Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In dollars and cents

The impact of our Bicycle Adventure goes far beyond the funds we have raised - we built relationships, planted seeds, put our hands to work on building or renovating houses, and had a wonderful time.

But the fundraising component is so very important because you can't build homes without money! Therefore, early in the planning process I published one of our goals as raising $100,000, and I was blessed to be able to find an anonymous donor who gave $15,000 so that along with the registration fees all the costs of the trip would be covered. As a result, every dollar we raised is going straight towards The Fuller Center's mission. (The $15k for covering costs is not included in the donation figures below.)

Now that I am back in the office, I have been seeing firsthand the donations both large and small that are just continuing to flow in here almost daily. As of August 18th, with $50,000 in property donated in the Louisville, KY area through Steve Hale's leg of the ride and $84,058.50 raised in cash from everyone's efforts, I am proud to say we have already raised $134,058.50 - greatly surpassing our goal! As a team we feel overwhelmed by such an outpouring.

How we will use it:

Our bicycle trip is excited to announce that we will be able to sponsor an entire house in El Salvador for the up-coming Millard and Linda Fuller Blitz Build. 300 volunteers from around the country and the world will convene in San Luis Talpa, El Salvador, to build 16 homes in a week! I will get to be there, and it would be great if some of you reading this will join me and all these others. Learn more about it and register here.

Our riders have also chosen to give substantially to the Fuller Center projects in Nepal, Peru, Sri Lanka, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sponsoring an entire house in some of those nations.

In the U.S., funds will be sent out to 14 Fuller Center Covenant Partners across 11 states. The biggest winners are our project in the Chattahoochee Valley of Alabama/Georgia and our project in Louisville, Kentucky. Our ride will result in funding for an entire major home rehab in both of these cities with a family in need.

The riders are also choosing to give amounts great and small to the projects in Potomac Highlands, WV; St. Petersburg, FL; Shreveport, LA; Springfield, KY; Pottawattamie County, IA; Dallas, TX; Webster Parish, LA; Oklahoma City, OK; Cusseta, GA; Americus, GA; San Diego, CA; and Benton Harbor, MI. The funds will either go towards a new build or be enough for more moderate home rehab projects in these places.

Lastly, many of the riders chose to designate all or some of their proceeds "where most needed." Although less glamorous, we are so grateful for these funds that will be used in so many desperately needed ways to the benefit of this ministry in the days to come.

And so the ripples from our journey continue to go out and be a blessing to others. Thank you, thank you to everyone who made this possible!! I look ahead with eager anticipation to the adventures and blessings that may yet unfold.

Ryan Iafigliola

Another result from our trip: a simple, decent place to live in Nepal.

A family in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will finally have a solid and healthy place to call home because of an entire home sponsorship made possible through Tony's ride.

A girl posing by some of the temporary housing thousands of families have been forced to live in after the earthquake near Lima in 2007. We are helping sponsor a home in Peru.

Sri Lanka continues to rebuild following the tsunami. The Fuller Center is helping.

We are also contributing to Chattahoochee Valley Fuller Center in Lanett and Valley, AL and West Point, Georgia. Our trip will contribute to this and 13 other Fuller Center projects across the United States.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Last Word

Ryan gave me an extra day of blog posting privileges so that I could post the final stats. So I feel I should say something profound before I "sign off."

I hate endings and goodbyes, but, as others have said, this is not the end but for each of us in different ways just the beginning. So good luck and Godspeed to all the riders, all who made the ride possible and especially those for whom we rode - our brothers and sisters in Christ who deserve a simple decent place to call home.

As for profound final words, I'm still catching up on my sleep, so this is about as profound as it gets:

Here we come, there we go.

Some ride fast, some ride slow.

But the job is getting done,

And we’re having lots and lots of fun!

Here we come, there we go.

ONE YEAR down, MANY MORE to go!

We are bikers, builders too.

Let us stop and build a house with you.

Fuller Center – Bike Adventure!

Fuller Center – Bike Adventure!

Fuller Center – Bike Adventure!


