2016: Biking over 4,000 miles down the Natchez Trace Parkway (Again), and then from Seattle, WA to Washington D.C. (Again), for The Fuller Center for Affordable Housing. Stopping numerous times along the way to help build affordable houses.
As we end the year 2011, I want to extend a heartfelt Thank You to all those who have helped support The Fuller Center by contributing to my effort to ride across this great country. We stopped seven times along the way to help families in need of affordable housing, and they were all thankful for your generous support
Here are a few pictures of our 2011 bicycle trip.
This is what it is all about; here we are working on a rehab house.
The homeowner struggled to get out of bed to thank us; he now has a safe patio to enjoy.
It is only a ride of 20 miles each day. We just had to repeat the 20 miles 3 to 5 times each day.
The road can get lonely--you need to be good company to yourself.
Ahhhh....the beautiful cornfields.
Then we stop and talk, trying to raise more money for affordable housing
Some days were tougher than others.
Ray and Lady O like each other but are really just trying to stay warm long enough to get the picture taken.
We ran into a few unexpected stops without the sag wagon to snack from.
Not all the action was on bikes.
Before long, we were eating and drinking anything that didn't run away.
After each ride we worked on our bikes.....
or watched a movie.
Jonas, on tall bike, always got second and third looks.
We had photo ops at almost all 14 states plus D.C.
And then it was over....the joy and the tears.
'Mother Krystal' reading a children's story our last night together......
which put our warriors to sleep.
Sign language for "I Love You'....thanks for supporting The Fuller Center
As the year winds down, I find myself putting the weight back on from all the holiday eating, which would not be a problem if I were at least bicycling occasionally. The last time I was on my bike was November 18. Normally I am able to ride more often than that in Colorado, but we have had more snow this year combined with colder temperatures, so the snow is hanging around, and I don't like riding unless the temperature gets up to 39 F. We have had a few days that I should have been riding, but other things, like medical appointments, raptor care and feeding days, shopping days, arthritis days---you know, ordinary life has gotten in the way of those few days I could have ridden. So I am now up to, and a little over, 200# again.
So.......New Year's resolutions come to mind at this time of year. I don't normally actually write down any resolutions, I just put them in my mind to do them. Of course, then if I ever even start them, I never seem to follow thru. However, when I decided to run a marathon (26.2 miles), I researched, and laid out a complete training schedule to accomplish the goal of running that marathon. Deciding to run a marathon is an excellent time to learn goal setting! My goal was to complete a marathon in under 4 hours. I got a calendar and marked down my training schedule for the next 4 months. I missed very few training days preparing for the 10th Annual Dallas White Rock Marathon in 1979. 2,608 runners started, 2,144 finished, and I was the 1,983rd person to finish, which reminded me of my standing in my high school graduating class. Granted, I was not competing with anybody but myself, but I missed my goal, completing my first marathon in about 4 hours 50 minutes and 32.6 seconds...way too far over my 4 hour goal.
My second attempt fell short because of a lingering illness, and I was not able to complete the run in 1980. So, on to the Houston Tenneco Marathon in 1981. This course is a big circle needing two laps to complete. I stopped as I circled around to start my second loop to watch Billy Rodgers win this race in 2:12:19, after stopping at least once with stomach cramps. He was flying, and hardly looked like he was working hard. I was feeling very good for this run, and finished in 3 hours 51 minutes and 19 seconds. I reached my goal, my weight was around 175 lbs, and I was 38 years old. I finished 196th in my age group out of 424. Over 2,400 entered and 1,527 finished.
That was my last marathon. In between bouts with back trouble, I also completed a number of short triathlons. I ended my running "career" with lower back surgery in 1983.
So back to resolutions, which, remember, I do not make. However, I have started working with a yoga instructor, and I am about to interview a couple of trainers to find one to work with to help me get motivated. I have an appointment with a physical therapist to help establish exactly what I can do with this old body to cross train for the upcoming biking season. Of course my summer of 2012 is dedicated to The Fuller Center for Affordable Housing, with the Natchez Trace Spring Ride, the East Coast ride, and finally the West Coast ride.
If you're not bored now, just stay tuned as the new year gets started...it can only get worse.
