and drying laundry, bikes being worked on in the driveway - we first set about our "group chores" suggested (no, that's not the right word) by Ryan. I'm kidding, of course. Actually, it's amazing to see how well we all get along and everyone pitches in to do "their" chores or whatever needs doing. Suffice it to say that the vehicle is now washed and sporting 2 new rear tires and shocks, the trailer has been emptied, inventoried and restocked, the trailer support thingy has been repaired, and we are ready to roll on Sunday (well, at least the trailer is).

Meanwhile, bikes have been cleaned and lubed, handle bars retaped, cables adjusted, broken pedals replaced (that would be mine), and all manner of power bars, mirrors, helmets and chamois butter (if you don't know what that is, don't ask) purchased in multiple trips to the local bike shop. We made such an impression on one bike shop guy that he volunteered to lead us out of the city tomorrow morning. (More on that from Chris tomorrow.)

Somewhere in the midst of all that we had lunch courtesy of Lisa's grill and Doug's expert grilling of burgers and delicious veggies.

Later on we had another passing of the wheel. Nicole has returned to Suprise, AZ and Josh has flown in from Philadelphia. He will be with us all the way to Tybee Island.

Katherine's dad and fiance have left and it's time for bed. 5:30 wake up for church at 7:30 and on the uphill road to Santa Fe by 9:30. Mostly straight up SR 14, but partly Rte 66 before that. Hope that's uneventful.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Send the riders mail!

When you're on the road, there's nothing better than real mail!  Here's your chance to send some to the riders.  We will be arriving in Colorado Springs on July 3rd.  You can send it to:

Rider's name OR "Fuller Center bikers"
c/o Fuller Center
1520 N. Union Blvd. #204
Colorado Springs, CO 80909

Thanks to everyone for your enduring support!


Your kicks, June 27th

We got our kicks today, on old route 66. Our second full day in New Mexico was quite an adventure. Let me just say, that if you've never been through the western half of the state, you are missing out.
It truely is big sky country. Not only is the scenery beautiful, but mother nature was on our side. We stepped out the doors a little after 7:00, and were on our way.
Our first route for the day lead us straight down the old, famouse Route 66.

Chris on his way to Albuquerque.

The road once sung about, has become the road less traveled, renamed, it now acts as a frontage road for the new and improved I40. Even so, it still shows a lot of character; character we witnessed in a blur.

Today finally delivered the tail wind that has been promised since the beginning of this trip. For the first 40 miles of this ride, the wind at our backs, we raced along at an easy 17-20 miles per hour on the flats. Racing for the last slice of yesterday's pizza, Chris and Aaron reached 40 mph on a flat stretch of road.

Speeding along the old road, we buzzed by abandoned hotels, gas stations, and towns which are the silent reminders of the bustle this road must once have witnessed. We biked beside the remains of old lava flows and the sink holes left by collaping lava tubes. These were sights once seen by many traveling on the old route, which is now almost empty of traffic. Us nine riders tried to repopulate it again, if only for a little while. In under 2 hours we reached our 40 mile break point.

As we waited for some of the other group members, the long term effects of entertainment depravation made themselves aparent. A corn chip was dropped on the ground, soon a single ant made the discovery, and for 20 minutes, we watched and cheered as the ant tried to move the massive weight. Maybe we have been in the hot desert too long.

At mile 40 we pressed on, still on route 66. The kicks were delivered, though not the ones promised by Bobby Troup, Nat King Cole, or the Roling Stones. The 'mother road' became a pot holed, and graveley slog for the next 8 miles. In the Tour'de'France, they get to trade out different bikes for different parts of the course. I think if we had that choice, we all would have traded in for a mountain bike along that stretch. Our poor road bikes, it now seems like part of our day off tomorrow will be putting them back together.

Finally we reach paved road again, but that is when we hit another snag. Our directions say, follow Route 66 until we reach central road, (exit 149 on I40) but the sight in front of us proves this is impossible.
Old route 66 becomes an abandoned derelict road, overgrown and turned into a cattle pasture.

Route 66 won't take us to exit 149. Our group faces a delima, brave the interstate or travel an extra 60 miles, all the way south to Los Lunas.

Which way to Albuquerque?

Our groups makes thier helpful suggestions about where to go from here.

We definitely don't want to make a worng choice now. If nothing else, Buggs Bunny has demonstrated that a wrong turn around Albuqueque can lead to disaterous run ins with hunters, hairballs and martians.