Final statistics

For those of you craving a final accounting of our fundraising success (a major purpose of our ride) you'll have to wait for something from Ryan. For other statistics ranging from interesting to trivial, here you go:

Total trip days: 56

Total biking days: 45 (2 days orientation; 4 days off; 6 build days, including one bike and build in the same day)

Total miles: 3322

Average miles per day: 75

197.5 hours on a bike
Median hours/day on a bike: 5.2 (excluding off days)
Avg. speed: 15.3 mph

Total Feet Climbed: over 100,000

Total flats: best estimate - 67

First flat: Doug

Last flat: Doug

Most flats: Doug – about 15

Total replacement tires used: best estimate – 20 (men – 20, women – 0; women also had the fewest flats at 3 each)

Total broken spokes by Tony: 5

Total broken spokes by everyone else: 0

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Riders' Anthem

Here is a recording of Tony's song about each of us.
Sorry about the popping in the audio, the microphone was a little close.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Take Stock, Look Ahead

On the seventh day, God rested. I’ve started a post like this once before, but on the morning of our last riding day, Kirk started with it. God didn’t rest to recoup strength, Kirk said, but He rested to take stock of things.

We made millions of small decisions throughout the bike ride. Nothing went terribly wrong. Now the cyclists have returned to the real world and we, too, should stop, rest and take stock of how the trip affected us. We must take stock of what is really important in our lives after spending so much time away from most things familiar. We must take stock of what we discovered our gifts to be, and how we might use them. 

It became clear that the cycling aspect of the trip lured most of us. The building lured some equally. In the end, it was as much a faith journey for many as it was a cross-country bike trip. For me, it very well may have changed the entire course of my life as I look now to non-profit work instead of straight, newspaper journalism. I feel that I can’t turn away from spending my time directly improving the lives of others.

Riding in the car to my parents’ hotel last Friday night, I found myself clutching the back wheel of my bicycle, which rested on the folded-down seat next to me. My mom asked jokingly if I had developed an emotional attachment to my bike, and I believe I returned her with a serious look.

I won’t see my bike again for almost two weeks, as the guys at the shop in Savannah are backed up with repair jobs. It was much cheaper to ship it than spend $100 to haul it onto the plane, but I can’t dredge up any reason as to why it could be good for me to go that long without getting on the saddle. Perhaps it will prevent long days spent riding aimlessly around the city, lost in thought and looking for a small, white trailer surrounded by orange jerseys.

(But it hasn’t stopped me from checking out the 2008 Cannondales, finding a website listing all of the Texas bike rides and joining the local cycling club!)

Today is the day to start looking ahead, to stop missing college, to stop missing the bike trip. But I have to echo Chris (in the post below this one - check it out): 

I miss y'all.

Reality, what a concept...

On the way home from another 10 hour work day, I realized what my problem was: P.T.S.D., or Post Tremendous Stress Syndrome. That feeling you have right after a really great adventure when the routine of daily life starts to creep back in and crowd out all those great memories.

I think I need a long day on the bike. Anyone want to meet up, say around West Virginia, for a little "hill" work?

Lest you get the wrong idea, I really love my job as a carpenter. The stress comes from buying my first home (the closing is this Friday). Yes, the irony of this is not lost on me.

At any moment, I can close my eyes (preferably not while driving!) and return to a favorite stretch of road from the trip. I feel the wind on my face, the sun on my arms and the burn in my legs. Hey, wait a minute, this whole "being done with the bike ride" might not be so bad after all. Except for losing these killer tan lines...

I miss ya'll...

From riding east to riding high

My writing is too clumsy to adequately describe the joys of our final days of riding all the way to the coast, and my words are too limited to properly express the gratitude that I feel to so many. Thankfully Katherine's words aren't as clumsy and she already wrote a wonderful post for our last day's ride down Victory Drive (that was the real name of the street), so that leaves me with "only" needing to attempt to express the tremendous sense of gratitude I feel towards so many. Here goes...