The spring break ride is from March 10-17. This week-long, 400-mile ride down the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway will allow riders the opportunity to enjoy what ESPN rated as one of America's ten best biking roads while contributing to the eradication of poverty housing. As an added bonus, riders can indulge in a brief hiatus from homework and busy lifestyles as they leisurely wind through the picturesque countryside of Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi.
So, check your calender and get signed up soon. And if for some silly reason you can't ride, we need a volunteer to drive the van with trailer (for the spring break ride, and both coast rides).
Registration is open. You can register now at: www.fullercenter.org/bikeadventure.
Next summer the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure (FCBA) will celebrate its fifth year of involving cyclists from all over the world to help provide families with energy-efficient and affordable homes. We’ll continue to build upon the work we’ve done over the past four years, which includes cycling more than 10,800 miles through 30 states, working on 41 homes, and raising over $500,000 for families in need around the world! We give a hand up, not a hand out.
This summer I rode over 2400 miles for The Fuller Center to help people with their housing. I'm extremely excited about the two routes planned for 2012, which will cover more than 3,600 miles and take riders down the historic East Coast, and then move to the scenic West Coast. The East Coast ride starts in Saco, ME May 25 and ends in Key West, FL, July 1. The West Coast ride starts in Seattle, WA July 13 and ends in San Diego, CA Aug 12.
All cyclists will be serving as Fuller Center ambassadors as we build and renovate Fuller Center homes and speak to church groups, the media and civic organizations. It is an adventure of service and prayer, of creating relationships and raising money, and of building a better world.
Hurry, if you do not sign up, I will be asking you to donate to help me reach my donation goal.
Ok, one more blog by popular request (well, only two actual requests). Someone wanted to know, among other things, if my wife had the locks changed while I was gone. I am happy to report that my key still works, and she had a special getaway planned and ready for my return, which I will not report on, so you can keep reading.
I have been asked a number of times if I have "recovered from the ride." I have had more trouble recovering from NOT riding for 10 days. I shipped my bike Saturday, August 13 and did not get it back to ride until August 23. Ten days and no bicycle! I could not believe how much I missed, and seemed to "need" to be on my bike, going someplace. I did get out to help with the raptors, which I have missed, but it did not replace riding. A bit of depression? The bare bones truth is that I miss all my new friends, and the closeness developed over the last 6 weeks. I just miss them and the challenge of the mind to keep on keeping on, mile after mile!!!!
I did not take many pictures while on this ride, because I am not good enough to ride and take pictures at the same time, like many of the kids were able to do. If I did stop to take a picture I could never catch up, again like the kids could. However, here is a link to the official pictures that were taken by Scott. All you need is the patience to click through them all, but it does show the story of the ride.
It was also 10 days until I was able to weigh myself after the ride was over. I started training in March at 210 lbs, and when I finally weighed in on August 24 I was at 183 lbs. If I could have weighed in Sunday, August 14, I believe I would have been at 180 lbs. Now, the problem is how do I stop eating everything in sight, while NOT riding 75 miles per day? I know it's called will power, but that is in short supply between my two ears, and maintaining my weight has always been a struggle for me. Ok, too boring.
I am very pleased with my ability to participate in this adventure. I was not the fastest rider by a long shot, but I don't think I was ever the last one in either. And of course it was not a race, but a team effort, each of us supporting the other. My body held up better riding than I had a right to expect it to, including my separated shoulder.
So I ended up riding about 2,430 miles in 32 days of riding, for an average of 76 miles per day. I reported in Salt Lake City, UT July 1, and ended the adventure August 14, for a total of 45 days. I missed 19 days and about 1,170 miles of riding because of the van accident. There were 22 riders who went the entire distance, and another 23 who did one or more segments, for a total of about 45 new young friends. There were 31 of us who rode into Washington D.C., plus Scott as media support, and Lisa as van support. A fantabulous team! I just loved it!
So here's a picture of my painted nails with bicycles. I had a lot of fun with orange (Fuller Center color) nails until the ride was over, and I became a civilian again, back to the world of reality, so I quickly cleaned them up.
After all the ceremonies at the Capitol we went to the church, and for the last time unloaded the van and trailer. Then found our sleeping territory and laid claim, again for the last time. Shower next, and the business of taking my bike apart and getting it boxed up, which took most of the afternoon. Off to FedEx. We shipped about 7 boxes to home locations. Dinner on our own, and then a meeting, some game playing, and bed.