Finally a compromise is made, and we are shuttled down the road to exit 140 where we can pick up Route 66. We might be 10 miles short of crossing the country now on bikes alone, but no one was flattened on I40. And since Grants is 5 miles we had to backtrack to the west, it all works out.

From exit 140, we are only 20 miles away from the city, and we bike it fast. Soon enough we are in the city, doddging traffic, and making our way to the house of another generous person. Someone willing to take in 10 strangers for two days. Katherine's dad and fiance Tom are waiting for us and we finally get to meet new people we've already heard something about. Hopefully we aren't too offensive after two days on a bike with only a hose shower between.

With that, we are about 880 miles into our cross country journey, a rest day tomorrow before we move on to Santa Fe and our hardest biking week. Maybe it's not too late to buy tow cables we can latch on to the trailer. Time to start resting up for those up hills.

The Ice was well recieved,

Nathan Landrum

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Showering In Grants

Here is a funny video of Chris and Doug!

Quemado to Grants (I have no idea what day # this is!)

Today's route unrolled the best scenery of the Southwest. Our 86 mile ride took us through Malpais (bad country) National monument where breathtaking views of lava rock and wide open space awaited around every turn. With each of us still feeling a little sore, we rode together as a group at a moderate pace soaking in the vistas. Some highlights for the day included a fly-over by two F-16s and numerous beautiful photo opportunities at the magnificent "The Narrows" cliffs. Enjoying our riding time together as a group, this is by far the best day of riding. Since the experience is all somewhat a blur in my mind, I will try and post some additional photos to do the talking for me. Enjoy!


The Narrows

Nicole and Dani

La Ventana National Monument

Dani and Katherine celebrating today's ride!

Cattle and a bluff

A gorgeous sunset in Quemado!

Big sky country

Riding as a group

Would Ansel Adams be jealous?

Ryan and Katherine planning a detour over the mountain.

Quemado- Day Ten

Tony in New Mexico!                                             
Ryan at the boarder 

So, today was a day of firsts!  Our first ninety-five mile ride, our first miles in New Mexico, and our first encounter with rain.  The day started off well with beautiful views and great weather; not to mention  some "fun" rolling hills.  Unfortunately, the closer we got to New Mexico the weather became more ominous.  Now, I can only speak for myself but from about mile forty to sixty were some of the worse miles we have completed on the trip so far.   Not only were there a decent amount of uphills but there was a strong (slightly frightening) crosswind that was blowing, at least me, into the road!  Then as it began to drizzle I experienced some more firsts...I ran into some tumble weed!  Shortly thereafter I experienced my first flat on the trip so far and struggled to fix it for about eight minutes until Tony the Tiger came along and saved me!  Things picked up at mile sixty-three when we crossed the border posed for some pictures and continued on to The First Baptist Church:  Where we were fed like kings and went to sleep early.  

The quote of the day occurred during dinner: 

"I think I will go back up for seconds" -Tony
"I'll draft you"-Aaron 


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Great Escape

Our ride out of Scottsdale (Phoenix) was one of the hardest of the trip so far, but also one of the most memorable. Our group was joined at 5:00 am by 6 cyclists from our wonderful host church, Valley Presbyterian, whose members had taken us in as strangers and treated us like kings all the previous day and night. You would not believe how much food some of our hosts, Polly and Bob, cooked for us, and we are so grateful.

Led by this large church's dynamic pastor and longtime friend of Millard Fuller's, Woody Garvin, 3 of those 6 local riders not only biked the entire distance, they led the pack! They were incredible, and it was an honor to ride with (behind) them. In addition, David Loar, who once road 1,000 miles to raise money for the Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts, joined us along with his wife, Kristen Barner, who helped with rider support. Since I road with David for a while, I got the benefits of the food stops every three miles; it was awesome. With treatment like that I think I may become the first person to gain weight while climbing mountains!

And now finally, after days of burning in the scorching desert, we escaped. It took 7,500 feet of climbing over about 80 miles, but we did it. Don't ask me how Moses led the Israelites in the desert for 40 years, for us four days in the desert was plenty. Now, instead of scrubs and small bushes, we see evergreens and lush forests. We actually look at the 95 degree temperatures around us and think of it as a day that's "not too hot." With the deserts and some mountains behind us, we live to bike another day...

And best of all, the local riders today helped raise an additional $1,000 for our ride. Plus with the contacts we made or renewed and the two reporters who came out to cover our ride, we think it may have significantly helped to stir the pot for starting The Fuller Center in Phoenix as well as Payson (our finishing point today).

