Thursday, July 31, 2008

One last mail drop

I wanted to remind everyone that we will have one last opportunity for a mail drop at The Fuller Center's headquarters in Americus. We are all eagerly anticipating arriving "home" in Americus on Saturday and will depart from there on Tuesday early morning. Please ensure that mail arrives by Monday.

Send it to:

The Fuller Center for Housing
Attn: [Rider's name]
701 S. Martin Luther King Blvd.
Americus, GA 31719


More to follow

On the first day of cycling I had to replace my front de-e-raileur cable.

On the second day of cycling I had to replace 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

On the third day of cycling I had to replace 3 Kenda tires, 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

On the fourth day of cycling I had to replace 4 brake pad inserts, 3 Kenda tires, 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

On the fifth day of cycling I had to replace 5 honey bears, 4 brake pad inserts, 3 Kenda tires, 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The best Homecoming ever!

It took Ryan and me almost three days to drive to San Diego from my home here in the Chattahoochee Valley, and today we all rode in to a great welcome from all the local Fuller Center supporters. It's really hard to capture all the emotions in one post, and I wish all the riders could have the chance to "ride home". Suffice it to say this has been a group effort from Day One. We could not have done this without the tremendous emotional, spiritual and physical support of ALL our fellow riders. That to me signifies what the Fuller Center is all about. Taking on a seemingly insurmountable task like providing affordable housing for all and helping each other to realize that goal through sharing the workload and lifting each other up along the way.
Our day started in Auburn, AL, where we were joined by several new riders, some for the day, some for the rest of the trip! Team Merchant joined us from St Petersburg, FL and will ride part of each day with us until the coast, where they will continue until they reach their goal of 800 miles. Local riders Carter Brown, West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson, Craig from Charter Bank and Auburn Student Government President Lauren Hayes all rode the 30 miles into the Valley, where we were joined by more locals for the final three miles. After riding past the first Fuller Center homes built on 6th St in Lanett, AL, we were met by more supporters and my family for hugs all around. The local media was present (newspaper and television) to help promote the ride and the Fuller Center cause.
Thanks to host families, all riders will enjoy beds for the next two nights. Lynda Spofford treated the group to a great lasagne feast, and afterwards, we all went bowling at Valley Lanes. Owner James Caldwell gave us a discount and even had news cameras show up to document the event.
Finally, a word of thanks to Golden's Bike Shop and owner Bill Golden, who fixed Ryan's bike at no charge! Oyee, Bill!
It's too late and I'm too tired to come up with any pithy comments. My hope is that this ride will inspire others to take action in their communities. The Fuller Center has already made a difference here in the Valley (15 homes and 2 rehabs toward a goal of 500) and the enthusiasm is contagious. Just get near us and we'll be glad to infect you, too! 


Josh and Lauren (Student body president at Auburn)



Tony and his wife Mary in their motorhome

Katherine and the amazing chef Jerry at Auburn United Methodist

New riders Caleb and Zach

Morning devotions

State themed socks are in!!

Chris happy to be with his family

More to follow

On the first day of cycling I had to replace my front de-e-raileur cable.

On the second day of cycling I had to replace 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

On the third day of cycling I had to replace 3 Kenda tires, 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

On the fourth day of cycling I had to replace 4 brake pad inserts*, 3 Kenda tires, 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

*actually it's only 2 brake pad inserts, but then again I'm now up to 4 Kenda tires - poetic license

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Homecoming, of sorts.

(Warning: excessive bikinig should only be done with a helmet, and still may cause sore legs, fatigue, maniacle desire for showers, a reduction to barbarinism, Doug and Josh syndrom, and a pathalogical desire to point out road hazards to friends, family and fellow drivers.)

(this blog is slightly less dangerous)

It is nice to have the blog on a biking day. It gives you something to think about on the road, for miles you can think of witty things to say, forget them, and then try recalling them again. It's a good way to pass the time. Unfortunately, today I haven't done anything of the sort, thus this entry comes kind of on the fly.

First I would like to take care of some unfinished business. Jessica from Linden Alabama, below is a picture of our group and below the welcome sign of the Forrest Hill Baptist Church.