My biggest thanks and "Oyee" goes to each of the riders who boldly responded to the call, including Chris Cosby who was ready to sign up for it even before I was ready to announce that it was happening! Thank you for putting your faith in us and for putting your faith into action. You are the heroes of this trip.

But you aren't the only heroes. How could we say thank you enough to each of the hosts, with whom we touched paths for just one short instant, and yet whose hospitality and friendship we will always remember. Thank you to the over 500 donors who supported us with their resources, and to the countless others who supported us with prayer. Thank you to the riders who kept things interesting for us by joining with us for a day or part of a day as we traveled through different cities, especially Ruth who joined us in Minden, LA on her 86th birthday.

Thank you to those who lined up to welcome us at different points along the way, cheering us on as though we were stars. And thank you to the readers of this blog for allowing us to entertain and - we hope - inspire you. Perhaps you will consider joining us on the road next year or getting involved with The Fuller Center in other ways, such as by coming to the Millard and Linda Fuller Blitz Build in El Salvador in November.

We finished our ride on Friday, which happened to be 8/8/08. Oddly enough, there were five other 8's to add to those three (5+3=8) that lined up at the conclusion of our ride:
- 8 riders went the whole way coast to coast
- It took us exactly 8 weeks to do it.
- We had raised just over $80,000 in cash when we finished.
- Our youngest rider (on a tandem) was 8 years old.
- We rode in on Route 80.

Kind of cool, huh? All while riding in with our police escort on "Victory Drive." I couldn't possibly plan these things.

Clarence Jordan, Millard Fuller's spiritual mentor and the founder of Koinonia Farm, translated Hebrews 11:1 in his Cotton Patch Gospel as,Now faith is the turning of dreams into deeds; it is betting your life on unseen realities. You have turned my dream into deeds, into reality. I cannot thank you enough for your faith.


P.S. Coming soon to this blog...the final details of all our fund raising efforts!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Savannah to Tybee (Finally!)

“Did you ride slow and savor the last day on the bike?” my dad asked me.


With a police escort over the three bridges and roughly 15 miles to Tybee Island, “Team Creamsicle” formed two pace lines and sprinted to the finish. When we arrived at our ocean access point, everyone threw off their shoes, hoisted their bikes and ran to the water. Several mounted up in bare feet to pedal into the beautiful, warm waves of the Atlantic. No one threw his or her bike into the ocean (a good sign), but we did strip down and throw ourselves in.

Triumphant. Joyful.

My dad said his cross-country bike trip resides in pieces in his memory, but the last day is very clear. I hope to always remember mine. I hope to not forget the moment when I first smelled the salty air or felt the chills of accomplishment and awe. I hope not to forget the low marshes full of white egrets or the three hills we climbed – everyone pushing the big gear up front and Kirk encouraging his son Levi not to shift down. I hope not to forget the low-hanging trees of Savannah that canopied our roll-out, or the colorful signs of Tybee Island advertising all sorts of beachy eateries and shops. There was Dani racing to catch her dad, who started riding way ahead of everyone, and there was Aaron turning around once and a while to ask if everyone was still with the pace line and feeling OK.

I know I won’t forget high-fiving Tony, Aaron and Josh while pedaling at 22 mph.

I know I won’t forget the moment when I heard Kirk say behind me, “This is the last bridge.”

Things are kind of a blur after we came out of the water to stand together on the beach and sing the state song one last time.

“Eleven states down, none to go!”

We rode to the lighthouse to take pictures. Josh and Doug pedaled around a parking lot on one of the Merchant’s recumbent bikes. Aaron took me for a spin on the tandem bike that “Domer Dad” and Aaron’s sister were riding. There was lunch; there was dinner. There was a hug circle where we said our true goodbyes.

Thank you Holly and the Fuller Center for lunch; thank you Domer Dad for the ice cream and pies; thank you to Chris’s family for cooking us dinner; thank you to Dani’s family for letting us crash your place Friday night.

Thank you Ryan. Thank you Millard. Thank you family, friends and God.