Thank you to everyone for continuing to post comments of support, and for your continued prayers for God's blessings on this trip as well as our safety. Thanks to you, we don't feel like we are riding alone as we continue onward from one victory to another!

In Christ's service,


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ode To The Fuller Center Bike Adventure

Today we continued thru Arizona
with nary a grunt or a moana
87 miles from Payson to How Low
Some of us fast, some of us slow

The first 40 miles were quite gnarly
the next 47 we flew like a Harley
We had the wind at our back
and we still miss young Zach

The weather it was cool in the morning
until the sun came out with its warming
We rode on with chapped limbs
what we need is lots of "Desatin"

We rest, we sleep, we eat and we ride
Knowing that the Dude,  He abides
and the riders cycle on and are heard to say
"Godspeed to all and a Fuller Center Oyee!"



The view leaving Payson, AZ

Aaron at the top of a 7700 foot climb!

Cruising with Chris...

View from Mogollon Rim

Katherine catching some "ZZZZ's"

Pastor Woody getting ready to leave us in the dust!!!

Some rock formations from this area were used as models for Disney's Thunder Mountain.

Nathan capturing some priceless photos.


One of the many national forests we passed through.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Clean Bike is a Happy Bike

On the seventh day, He rested. According to my schedule, we were supposed to do the same, but my alarm went off at 4 am for the seventh morning in a row. We rose to hit the road for a short, 30 mile jaunt to Scottsdale, AZ. The Phoenix heat hit us early, and the rough road was unkind to our chaffed nether regions. Dani and I cycled together for the last 15 miles and spent about half of it lamenting our rubbed-raw skin. But the ride will be well worth it tomorrow, when we face a tough climb shortened by 30 miles. (So far, there is no consensus to how long tomorrow's route will be.) 

Despite chafing, chapping and peeling, the blessings continue to be conferred upon us. We would like to welcome Nicole, our new rider, who will be pedaling with us to Albuquerque, NM. Nicole is a senior architecture student at Notre Dame, and graciously let us stay in her home and swim in her pool. Her mother graciously let us eat every scrap of food in their kitchen. Warning: if the team shows up, we very well may eat you out of house and home. Our athlete appetites have revved up!

We are housed tonight in the tricked-out basement at Valley Presbyterian in Scottsdale playing air hockey and ping pong. We arrived at 8:30 this morning to attend a service and make appearances at three others. This is a tremendously exciting stop, because the pastor and several other church members will be joining us tomorrow for the ride up to Payson. The support of others - in any fashion - has been the greatest blessing of this trip so far, and we all would like to send a tremendous thanks to those who fed us lunch and dinner, and donated to the Fuller Center today. And many thanks for letting us finish off your donuts!

It's technically still our off-day, so several of us gave our bikes a little TLC. It's amazing how much grease can build up in just one week of constant riding. We lubed chains, wiped frames and sanded brake pads, but I don't know how much we will need them tomorrow. The ride looks to be one of our hardest (according to the countless parishioners that cringed when we told them we are headed to Payson). Alas, it is my scheduled day to drive to sag wagon. 

Gosh ... darn.

- Katherine

Lights. Camera. Action.

Hey everyone! I hope you're enjoying your "day off" a.k.a. 30 mile ride to Scottsdale, AZ. Last time I saw you all it looked like you were having a great time at Nicole's pool after the nearly 90 mile ride from Salome to Surprise. 

Here's a little video montage that I pieced together for the riders & all of our fans to enjoy:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

More for your reading list

Howdy, loyal Fuller Center fans:

Katherine here. It's not my turn to write yet, but I'd like to sneak in a plug for my website where I am posting a bunch of pictures from the trip and writing my own blog. Eventually, I hope to start posting podcasts of each cross-country rider's story of why they gave up their lives for two months to pedal coast to coast. (Think "This American Life.") Check it out here: XCountry Bike Stories

Don't forget to tell your friends about the Fuller Center for Housing and help us raise $100,000! Thanks again for keeping up with us.


Katherine Stump, San Antonio


A note on the photos, we are combining the photos from many different riders, so they may not be in chronological order. Sorry.

Our quaint lodgings in Salome!

The perks of getting up at 4:00 a.m.

I think they mean a different sort of biker.

Homemade lasagna in Salome, mmmmm...

A much needed rest at Nicole's house in Surprise. Who needs a bathing suit, biking shorts are fine!

Sunset over the desert.

Tony getting creative with his camera.

Katherine's dad asks, "How are the public schools in Hope, AZ?"

Jack Wolters sharing some of his life lessons. Also our gracious fellow lodger, Luke chatting with Zach.