Tomorrow; we bike to Lenette, Alabama, and thus enter 'The Valley," and Chris' stomping grounds. But you'll hear more about that then. First I wanted to get in my speill. Though on the trailer I placed a star in Kentucky, signifying that it is my home, I have lived many places, bouncing around more times then a rubber ball in a concrette factory.

(that last analogy is an example that where last time I had the blog it was funny, this time, maybe not so much. I'm just not feeling funny today, I lost too many times at ping pong.)

The point is; today we left Montgomery and biked into Auburn, and thus into one of my very first stomping grounds. This is the place where my love of rocks was first apparent, as I threw thousands into a lake. In case you need more explaination; My mother atteneded AU for Veterinary School, and I was just old enough to tag along. So though my only memories are of a mean preschool teacher, a pear tree (I don't like pears) and of a dairy farm where I helped feed calves, Auburn Alabama is one of the places that a long time ago I would have called home.

Quoting my mother, "It's interesting sometimes; the circles we make in our lives." And reading Katherine's Journal from yesterday it is almost apropriate. Mine is one of a few little symbolic homecomings before we bike to Tybee Island and all go home 'for real.' Which, by the way I am not sure we are all going to do.

(send your donations now to support
The Fuller Center Inaugural Bike Trip II:
the return to La Jolla)

I won't get sentamental, I leave that for some other bikers, but I will say that I have grown quite comfortable with this group. I say this not to engender some touching reverie but to point out the fact that, if you can take 10 random people from all over the country, (east of San Diego anyway) throw them into a situation that is always full of uncertainty, requires lots of hours spent in the heat, and a little bit of physical exhertion, and have it work out as well as this bike trip has so far anything is possible. We have been truely blessed along this trip, and hopefully we will continue to be.

"What's the point in getting Nostalgic so soon?" you might ask.

Nothing really, except that now the end is in sight, and the group is still changing. Today saw the addition of five new members, the Merchant family has joined us. Welcome; Jack, Rhonda, Gerry, Zach and Caleb. This brings our youngest age down to 6. It will be fun to ride with new riders, although I'm not sure if anyone can keep up with a few energized young kids... wait, I've been keeping up with Josh during most of this trip. And anyway this may be my last required blog post, so ofcouse some reflection should be expected. (and I think we passed through an area called Nostalgia today.)

Speaking of the ride today, there were a lot of hills. The early ones sparked the question from Tony "Why does every place want to be like the Rockies?" I can't complain though, I though I had left top speeds of 40 mph or higher behind me, how was I supposed to know the mountains of Alabama were still waiting? Also about the ride, and Tony, we have to add another in the row of chalk marks that tallys Tonys broken spokes. And another tear in the puddle that notes Dougs flats. But for the most part, it was a typical 59 mile day on the road.

The end of the ride was typical too. Doug kept his pillow, biking the whole way. We ended up at the Auburn Uninted Methodist Church. We were greated with lunch, and promised dinner and breakfast. 3 meals. All made possible by the Uninted methodist head chef Jerry, owner of a local restaurant Little Texas. (next year we're going to make a point of recruiting him for the trip.)

I requested this blog because I wanted to write about Auburn, since I lived here at one point, but unfortunately I really don't have a lot of memories of the place. When I was younger, I threw a lot of rocks in a local lake (an all day pass time for me, even still.) I lived in a decommisioned baptist church for a while, and I never dreamed I would be coming back here as a 'big kid' on my way biking across the country. This time the point is, you never know where you'll end up. So try to remember as much as you can about the places you've lived in case you have to play tour guide.

Alright, nothing really insightful today, but we are still making it through the ride and it is still fun.
for now
that's all


The Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, where Martin Luther King Jr. was turned back on his march from Selma to Montgomery

Memorials at the Edmund Pettus bridge

Staying in a convent in Montgomery

Passed out at the Baptist church in Meridian

The Tour de Pillow has begun!

A beautiful sunrise leaving Meridian

Primitive kickstands in Alabama

Jenny showing off her teaching skills with some local boys

Vicksburg battlefields surrounded our route out of town.