(I know that I can only speak for the group in some respects, so I encourage the other riders to continue posting their own thoughts on the trip’s end.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008


On my trip back to Florida, I had to take one last photo.

For Tony's song: 12 states down... -1 to go!!!

I Had the Strangest Dream

Dear family and friends,

I had the strangest dream the night before last. I dreamt that I was riding my bike across the country with a bunch of college kids - like that would ever happen! We biked through the desert and mountains and humidity like I've never seen. Then I woke up with Mary in the motor home as usual.

We went to Cracker Barrel for a late breakfast. When I got my credit card out I found the oddest thing in my pocket - a very large piece of green chalk - hmmm. And then when we went back to the RV there was Spanish moss hanging from the satellite dish - hmmm.

Oh, well, I guess stranger things have happened. Guess I'll just go for a bike ride and forget about it (as soon as I fix the flat on my front wheel).


PS Love you guys - hope everyone got home safe.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Final Reflections (Preview)

Greetings, Loyal Readers and Riders:

I was scheduled to blog two days ago and again tonight. For now, all I am trying to do is stay conscious as I approach re-entry into the atmosphere. Twenty-two miles per hour, two parallel pace lines and a police escort is how it ended. We definitely rode in style to Tybee Island.

For now, I am just going to leave you with some photos below. Please check back in 24-36 hours for a genuine post. It may take 24-36 days to even process the 3,300 miles behind me and everything and everyone that got me to the Georgia coast. All I can say now is, can we just turn around and bike back?

I suspect other team members may want to throw in their two cents in the days to come. So although it's my assigned duty to bring the final moments of the trip to you, keep checking the blog (and leaving comments) as we regroup our thoughts. Hopefully, I won't be the only one writing again.

Oyee! from Savannah, GA

Racing to the beach

Dipping of the front tires in the Atlantic Ocean

Oyee! at the Tybee Island lighthouse

Celebratory swim/dunking/high-fiving

Signing of the jerseys

Friday, August 8, 2008

Can't Stop Singin' (or getting flats)

First off, thanks to the Shenks for hosting a great post-goodbye-party goodbye party. Oyee Colin for a delicious meal.

For those who did not attend, came late or were preparing food, and especially for Auntie "M", here is the full Savannah version of the O Susanna song.

And, by the way, when I got back to the RV my front tire was flat. Anyone have more than 13?

O I left my home in Michigan for Californ-i-ay. I was headed to Savannah, gonna make it any day.

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

repeat after each verse

I’m from Chattahoochee Valley, I’m a builder don’t you see. And as well a lifelong cyclist, what a perfect ride for me.

Well, we both came down from Jersey, though from vastly different exits; and a person from New Jersey is the only one who gets it.

Well, I went out West from Florida, the sunshine was the same. Soon’s I set foot in Savannah I’ll be off to Notre Dame.

I’m from Cleveland – NO Americus, the leader of the pack. Biked from East to West Coast last year, now I’m cycling my way back.

I’m a runner from Kentucky, it was quite a feat for me. Had to bike with my torn ACL besides a busted knee.

I’m a journalist from San Antone, thought I’d give this ride a whirl. Though I may not have and accent, I’m a sho’ ‘nuff Texas girl.

O I came from Philadelphia, my dreidel left behind. When I got to Albuquerque, well, I just took cuts in line.

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.

O her name is Jenny Hartwig and she came down South by bus;

Well she made it to Savannah and she did put up with us.

Well the Merchants joined in Auburn, Gerri, Rhonda, Jack and tykes,

Zach and Caleb rode beside them on recumbent tandem trikes.

Well he rode with us in spirit ‘cuz he let us use his truck;

And had Kirk not been so gen’rous, boy, would we be out of luck!

Then he joined us with son Levi, they both found us in West Point.

Then they served us dinner at their home, a quite impressive joint.

Well I made it to Savannah but I wasn’t all alone;

Mary brought the RV to Lanett, so I’m already home.