Welcome to the desert!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day Five

Our group rolled into Salame, AZ today after a relatively short 56 miles. Another early start offered a break from the heat, at least until 9 AM or so, when things began to warm up in earnest. Then again, as we took a break in the shade of the trailer, Aaron noted that it was 97 degrees. I thought it was quite comfortable, proving that we've been in the desert long enough to become a part of it.
A tailwind helped the group keep a decent average, reinforcing the reason for our west to east heading. We also saw four other cyclists, one grandfather and grandson doing a Phoenix to Seattle pedal and a couple of fully loaded tourers riding San Diego to Boston raising money for microfinancing in Nicaragua. Always nice to see kindred spirits.
Once we reached town (all three blocks of it), we were welcomed by Jack Walter and Marlena, who had arranged our stay at the lovely Westward Motel, which has a nice southwest B&B feel to it. 
Jack has been involved with Habitat since its inception back in 1980, and has traveled the world building homes. He participated in the long distance walks that marked Habitat's anniversary years, and also founded the RV group now called the Care-a-Vanners.
A great lasagna dinner this evening was provided by the Vi-Sa-Wen Women's Club, where Jack generously donated $1,000 to the ride, along with gifts for all riders.
As in life, it's all about the people we meet along the way. Jack is a great example of this. In his words, the Fuller Center is not building houses, it's building lives. As the sun sets and the heat retreats into the shadows, tired legs find rest and our hearts are warmed by Jack's stories.

Day 4 California here we... GO!

One down, ten to go! At exactly 6am Thursday we crossed the Colorado River from Blythe, California to Ehrenberg, Arizona. We all rode today, except Doug, who took another turn driving the van. The first riders arrived in Parker, AZ by 9:30 am! (It was, after all, a relatively short day – only 50 miles – and we all finished before the temperature hit 110.) The second wave of riders stuck together, singing songs and enjoying the scenery, getting to Parker around 10:30.

The only downside was that we left not knowing exactly where in Parker we would be spending the night. By the time we reached the first 20-mile rest stop we learned that Ryan had performed (or, perhaps more appropriately, been the recipient of) a “miracle.” Pastor Jose Garcia of the Parker Apostolic Church was waiting for us with open arms and much more – showers at Brother Rafael and Sister Patti’s home, a tour of Parker Dam which included lunch and photo ops of wild burros, and dinner back at Rafael and Patti’s house.

Between lunch and dinner we had time for chores, blog writing, and a precious nap. After dinner most of us attended a rousing Apostolic church service – we had CHURCH!

Tomorrow we’ll be up at 4 am and do it all again. Aren’t you jealous?


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Day 3

Somewhere on the high seas, a ship is being blown gently by the breeze, towards adventure. The captain turns to his crew and says. “Beep! Beeeeeeep!!!!” And with that the third day of the Fuller Center Bike Trip is off. There is no need to shrug off the covers, (the night was too hot for them in the first place) and bleary eyed I make my way down stairs….
To be greeted by our host, from Brawly California. Awake before even we crazed cyclists, she had breakfast on the table while I was still trying to figure out why I had an old pirate’s ditty in my head.
“Oh the places you go!” It’s one of my favorite Dr Seuss books. What should follow that is; “Oh the people you’ll meet.” Jesus has been quoted several times on this trip, with the saying, “It is better to give then it is to receive.” Each of our hosts has demonstrated a gracious capacity for giving that must be blessed!
As to the riding… we biked through the desert, more desert and even some sand dunes! Up hills, down hills, up more hills, down more hills, 20 miles between stops and I am drinking at least a bottle and a half of water in between.
The heat has us all beat. We really would be going faster, but that 104 degree makes us keep our speed down. It’s a good excuse!
I shouldn’t complain. It’s cool tonight, only 101 degrees. We might still have ice in the coolers tomorrow, we bought 9 bags. Speaking of night, it is dark now and that should herald sleep, since we are up before dawn. Thus I will leave it here for the night. It is time to go upstairs and sleep on top of my sleeping bag.
221 miles down. Tomorrow: 50 or so miles tomorrow to Arizona.
Send Ice


Kelsey, followed by Dani, Katherine, Zach and Tony (the "Back Pack")

BUSTED! Pulled over by the Border Patrol. 

More desert! Biggest sandbox ever.

Dani and Katherine cooling off in the truck

A set of wheels we might like to trade ours in for...

Capturing the mood of waking up at 4 am (Katherine and Nathan)

Chris surveys the landscape