The amazingly smooth, flat, car-less Natchez Trace Parkway

More from the Natchez Trace.

Tony and I at a rest stop

Nate's Field of Dreams re-enactment

More to follow

On the first day of cycling I had to replace my front de-e-raileur cable.

On the second day of cycling I had to replace 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

On the third day of cycling I had to replace 3 Kenda tires, 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

Monday, July 28, 2008

It has to end (and maybe something about 100+ miles)

I'm really tired, so you'll have to forgive me if I leave things out.

We had to face something this morning that we haven't particularly wanted to face: the end of the trip in less than two weeks. Call me a sentimental fool (or just a fool), but I've grown to love the bikers and feel some dread at how difficult it will be to leave them and our adventure and assimilate back into the real world. 

Tony's devotion this morning shed some light on the end of that tunnel. He referred back to the sermon we heard yesterday, during which the pastor spoke about the mustard seed parable. The pastor mentioned a few other Methodist churches that had failed in the area over the years, and blamed their disbanding on an inward focus that created a mutual appreciation society and spent no time ministering to those outside the congregations. He said that faiths grow and good works spread when individuals reach outward, expanding beyond their comfort zones. Good works don't have to be major, (small things, like mustard seeds, can spread just as fruitfully) but those works have to be done.

Like those mustard seeds (or Kudzu, which they are familiar with here in the South), the nine of us who have been together for so many weeks will soon have to step outside of our comfort zones, outside of our tight, little community that takes care of its members, and spread the message and works of the Fuller Center for Housing. We will disband to our respective states and hopefully be able to do just as much as - or more than - we were able to accomplish as a team. We must pull apart our biking community to grow the Fuller Center community. It has to end.

As for the ride today, there are some things we're very glad to see end. The map said 102 miles. The longest distance today was 107.09, registered by Aaron's trip computer and was thanks to a small navigation error made possible by a slightly confusing map. One hundred and seven was probably also today's temperature and the percent humidity. The team looked rather dead upon arrival at the church, but thankfully appearances can be deceiving.

Tony picked up another donation after mass tonight. New fundraising plan: Send Tony to Catholic churches. He always comes back with $100. Oyee!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

More to follow

On the first day of cycling I had to replace my front de-e-raileur cable.

On the second day of cycling I had to replace 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

Southern Hospitality...

Bobo and his wife, Stacey from Morton (Branch), MS. Some of the nicest hosts we have had ALL trip. A BIG shout out to Branch Baptist Church!!!

Some idiot left the keys running in this for Chris to start and all of us to jump in and take ridiculous pictures.
The driver has many roles besides driving, buying ice and unpacking: they are also the only piece of cotton available to dry off sweat-stained sunglasses! Thanks Rhino!
Not only did Doug WIN the yellow jersey (pillow) today, but he found one on the side of the road. We wanted to keep it, but SOME people (um, everyone else) said we couldn't. Boo!
Welcome to ALABAMA! 
And welcome our newest and last extended-stage rider, Jenny! From VA! Go Jenny!
Hanging out and playing games with the youth at Forest Hills Baptist in Linden, AL.

So not only has our group completely lost sanity, but we also seem to have lost our chore and other responsibilities too. We were originally set-up into three organized and succinct rotating groups that switched every Saturday. Now no one knows what group he/she is on, but things still get done. Blogging has also been at a standstill since we haven't had internet and have been waaaaaaay busy hanging out with local folks and loving the heat and humidity down in the south so much that we don't get to our destinations until dark. But it still gets done. And after relaying this realization to Ryan, our old/wise leader one minute and out-of-control jokester the next, he replied, "Oh, well, I hope someone takes care of the housing crisis, too." So in more words than I needed to say (as usual) here's my take on the hospitable day.

We woke up early to head over to the Habitat for Humanity Meridian/Lauderdale Affiliate for an amazing breakfast of eggs, bacon, coffee (!!), and pre-buttered biscuits (Ryan had 6). Mary and Fonda Rush prepared a wonderful background for Habitat's story there and while there was a little bit of  "ummm, aren't you now the bad guy?" awkwardness, we all realized that we are brothers and sisters on a similar mission to eliminate poverty housing. And that was a good thing to share with one another. 