One of the things we did was draw names and write something about the person whose name we had drawn. We didn't know who wrote about us, but Krystal read them all, and then we got to keep what was written. Here is what someone wrote about Geezer Tom:
"Now this is a man who can survive anything. A man who has spent more years on earth than the rest of us (combined?), yet has a spirit as youthful as could be. Tom, you have blessed us so much with your presence. We could probably have done without those crazy fingernails of yours, but the rest of you we liked! Even the pink handlebar tape. Come back and join us again sometime. Become the first rider to do a segment in his 70's."
As you can see, I am blessed to have been with a super great group of people.
We had one more gathering. We formed a circle, and Ryan passed a bundle of yarn around. Ryan began by telling what the ride had meant to him. Then each rider took the yarn and told what the ride meant to them. As the yarn was passed across and around, each rider telling their story, the yarn formed a net that symbolized the support we each gave to the other, and to the entire purpose of The Fuller Center. It was a very touching exercise in love. We ended by each rider going around the circle, giving and receiving goodby hugs. Tears, tears, and more tears. And if that were not enough, we still had to see each other off again in the morning when we actually left.
Then finally, bedtime, and with my bike on its way home, no ride to get ready for in the morning. A major letdown.
I stayed in DC until today so that I could go to the Vietnam Memorial, and do some other sightseeing. Since Hailey was also in DC until today she was stuck guiding me around, and having to decide what to see for both of us. Thanks, Hailey.
A while back Ryan had a reading for morning circle of the "Ragman" by Waltter Wangerin, Jr. A powerful reading. Below is the link; worth finding and reading. After Ryan read "Ragman" we passed around a rag, tore off a piece, and tied a piece onto each other's ankle or wrist. I was standing next to Anne and was privileged to have her tie my rag to my left ankle.
And so I have been busy, and am late in posting my blog. A big thanks to my readers, and to the sponsors who helped make it possible for me to participate in this ride.
I am now on my way to Chicago to visit with Joel and Jen. I'll fly home Saturday. So, this adventure finally comes to an end. Until next year?
If anything else comes to mind, I'll post again, but for now back to "normal" living, whatever that is or will become. Have I changed in any meaningful way? I'm not sure, but I know I have been awakened in some good way. Thanks to the "kids."
And the winner is ... people in need of decent housing ...
The ride today was great! Only 42 miles and almost all on trails. The trails were very crowded, so we were constantly calling bike left, bike left, as we passed. We had a sprinkle of rain, but a really nice day and ride.
Rolling into DC was a very emotional experience for me. I was riding sweep because I wanted to be the last rider to finish this ride, since I was the last full time rider to join the ride because of the accident. We swept around the Capitol, and as we reached the steps, we started to ride in a circle for a while, stopping one by one, while the rest of the riders continued to circle. I continued to circle around all of the other riders, watching them celebrate, until I finally joined them. We had stopped about a half mile from the Capitol to regroup so that we could ride in as a large (30 rider) group. We were impressive! Then a long celebration of hugs and tears and cheering for each other. This is such an exceptional group of caring and loving people that I was and am in awe of the entire group.
Linda Fuller was there to pass out medals to all the riders. We were riding as a team, and as a team we all finished. Not all of us rode every single mile, some got sick and missed a day, others may have missed a week, Martha missed a few weeks because of her fall and knee injury, I missed a few weeks rehabbing my shoulder, etc. But we all received a gold medal from Linda for finishing. Then a long session of picture taking, in groups, and individually holding our bikes over our head. Not easy for me, because of the shoulder. Then we slowly started to ride to our final church destination about a half mile away.
We worked at two locations today. One house required painting only, and for the other, we painted inside and replaced an outside deck. I went to the deck house, because I do not like to paint, or work inside. It was again a depressing day for me, since I was not able to help much with the work. I did jump in where I could, and did do some actual staining of the deck. This build was not coordinated very well, as we had to get materials and tools to perform the work. That is usually already at the work site, so we lost some work time running back and forth to Lowe's to pick up stuff.
I did get to meet Linda Fuller, who has remarried. She is a very nice, pleasant lady, as is her new husband.
Big day tomorrow! We will be getting up early and riding to meet at the Capitol steps for a planned event. Linda will also be there to greet us. There is another group of riders also planning to meet on the Capitol steps and we are trying to beat them there! Not sure how that will work as we are having a late dinner tonight at a sports bar. Brian Mitchell, former football star and local radio host, was at both build sites today, and arranged the dinner tonight. He seems like a very nice, caring guy, and is giving us lots of coverage via his show.