San Diego, O don’t you cry for me, ‘cuz I made it to Savannah, with my wife, bike and RV.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

12 Days of Cycling

OK, let's get this song over with today. The suspense is just killing Auntie M (and probably no one else). Josh's post is so eloquent, I hate to post above it - great job, Josh.

On the twelfth day of cycling I had to replace 12 zillion inner tubes, 11 dozen clif bars, 10 bunches of bananas, 9 packs of bagels, 8 tubs of cream cheese, 7 loaves of bread, 6 jars of peanut butter, 5 honey bears, 4 brake pad inserts, 3 Kenda tires, 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

One new statistic that should have made it into the song:

Average broken spokes per rider: 0.5
Total broken spokes: 5.0
Tony's broken spokes: 5.0

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sow the Spirit...

Dear Readership,

Thank you for following us. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for your donations and your phone calls; your packages and your letters. This post is for you.

As Katherine put it this morning, we want trouble. Well, maybe I'm the only one who really wants any sort of trouble (I'm pretty sure I've offended nearly one person from every state so far!), but what she meant was--we don't want smooth sailing; we don't want to become complacent with where we are and who we've become--Christ compels us to change, adapt and love. That's part of the reason I think most of us joined this trip--we were looking to be shaken up, looking to be challenged and pushed; looking to grow. For me, six-weeks later, I've grown in a way I'm not sure I was ready for.

When I first began drafting sponsor letters and putting together my logistics for this ride I actually had very little knowledge of what the Fuller Center was (honestly, I never even looked at the DVD Ryan sent us beforehand), and I actually didn't care more so than you'd care about PETA or Save the Children--nice organizations, maybe even something worthy of a couple bucks here and there, but nothing you want invading your life. Let's face it: those canvassers are pretty in-your-face about donating or signing a petition or blah-blah-blah whatever. 

I think it first hit me in Rocky Ford, CO that the Fuller Center was something different. After a week with the team and a week's worth of asking "So who is Miller Fullerd?!" and "So we just build people houses for free, right?!" and Ryan shaking his head dozens of times, thinking, Somebody get this boy a pamphlet! During that Sunday at church, Ryan spoke about the Fuller Center as a ministry, and I cocked an eyebrow in honest curiousity. And maybe it was because I was wearing the name plastered on my jersey and t-shirts everywhere I went, but my heart was open and I was listening. And Ryan preached on about God's plan for us to be the instruments of His love here on earth and we watched the 9 minute DVD about the FC, and I got choked up. I even shared my testimony, openly. 

From then on I was more intrigued about who Millard Fuller was, what his ministry was about, and what exactly we were a part of--is this just some bike trip I was riding in for some random cause?! And Rocky Ford became a springboard for my growth as I dove into the pool of housing--going from not knowing how to assemble an IKEA desk to understanding what Rough Openings are and what in the world a Truss is. Who knew a city kid who hate(s/d) manual labor could be useful on a build site?!

And this is exactly what I'm talking about--I mean, here I am reflecting on a cross-country bike trip, and I haven't mentioned once the biking! I mean the hills, the flats, the tubes, the tires, the chamois cream, the saddle sores, the 5 AM wake-ups, the bagels eaten, the peanut-butter devoured, the phone-calls taken by Ryan, the fights over blue/red/yellow gatorade, the rest stops, the rockies, the desert, the mountains, the national landmarks. Not even once. 

When people ask about that all I can say is, "you had to be there...but do you know about the Fuller Center ministry?" Because in a way the biking is a novelty, but the ministry not only is lasting, but is contagious and perpetual. 

And in the end, when something great is ending it is difficult to get one final, pithy summary large enough to encompass the whole experience. When you throw your whole entire being into something--spiritually, physically and mentally exhausting yourself, what can you say when it's over that will let those on the outside fully understand the roller-coaster of happiness, pain, joy, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of defeat, fatigue, spiritual battles won and lost all at once? I guess you could say this...

That our ride was and is just beginning. 
And you are the ones that will keep it going.

Thanks to our team--everyone of them, for their gifts, talents, service, love and jokes (!); and thanks to you--you are the love behind us all.