After breakfast we went to church at Central Methodist Church around 5th Ave. in Meridian where we worshipped with the congregation there during an awesome contemporary story, with a sermon that focused on the mustard seed parable--a little seed, grows into a mighty tree/bush/shrub/whatever. The message in short: have your faith and service grow like Kudzu (the bubonic plague of plants, as Nate described it to me). 

And then we did what we're supposed to and cycled our way across the state line to Alabama the beautiful!! We had a pretty short day (64 miles), with some trouble (come meet TONY!!!!! and the tale of the cursed back wheel!) and met our awesome host, Jessica--the youth pastor at Forest Hills Baptist Church, at a Papas Foods store. (Did we bypass the Mama's?!) Jessica helped us shower and invited some of us to participate in yet another wonderful worship service. This is where I got my first dose of Southern Hospitality. I got hugged. Like by 40 ladies over the age of 60. Everyone wanted to hug us, and pray for us, and congratulate us. It was a really warm feelings--sort of like the humidity down here...all encompassing. 

We got to hang out with the youth group after all the service while our wonderful meal was being prepared. We played "wah" and the flip-cup/make-music game, and another game Aaron taught us. I don't think I've played this much since, um, yesterday. After dinner we heard tales of Alabama/Auburn rivalry and Alabama history. Between the people so far and the big, smooth shoulders we've encountered I think I might want to come back here sometime real soon. Seriously! Southern Hospitality is definitely something that I'll hold onto after the trip is over. 

Hopefully I'll get to hold onto my pillow as well, which Doug has, yet again, after winning the first stage of the real Tour de Pillow (he now has to ride and complete each day he wishes to have the pillow!). Apparently his wife thinks he's crazy, but I think it keeps things, well, interesting. 

Live from Alabama: the place to be!

More to follow

On the first day of cycling I had to replace my front de-e-raileur cable.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Welcome Jenny Hartwig

Well, her name is Jenny Hartwig and she came down here by bus. She may make it to Savannah, but can she put up with us?

San Diego, O don’t you cry for me, ‘cuz I’m headed to Savannah, just my bicycle and me.

Tempus Fugit - Morton, MS

Tempus fugit

Time flies when you’re having fun - and we are. Just yesterday we were celebrating being east of the Mississippi River. Tomorrow will be our last night in Mississippi. Tempus fugit.

Today was not at all flat, as was yesterday – we climbed over 3,000 feet. But 13 miles, at least, were flat, pastoral, peaceful, historical and all around very enjoyable – we got to bike 13 miles of the Natchez Trace Parkway. (Turns out we could have stayed on it even longer, but we didn’t find that out until later – that’s why they call it the “inaugural” bicycle “adventure”). The Natchez Trace is the old trail where boatmen who had sold their goods and dismantled their boats in Natchez, MS, would walk back north since they could not boat upstream until steamboats were invented.

Anyway, we are no longer in Vicksburg with its historic downtown that has free wifi; we are in rural Morton, where dinner conversation turns to squirrel hunting and the “local” church is 11 miles from “downtown” (never fear, Brother Bobo was only too happy to transport us and our bikes in his pickup truck).

Along the way, we saw a VW graveyard that no one seemed to have time to take a picture of (tempus fugit). And we had 5 flats – Doug – 2, Dani – 2, and Nate (yes, Nate!) got his very first flat. I had contemplated mentioning in the blog that one of us still hadn’t had a flat and even mentioned it to Nate, so I probably jinxed him. Sorry, Nate. Ryan had 2 flats yesterday and I had one the day before. I’m probably missing some. I’ve decided having a flat on a road bike is like noticing your shoe lace is untied: you bend over, fix it and go on your way without giving it another thought – the flat just takes a little longer to fix.

It tried to rain on some of us. With 3 of us it succeeded. We heard thunder once, but we waited out the shower and all were able reach our rendezvous point in Morton – a Sonic drive-in – at happy hour, no less (half price for selected soft drinks).