And so tomorrow we set off on our last ride for this adventure! Assuming I can finish this 40 mile ride tomorrow I will have ridden about 2,430 miles. I have ridden in the van three times, all because of the weather. Two days I overheated in the sun, and the other was at the top of Berthoud Pass when I got so cold I could not continue, so I missed the fun of riding down from the pass after working so hard to reach the top.
Bike day 31 for me/1 to go
Cumberland, MD to Leesburg, VA 98 miles
Build days done 6/build days left 1 (tomorrow)
Temp 95 F; humidity ok
Body parts talking continued:
As I discovered today the bike must be considered a body part, and the bike computer as well. It must be considered an extension of the body, without which, I can't ride a bike. Duh, I need a bike to ride or the body has nothing to say about riding. Ok, so with a bike that has been serviced by a competent mechanic, you have a beautiful riding experience, and can just hum along feeling great, assuming the body itself is feeling frisky. And so no mental bike problems to overcome. But today the bike was deciding all on its own what gear it wanted to be in. I kept trying to trick the bike by going past the gear I wanted, hoping the bike would choose the one I really wanted. But no, it would then just skip two gears on its own. Now at the same time I have no idea how fast I'm going or how far I have ridden, because the computer has decided to keep turning itself on and off in a random manner. So now I am not only trying to trick my body into performing, but I must also try to trick my mind into ignoring my extended body part, the bike, and try to stay positive. The hardest part for me is overcoming the bike's not performing reasonably properly. Hopefully Jonas can perform a miracle tomorrow and trick my bike into performing well one last time, in spite of the fact that I have not had time to clean it for well over a week.
It was a long 98 miles today. Some riders added a couple of miles to reach another century. I had no need or desire to do that; been there, done that. No good computer readings today, but we had a nice ride out of Cumberland until we started climbing again. Instead of 8% to 10% grades like yesterday, they increased to 10% to 12% grades. A bit of a bigger challenge, and a tough ride for me because of the bike's not performing well. I could get to my granny gears, but it was a struggle most of the time. Somewhere around 50 miles the grades did drop to 6% to 10%, and then down even lower. The last 12 miles or so were a nice long down hill run to the church, similar to yesterday. Again I greatly enjoyed being able to ride this last long ride. A build day tomorrow, and then on to the Capitol steps of D.C. Not sure what's after our event at the Capitol, I'll just have to report Saturday night. On Sunday it's church with the group, then we all go our separate ways.
This morning it was my turn to lead devotions and I spoke on love as it has been demonstrated on this ride as we crossed this wonderful country of ours.
Bike day 30 for me/2 to go
Uniontown, PA to Cumberland, MD 64 miles
Build days done 6/build days left 1
Temp not bad, F; humidity ok
Body parts talking continued:
And then there are the days when all the body parts are feeling frisky, and all working together to create the most wonderful sensation of speed and power while floating along on my bicycle in a pace line or by myself. It makes up for all the struggles, and life on a bicycle is beautiful and marvelous.
Talking about struggles, what a ride today. 50 miles of hills and altitude gain. The hills, one after another at grades between 8% and 10% that seemed to go on forever. And I loved it because I could do it. And I loved it because of the struggle doing it. And I loved it because of the team of riders we have, all doing or trying to do it. We didn't all make it, but we all tried our best, and that was enough. It is always enough.
The longer I have watched the conduct of everybody on this trip, and witnessed their faith, the stronger my faith has become. I have been searching my very being, as I have traveled this bike adventure road, and come to love every one of these riders because of their faith, or their search for it. I mean, have you read Anne's blog on the Fuller Center blog page? It is simply awesome.
This trip is about love, and I will be very sad when this trip ends, but also happy to be going back home to be with my wife of 45 years. We have been separated this long before, and I always miss her. Talk about love, try being with the same women for 45 years, and maybe you will begin to understand what love really means. I continue to find new ways to cherish and love her, even while on this trip.
Bike day 29 for me/3 to go Wheeling, WV to Uniontown, PA 65 miles Build days done 6/build days left 1 Temp ? F; humidity high, and rainy most of day
I am a little slow, but I figured out what is so different about this area: no corn or alfalfa fields. That's what I didn't realize was so different. Duh! Beautiful scenery.