Peace and Love,

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

August 5th - My 2 Cents

I would just like to say what an honor it is to be a support to these wonderful Fuller Center bikers. They are dedicated to humanity and they love to bike. Today they biked 110 miles, give-or-take and came in with smiles on their faces.

Yesterday when we were asked to help renovate a house for these 3 ladies who were definitely living in sub-standard housing, the bikers painted and worked on this house in 90 degree, wet heat for 7 hours and a smile on their faces then too.

If these are the folks that we have entrusted with our society for the next generation, I am proud to know them and trust them with our future.

Thanks bikers for letting me be part of the solution along with you.

Mary (Tony's wife)

Looking ahead after the longest day

(A post or two about our time in Americus will hopefully appear as soon as those parties to whom the duty was assigned checks the blog schedule and gets their respective rears in gear. Ahem - cough.)

As for today, I drove the SAG wagon. Twelve members of the team rode bicycles. The Merchants stayed back in Americus to continue painting a Fuller Center house and even raised more money. (Oyee!) Total distance out of Americus: 109 miles. The End.

Well, not quite the end, especially if tonight's south-Georgia Chinese food doesn't sit well. I unfortunately can't say much for what it was like to get back on the saddle after our longest break to hammer out the longest single day of riding. (On top of that, we're all a bit sore from water skiing with Millard Fuller. Life is rough.) From where I sat - the driver's seat of a car - the team looked strong. Besides, it's only a wet heat. And, everyone was spoiled at mile 60 when Mary (Tony's wife) pulled up in the motor home and provided AC, water and a real bathroom. I think she still doesn't believe that much of this trip was devoid of material luxuries.

Which brings me to something I've been thinking about since Montgomery, AL. We attended a black Catholic church service that was the opening of a conference for black church leaders. I think the congregation expected the 40 year anniversary to be a congratulatory celebration. But the priest who gave the sermon quickly challenged the group, which had chosen the saying “No trouble at the water” for the week’s slogan.

“What do you mean, no trouble at the water?” he shouted. What changes if there is no trouble to be dealt with, he asked. What gets accomplished if there is no trouble to be overcome?

When goals are accomplished, we run the risk of losing sight of the original mission. We run the risk of becoming complacent and self-congratulatory. The priest set forth a challenge - to rise above the contentment of success and to work like there’s as much to be done as there was when the organization began.

I thought it was fitting that Rhonda (one of our newest riders) said to me tonight that she believes we live in a time when everyone's afraid of their situation. Sometimes, she thinks, the best thing to do is to go out and give part of yourself anyway. It helps you let go of your fears.

It will be a challenge for all of us riders to continue the work of the Fuller Center when we leave the bike trip and return to the accelerated pace of "normal" life. It's not just spreading the word about a housing ministry and swinging a hammer once in a while that we will be charged with remembering to do. We must strive to live the life that the Fuller Center's mission exemplifies and calls for: We must take care of our brothers and sisters in all realms of life. 

If I can recall my college philosophy class correctly, Plato and Aristotle both wrote that true happiness is achieved only when you can serve others without any desire to receive something in return. That even includes satisfaction. It is our duty to help others, and when we get wrapped up in our crowded, material worlds and our petty disagreements, it can be so easy to forget our simple charge to love one another. 

- Katherine

[ Because those posts haven't been written yet, I must say that we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Millard and Linda Fuller, Kirk and his family and all of the Fuller Center Americus staff for their hospitality, food, fun and inspiring moments this weekend. We hope to make you all proud! ]

Monday, August 4, 2008

12 Days of Cycling

On the ninth day of cycling I had to replace 9 packs of bagels, 8 tubs of cream cheese, 7 loaves of bread, 6 jars of peanut butter, 5 honey bears, 4 brake pad inserts, 3 Kenda tires, 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

Day 49 - If anyone is still counting

Today was unique. Only our third “day off” – no biking and no building. And the only time we will have two non-biking days in a row – tomorrow is a build day. Tomorrow will be the only time we spend a third night in the same place.