Once at the Branch Baptist Church, Brother Bobo and his wife Stacy had prepared air mattresses for all of us, allowed us to use the shower in their home, and provided one of the tastiest meals we’ve had on our trip, prepared by “a few” of their members – the leftovers would probably have fed a few dozen hungry souls.

To top it off, they got up before we did (5am) and served us scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and biscuits. They could not have been more helpful or attentive. Thanks!

I thought it might be time for some updated statistics, so here they are:

Total miles biked: 2,663
Average miles per day: still 78
Total feet climbed: 84,709!

Miles down / to go: 2663 / 637 – 80% finished
States down / to go: 8 / 3 – after tomorrow it will be 9 / 2
Weeks down / to go: 6 / 2 - 75% finished
Biking days remaining: 11 – 3 averaging 101 miles and 8 averaging 43 miles

Total flats: too many to remember

I could tell you more about today, but that would actually be tomorrow from the point of view of this post. Because there was no wifi or cellphone connection to the internet in Morton, I'm posting this in Meridian "tomorrow".

Tempus fugit

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Bye-Bye Bayou, Hello Mississippi" - an ode to the Armadillo

The true entry for July 24th
Why did the chicken cross the road?
To prove to the Armadillo that it could be done.
 It would have been better if that pesky chicken had never crossed the road, and had left the Armadillo to cower off to one side.  We have seen Armadillo's in every state since Kansas, but we have yet to see one alive.    On to more about the day.  As the day started we had to pull ourselves up and out of the house and on to the road.  It was to be our last day in Louisiana, and we wanted to get an early start, so; back to our routine wake up time of 5:00. 
 On the road we are still finding ways to motivate ourselves.  The pillow contest continued today, with Mississippi up for grabs.  If Doug couldn't make it through the day, not only would he loose the pillow, he would be forced to grow a Fumanchu for the remainder of the trip.  I think that the bargain was a little skewed: 3 nights with the Pillow, or an embarrassing crop of facial hair for the remainder of the trip?  
O well, it doesn't matter.  Once again Doug walks away with the Pillow.  Josh is left to rest his head on... well I don't know really, but it can't be as nice as a Laura-Ashley designer pillow.  I found my motivation at mile 35.  A brief stop at a gas station in Louisiana to find postcards yielded something else instead: Blue Nehi.  A childhood soda which used to be my favorite.  I don't drink a lot of carbonated beverages, but I had to buy this one.  It sat in the cooler as a reward waiting for me at the end of the day.
    Others in the group also resorted to childhood antics to make it through the day. At the 40 mile rest stop, a playground managed to provide for more then a few minutes of entertainment.  The swing set and teeter totter (see-saw for some of us) were enough to keep us occupied for a while. And; the Doug and Josh comic routine is an ongoing event sweeping across the nation at a pace roughly equivalent to our pedaling, but doing damage at a much more accelerated rate.    The ride itself was uneventful.
  Except for: a trip past the Taloola Prison, the continuous bumpy road, the inevitable 30 armadillos to dodge, the swamplands, the construction that had us biking on graded pavement for what seemed like 50 miles (but was probably only 7), the three flats, the closed and inaccessible bridge across the Mississippi and the resulting eventual shuttle ride on I-20, the brand new state, and a partridge in a pear tree.
    Unfortunately, though we saw some swamps and spent most of our ride in the flats and floodplains of North Eastern Louisiana, the only Gatorskins we've seen so far are those on Katherine's and Aarons wheels.  I guess I shouldn't count this as a complete negative, as it also keeps our count of gator related accidents to 0, a number I hope it stays at.  (though any gators would make for a more eventful blog post.)  
    The First Baptist of Vicksburg, MS welcomed us well, Sherryl and Pastor Matt, were very nice and accommodating in showing us around. Lee and some of the crew were kind enough to serve us Lasagna, salad, and key-lime and chocolate pie.  The town it self seems interesting.  Cannon everywhere- and I don't want to make any rash suggestions, but Louisana, I think you should know most of them are aimed your way - and several interesting old churches.  (yes cannon is plural)  Hopefully we'll get to see more of the town tomorrow, from our bike seat.    
    Speaking of bike seat, on a day like today, with 73 miles of fairly flat riding, you really start to notice that you have one.  It makes you glad to arrive at your destination, get a shower and if you are Doug our I, claim your prize.  I don't know about the pillow, but mine tastes a lot like a really good, really blue, cream soda.  
Congratulations to Doug for making it through a less then Ideal day, (the construction was rough on all of us.) 
And most of all congratulations to the state of Louisiana, you are on your way to having a canyon to rival the Grand one out in Arizona.  Highway 80  has a continuous crack through it's entire length, (even under most of the newly paved sections).  If you nurse and encourage it well, I am sure it well one day grow to epic proportions.   
For now I guess that truly is all.
And in case you are reading this; Jenny, When you join us in a few days, please be prepared for the oddities a ridiculousness that may onset in a group that has ridden 2/3's of the way across the country together.  We're not too bad; really, just ummm.., be prepared  
 For now That is seriously all. 