The hills are awesome and were more challenging today. We had a lot of 8 & 9% grades, some getting to 10%, and 11% a brief couple of times. It may be more challenging tomorrow, another short 65 miles as shown on the preliminary list. A very nice morning ride, but then the rains came, and we were all soaked by the last van stop. It was raining hard, so most of us waited out the rain, and about 45 minutes later we set out again, with just about no rain. I used a vest and a rain jacket to try to stay warm when we left, but soon shed them both after a number of miles. Then the rain came again, and back on went the rain jacket, and another stop for protection from the downpour. Then off again, and soon off with the rain jacket again. Finally everyone safe at the church again.
Showers at the YMCA again today. Found an electronic scale, and I finally have my weight down to 185 lbs. A little late as this is the weight I wanted to start the ride at, and finish at about 175-180. Oh well, I am feeling very fit. Somebody called us real athletes the other day at our host church, doing what we are doing, which I had not considered before.
So I've written a little bit about the mental challenge of this ride, and I have figured out one of the problems. It's my body parts talking to my simple brain. It's like when I get on my bike each morning and start peddling, and my quads say, 'What are you doing to me! You want me to do this again? I don't want to, and I will just send pain to your brain until you stop! So there!' Then after about a mile or so they send more pain signals, saying, 'You're still doing this?' Then they finally say, 'Ok, but don't expect much from me'. Then they settle down and I give them a rest at the next van stop. After I have fooled them into thinking we're through, I get back on the bike, and it starts all over again. But, now the butt gets involved also, sending its own pain signals to my poor tired brain. 'What, again? Oh no, take this! If you think the quads can hurt you, how about a few hot spots you have to sit on all day!' Pretty soon the feet, arms, shoulders, and neck all get involved.
Now you're fighting all this negative energy from your own body, without even considering a rough road with lots of potholes, the hot sun, or the rain that is waiting around the next corner, or the fact that you ran out of water about 10 miles ago, and are now dehydrated! It's all a mental game that you are playing with yourself, just trying to get to the next church where you can recover? To do it all over again the next day. And, I JUST LOVE IT! But how to overcome the strong negative feeling that pushes you to get in the van and ride on four wheels to the church with someone else driving? Just entertain yourself with mind games, saying 'I love the hills, especially with a head wind, it makes me a better person! They are my friends!' Rain builds character in each of us and offers special challenges with the road and cars that are harder to see. I won't talk about hail, it just stinks, as do very strong cross winds that can blow you over without warning. OK, just special challenges, that still make us better people, with more to talk about to our grandchildren.
Each pedal stroke will put a nail in a stranger's house to give them a better place to live that they can afford! Now we have 32 riders that have raised a dollar a mile, so in two days of riding we have built a house in Haiti, with money left over. With this trip, the funds we have raised with just the riders' donations at the minimum, we have built a house in the USA, and 15 houses in Haiti. One pedal stroke at a time, as we raise more money and awareness of our mission.
And it is all about love!
These things I command you, that ye love one another. John 15:17 KJV
Bike day 28 for me/4 to go
Cambridge, OH to Wheeling, WV 63 miles
Build days done 6/build days left 1
Temp 90 F; humidity high most of day
Hills, hills and more hills all day today. I loved meeting my friends, the hills. Too bad we didn't have any head winds; I missed them today. Not many pace lines today with all the hills. The hills do seem to separate the riding abilities, and stretch out the group. One of my "granddaughters," Sarah, got slightly injured today when she got hit by a car. Tonight she was constantly calling out "Don't touch my butt," like she is used to people touching her butt all the time, and wanted them to stop tonight. :-)
But, seriously, I am totally amazed with these young people, as they continually try to help me with just about anything. Olivia (Lady O), is especially kind, and always asking, and telling me that if I ever need help to just let her know. Megan, who left this morning, asked me if she could carry my bag downstairs for me. Unfortunately I didn't have it packed all the way, and if careful, I can haul it myself. But all the gestures are really nice, and not just from these two. Any time I have trouble with something, I look around, and call to whomever is close to help me, and they jump right over to help. All are very supportive of me with my injured shoulder.