But for a day off, the schedule surely was full. At 8:30 am we headed from Americus to Plains to Maranatha Baptist Church to hear Jimmy Carter teach Sunday School followed by the Sunday Service and then a group picture with the former President. This was the third time for me, so some of the newness and awe has worn off. I hope some of the first-timers will express their feelings in future blog entries. I find it amazing that Plains has remained pretty much a typical rural small town like so many we’ve seen across the country. Roslyn Carter sat right behind us, but had to leave early to prepare food for a family reunion. Millard Fuller joined us here and later for lunch.

We returned to First Presbyterian Church in Americus for a delicious lunch of chicken chili prepared by Tom McFarland, Millar Fuller’s former law partner. Desert was a scrumptious peach cobbler with ice cream. Mmmmmmmmm.

Early afternoon was spent by some at Kirk and Corey Lyman-Barner’s house. We enjoyed swimming in their pool while Nate, Corey and others prepared a delicious Thai Peanut Chicken and two Key Lime pies for the next event.

For dinner we all drove 10 miles to Koinonia Farm for their Sunday evening potluck. Koinonia Farm is an intentional Christian community started by Clarence Jordan in the 1940’s. It was here that Millard Fuller and Jordan had many discussions from which Habitat for Humanity was born.

Tony, Mary and Ryan made a visit to David and Ellie Castle, the “elders” of Koinonia at their home nearby. David is suffering from lung and bone cancer, but is remarkably good spirits. He’s working on a book of daily devotions. Tomorrow he starts chemo-therapy. Please keep him in your prayers.

For those of you expecting statistics from me, here goes:

Total miles biked today: 0

Total flats today: 0

12 Days of Cycling

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.

On the sixth day of cycling I had to replace 6 jars of peanut butter, 5 honey bears, 4 brake pad inserts, 3 Kenda tires, 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

On the seventh day of cycling I had to replace 7 loaves of bread, 6 jars of peanut butter, 5 honey bears, 4 brake pad inserts, 3 Kenda tires, 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

On the eighth day of cycling I had to replace 8 tubs of cream cheese, 7 loaves of bread, 6 jars of peanut butter, 5 honey bears, 4 brake pad inserts, 3 Kenda tires, 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Home Sweet Home!

From the time we awoke, there was a sense that today would be special. Perhaps it was the absolutely delicious home cooked breakfast prepared by Ruth, Carol, Jack, and Al, or maybe it was because today we knew we would hit the heart of it all at The Fuller Center's home base. Regardless, we all felt an extra spring in our step and joy in our hearts as we hit the road towards our first meeting spot of the day in Plains, Georgia (home of President Carter).

Cusseta Fuller Center is in an extremely rural area, and we like to refer to them as "the little Covenant Partner that could" because of their success despite the difficulties of building in an area with such few resources. On the way out we rode by the first new home they had built from the ground up and saw that the family had already moved in; such an enormous accomplishment. Even better, they already have lots for their next two houses! Seeing the successes of this ministry propelled us onward with an ever growing sense of excitement.

40 something miles later and at about 11:30, we arrived in Plains and devoured Plains' famous peanut butter ice cream. More significantly, we were joined by perhaps a dozen other riders who came out to join us for the triumphant ride into Americus, including Steve Hale who is starting The Fuller Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Steve is an incredibly energetic, warm, charismatic, and humourous leader who had a special journey of his own by cycling down from Lousiville with his own support van as a separate branch of our Adventure. He stopped in every town through which he rode to hand out a packet of information and gained sponsors by promoting his trek as an opportunity to "sponsor your very own 56 year old fat boy!" Everyone was uplifted by having him join with us, and his ride will doubtless have an effect on communities for many years to come. Check out the website for Steve's trip by clicking here. (On a side note, Steve is no longer such a fat boy, so he might have to change his marketing slogan!)