Shout out to Zach, Kelsey and Nicole

Addendum to July 20 post:

O we came to bike for just one week from C-A to A-Z,
We are gone but not forgotten, he is Zach and I’m Kelsey.

Well she biked to Albuquerque with the other Notr’Dame guys, but I don’t think I’ll reveal her name; I’ll keep it a Surprise.

San Diego, O don’t you cry for me, ‘cuz I’m headed to Savannah, just my bicycle and me.

We miss you Zach, Kelsey and Nicole. You are in our thoughts.

Tony et al. (that’s lawyer talk – ask Kelsey)

Bike and Build

Today was a first for us riders we woke up late in order to get some riding in during the hottest part of the day; because we are firm believers in the pain or in this case copious amounts of sweat equals gain motto. And because the always reliable press thought we were coming to Shreveport on Tuesday, and therefore needed to get a photo op of us leaving. Once that was done we began the long trek to Minden, a whole THIRTY MILES. We were pleasantly surprised to be greeted with a huge welcome sign and members of the church, volunteers from the work site, the family whose house we would be building, and our favorite fans (Tamara and Emily). After a quick change of clothes we were shuttled off to the work site where we initially treated like celebrities. However, once we were put to work our newly acquired superstar status seemed to be forgotten as we put up siding and nailed tyvek in the one hundred degree heat. By the end of our workday it looked as though we had gotten caught in a rainstorm: despite the fact hat the sky had remained cloud free all day. It was in this sad shape that we were sent to the local coca cola plant and speak with Don, a bicycling guru. Who had signed pictures of many of the greats and had gotten the chance to ride Lance Armstrong. Eventually we were forced to shower, if we wanted permission to eat. Then we were treated to dinner at The Dorcheat. Where we each branched out from our comfort zones as far as the food was concerned. Josh eating crawfish patties while the less adventurous among us, such as myself, ate oddly shaped hush puppies. I am sorry this blog is so short but due to the fact that it has taken me three days to get around to writing it many of the details are fuzzy. All I can say for sure is that Doug Tony and Chris most certainly snored, the road was defiantly a disgrace (as it has been for all of the state), and we all attempted to act normal while in the presence of the sane at dinner (we probably failed).


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Minden to Monroe

Rolling out of Minden this morning under a police escort, we paraded through the center of town showing off our Fuller Center pride to all. Additionally, about five other riders, along with one runner joined us for the ceremonious dismissal. Among these honorary cyclists were Don Hunter our friend from the Coca-Cola bottling plant, and numerous members of the First United Methodist Church of Minden: Paula, “FM” and his wife Ruth, David, and Ted. “FM” and Ruth, married for 61 years, joined us on their classic tandem to celebrate Ruth’s 86th birthday. They led us out after being serenaded by Tony’s harmonious renditions of “Happy Birthday” and “Bicycle Built for Two.”
Now I would like to take the time to introduce our friend and companion of the Deep South states…Highway 80! This stretch of pavement spanning from Texas to Alabama can be summed up as…

Ba-BUMP, Ba-BUMP, Rumble….Rumble…Rumble, SMACK, OUCH!!!!!!
Ba-BUMP, Ba-BUMP, Rumble….Rumble…Rumble, SMACK, OUCH!!!!!!
Ba-BUMP, Ba-BUMP, Rumble….Rumble…Rumble, SMACK, OUCH!!!!!!
(Repeat this sequence every ten seconds for 4½ hours and you will understand the road conditions for today’s ride)

Mix in 100-degree temperatures and 100% humidity and this is the closest I have felt to one of my Florida training rides. Maybe I’ll have an advantage! Nevertheless, Chris Nathan, Josh and I had a particularly great day of riding, appreciating the fast, rolling hills of central Louisiana. While Ryan, Dani, Katherine and Tony rolled in right behind, seeming to enjoy the scenery of the day’s ride.

We finally arrived in Monroe, LA unscathed by numerous chasing dogs and sweltering heat, and greeted by the truly generous hospitality of Auburn Ave. Presbyterian Church who kindly offered us their guesthouse, an early 1900s Southern mansion called the Jackson House. Complete with white pillars, a front porch, and a proper parlor room, we are living in real Southern Style. Thank you to all who continue to make our bike trip a reality and a success!

Building in Shreveport

Staging roof trusses

Doug showing off his hammer-head

"Shotgun" houses in Shreveport

New Fuller Center houses in Shreveport

"FM" and Ruth on their tandem

Ryan doing PR work

A long day's work in Shreveport

Our lodgings in Monroe, LA

Chris and Nathan setting the pace.

Chris and Tony with a happy homeowner

The local Shreveport hangout

Welcome to Minden!

Dani working hard in Minden

Ryan needs a helmet in the car?

Shreveport LA Build

We stopped in Shreveport LA to help build with the Fuller Center there.    They are making a real difference there not only building homes and changing lives, but transforming the neighborhood of Allendale from drug infested row homes to new homes that are creating an entire neighborhood of hope and renewal.  They are indeed building on higher ground.

We wish to thank the FC staff there including Renee, Averil and all the Board members who helped make our stay so enjoyable and memorable.  A special thanks to Glen and Brenda Barton who were in Shreveport for a meeting with the Fuller Center there.  They were very helpful in getting us situated and made us feel right at home.

On a personal note, I also want to thank one of our cyclists, Josh, for challenging me to ride the entire distance into Kilgore, TX which I was able to do (95 miles).  

We're now more than half way to our final destination (Savannah GA) and it's hard to believe that our trip will soon be drawing to a close.  It's been an adventure and a pleasure to be part of such a great group of people.

Another amazing thing is how grateful and hospitable folks have been to us along the way. Most are unable to join us on our ride due to physical, work or family situations but they can live out the ride through us.  

Please continue to pray for Linda Fuller and Jack Wolters.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A letter from Millard Fuller

July 17, 2008

Dear Ryan and fellow Bicycle Adventurers:

Warm greetings to all of you from southwest Georgia. I hope the ride continues to go well.

I want every one of you to know how proud I am about what you are doing. You are incredible ambassadors of goodwill for The Fuller Center. You are not only raising a lot of money, but you are raising awareness and planting seeds for new Fuller Center Covenant Partner groups. I just could not be happier with what you are doing and with what you are accomplishing.

About now, I think, you are hitting the halfway point on your long journey. Just know that you are accomplishing so much and I am sure you will continue to do so in the remaining weeks.

As you are pedaling and moving steadily eastward, know that the work is ongoing in Americus. Every day brings new excitement and more people who want to join this movement of God’s love in action.

Kirk continues to work closely with new groups that are in process of forming Fuller Center Covenant Partner organizations. David Snell is in North Korea this week, seeking to plant seeds for the beginning of a Fuller Center program in that country.

Glen Barton continues to nurture Covenant Partners and help them to maximize their effectiveness in ministry.

Holly Chapman is doing a great job of spreading the word and helping to bring the funds into the headquarters that we need to continue to move vigorously ahead with this work. This week, for example, we are putting in the mail about 120,000 letters which, I am sure, will produce several more thousands of dollars for the ministry.