After meeting all of the new riders in Plains, I shared a few words with the group - including making sure everyone knew what Steve had just accomplished - led our group in prayer, and we hit the road for the home office of The Fuller Center. We re-grouped with a police escort at Grannie's Kitchen, added even more riders, and rolled down the hill towards home. We knew we would have a few people welcome us, but nothing had prepared us for what followed.

No sooner had our now quite large cycling assembly ridden into the street than on our right we saw a family holding up a sign that read "Welcome Ryan and bikers" and heard them blowing a trumpet - talk about a royal welcome! As we neared the Fuller Center, people were literally lined up all along the rail along the road cheering us in! A huge banner reading "Welcome Fuller Center Bike Adventure" hung on the tree and all the people shouted and cheered enthusiastic "Oyee's!" to welcome us in, with Millard and Linda Fuller the first to greet us. (And just think: when I left for the beginning of the ride I brought the Fuller Center office key with me because I thought perhaps no one would be there when we arrived and I would need to let ourselves in!)

Jacob Battle, a Fuller Center board member and owner of Georgia Boy's fruit stand presented me with the biggest peach I've ever seen and the best I've ever eaten, along with peaches for the other riders. Millard, as joyful and inspiring as ever, spoke to thank and praise all of the riders and staff who had helped with making this possible and invited the riders inside to feast on pizza from Pat's Place.

Our celebrity status continued throughout the evening as we did a meet and greet from 5:00-7:00 at the local fair trade coffee shop, Cafe Campesino. More community members came out, including the reporter from the Americus-Times Recorder, and a good time was had by all.

Although I've tried to capture the excitement and joy of the day's events in these few words, I am sure I have failed. One can only truly appreciate or understand the feeling by being there and being a part of it. But hey, Millard mentioned today that we would like to make this an annual ride, so if you missed it today, you might still get your chance next year!

God's grace,


Steve Hale, who asked for sponsors under the slogan, "sponsor your very own 56 year old fat boy" for his ride from Louisville, KY to Americus. Well, Steve, you're still 56 years old but you can no longer refer to yourself as "fat boy"!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

12 Days of Cycling

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.

On the sixth day of cycling I had to replace 6 jars of peanut butter, 5 honey bears, 4 brake pad inserts, 3 Kenda tires, 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

On the seventh day of cycling I had to replace 7 loaves of bread, 6 jars of peanut butter, 5 honey bears, 4 brake pad inserts, 3 Kenda tires, 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.

Friday, August 1, 2008

West Point to Cusetta

Our ride today took us through the winding roads and rolling hills of western Georgia, the official training route of Chris Cosby. With a complete motorcade of Tony driving our truck, Mary his wife driving their motor home, we were a sight to behold. Passing some of the local Fuller Center houses on the way out of town, we then turned on to the hilly and creatively named Lickskillet Rd. While riding through Columbus, GA we were apprehended by the local television reporters who were thrilled to get some action shots of us on the road. Compliments to Kirk Lyman-Barner (the generous man who loaned us his truck) and his son Levi for completing their first day of riding with us…OYEEE!!!! Furthermore, congratulations to the Merchant family for completing another tough day of riding and contributing to the team’s upbeat spirit.

Thank you to Carol Greer, the President of the Fuller Center in Cusseta, GA for generously hosting us in her mother’s home, and for providing us with food and a place to rest our weary heads.

As I conclude my last official Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure blog, I would like to speak on behalf of the entire group in saying that we will miss this adventure. For the past 7 ½ weeks we have truly become like a family working though numerous difficulties together, and relying on one-another to keep riding day after day. Each rider lends a unique aspect to the team and serves to enlarge our cohesive “family.” Though we were but complete strangers eight weeks ago, we now possess a common single fiber, an instinctive desire to wake up early, hit the road, stop and meet loving people, and build homes for those in need.

Katherine being artistic

The Civil War fort located behind Bill Scott's home

Tony bowling a mean strike

Our favorite road name

12 Days of Cycling

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.

On the sixth day of cycling I had to replace 6 jars of peanut butter, 5 honey bears, 4 brake pad inserts, 3 Kenda tires, 2 Mavic wheels and my front de-e-raileur cable.