I am continuing to speak widely. Last week, I was in Fresno, California to meet with a group that wants to start The Fuller Center in that city. I also met there with a number of Armenians who are interested in helping to support the big program we have in Armenia.

Later in the week, I spoke at the annual meeting of the Alabama Bar Association. Then, I was out in Las Vegas to speak at a program called Freedom Fest and to speak in a large Lutheran church.

This week, Linda had her operation on her left knee. I will be at home taking care of her for the next month. Please keep her, and me, in your prayers. I will continue, of course, to do my work, but it will be from home because my primary responsibility will be taking care of her as she recovers from the surgery on her left knee.

Well, Ryan, that’s about it for now. Let me tell you and all of the others again how proud I am of you and how pleased I am with what you are accomplishing. May God continue to be with you, guiding and blessing you as you make your way eastward.

In joyous Christian partnership,

Millard Fuller

Biking on Higher Ground

Today was a special day for me. After a wonderful morning sharing about The Fuller Center and our adventure with Pastor Bill and all of the other fine folks at First Christian Church, we headed to Shreveport, Louisiana. Almost a year ago I had the privilege of being in Shreveport for the 2nd annual Millard and Linda Fuller Blitz Build, where we built 9 homes in a week and rehabbed 5 more, using about 500 volunteers from all over the U.S. and around the world. At the end, we laughed and cried and dedicated each of the houses, leaving behind a lasting legacy from our week of work. It was simply incredible. (This year's Millard and Linda Fuller Blitz Build is scheduled for El Salvador in November. It's not too late to sign up!)

Today, our group returned to the site. Glen and Brenda Barton, who for two years did an amazing job leading the building and rehabbing of 40 homes in Shreveport's Allendale neighborhood, happened to be in town to welcome us and snap a few pictures of us riding in front of the very first Fuller Center homes. Many of the families had relocated from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and it was here that our Fuller Center slogan of "Building on Higher Ground" was born. It's fitting that we would now bike on the same street, enthusiastically welcomed by many of the Fuller Center's partner families who came out to greet us, to make us truly "Biking on Higher Ground."

For years, if not decades, Allendale had been filled with horribly dilapidated shotgun houses. This is an awesome video about the neighborhood and our work there. Here, take a look by clicking on the video below.

One last note: We're currently at a little over $65,000 raised towards our $100,o00 goal. We feel confident that we can bike the last 1,000 miles, but we're going to need some help to raise the last dollars. Would you consider helping us in this way? We would be so grateful. Just click on the thermometer in the top right, and/or consider asking a friend to help us. Thanks for everything!


Monday, July 21, 2008

Promises, promises, blogs are coming.

Well, I'm not scheduled for the blog, but in order to keep our beloved fans up to date, I thought I would add a comment and a photo or two. We'll eventually have two more blog post up recounting the last few days, but I want everyone to know that we survived our build day in Shreveport, LA.
Our acomidations have been wonderful, as we have been taken in by an entire community of Fuller Center for Housing residents. They have welcomed us by giving us drinks and bottled water after a long day of biking and working. They have shared with us stories of what their expreiences with the Fuller Center have been like. They have given us tours of the neighborhood which has been changed and continues to change because of the presence of the Fuller Center for Housing. All in all, they seem like an amazing group of people. I'm sure you'll hear more about them and our experiences when the next blog post go up. For now I'll just add some photos.

Biking into spiderwebs: Unbeknownst to Josh and Danny, they are in the midst of a trap with no escape. Fortunately, with quick thinking, I am able to blind the spider with my flash so they can make a hasty retreat.

Signing the papers: Our crew gets ready to start building... only , Doesn't it look like all of the work has been done for us?

Getting some coverage of the coverage: Aaron takes a picture, as Ryan gets interviewed by one of the local news stations.
What it's all about: A night view of one of the new communities started with the Fuller Center for Housing. This area was once all Shotgun-houses. Now it looks great. I hope that our work pays off so well!
(On a side note... the sun is down and we are still up!? This is late for our group!)

Okay more comming, as soon as our group catchs up with themselves. Goodnight,