Poison Ivy! Yuck! It's going through the troops, and spreading on me, so I paid a visit to the medical clinic across the street from the church where we're staying. I got a steroid shot, which the doc said should take care of the problem quickly. Also recommended a cortisone cream to dry up the area. I also got a cream for a bacterial infection in my privates, that my saddle keeps irritating, which the doc also said should clear up quickly. Thank goodness for the medical clinic!
More hills tomorrow leading up to the Appalachian Mountains; maybe we will climb those Wednesday. Today and tomorrow may just be the foothills of the Appalachians, and another shorter day tomorrow I think. Very interesting area we were riding through today. Different somehow from other areas. Too busy climbing to figure out why, but I sure liked what I saw.
Bike day 27 for me/5 to go
Columbus, OH to Cambridge, OH 78 miles
Build days done 6/build days left 1
Temp 95 F; humidity high most of day
We woke up today with everybody using flashlights. The adventure continues, because power had gone out about 3:30, and we woke up sweaty and clammy with no lights. I'm on breakfast corps now, so we had fun with a gas stove cooking eggs which we had prepared last night ready to cook. Did not go too bad; we were just a little later leaving.
Another nice day riding except for the humidity. So many people on the adventure now that the van stops are crowded. I need to stay in front to
beat the crowds to the van. But then we get ahead of the group, and wait for the van to catch up because it has to wait for all the riders and sweeps to clear the van so they can move to the next stop. More challenges for the adventure.
More hills again today, but not very steep, just a lot more of them. Then I had to ride my bike to the YMCA for showers.
Short tonight because I'm behind. Lights out now, and I'm not ready for bed!
Bike day 26 for me/6 to go
Greenville, OH to Columbus, OH 96 miles
Build days done 6/build days left 1
Temp 95 F; humidity not bad
A great day riding again. First 25 miles I rode in a pace line with about 13 riders for most of the time. Chris lead for a while and then took off. I was then second in line behind Jonas (Tall Bike) riding at about 18-20 MPH. After he took his turn for a while he pulled out and went to the back of the line, which left me in the lead. I was able to maintain our pace, but did notice my heart rate increased by about 12-15 BPM, which is just the difference between drafting and leading. After I and a few others dropped back I noticed the speed increased to as much as 22 MPH. We continued the line almost to the first van stop, but when we started climbing a longish incline the line spread out according to climbing ability. Fun, fun, fun!!!
I rode strong to the second van stop also, doing some minor drafting. Then on the way to the third van stop I was riding with three other riders in a nice draft line, when one of the riders caught and passed us. We continued our pace line, and a number of miles later we caught him again and he stayed with us in the back of the line. So we had a nice pace going for a while again, when I decided to take off and push for the next van stop which was coming up soon. I was feeling really good. After I had put some distance between us I noticed that the same rider had also broken away and was trying to catch me. I decided that would not happen before the stop, and I smoked him to the next stop. Jason and the Dragon Killer were already at the stop resting, and saw what happened, and were all nice to me. I told them that I thought it was probably my new nail polish that gave me the power, and also may have made the other rider really want to beat me! Fun, fun, fun, and more fun!!!
So I finished the ride, but not as strong. This old guy can't ride that hard for 96 miles, but still had fun finishing.
We had a great dinner at Kyle's house since he lives in Columbus. His parents were just terrific to have us all over to their house. Kyle rode with us before and had to leave for a job. We also had a bunch of new and past riders join us. We left in the morning with close to 40 riders, which is a record for the Fuller Center rides! A few were also previous segment riders who joined us for the day only. Ryan also rejoined the ride so that he can ride into D.C. with us. Getting all these riders settled with a meeting to greet them made for a long day, and no time for me to blog.
Our build day was easy today. The construction we were to be doing had to be cancelled for various reasons. So, we went to the Fuller Center resale store and spent the morning helping clean out a lot of worthless items that would not sell, some building materials, lots of glass, etc. We filled up two trailers full of stuff, and I was able to be helpful. A good morning, and only one more build day to go in Washington D.C.
I got to play PAC-MAN again! Alyssa had to remind me how to play, and I beat her our first go around, but she came back and almost doubled my score. Darn disrespectful kids!
So today I got my nails polished (in close to Fuller Center orange); Hailey was kind enough to do this for me. She also painted a bicycle design on each thumb. Really cool, except when Allen entered the bathroom, saw my nails, he turned around and left. Hmmmph to him if he can't handle his feminine side. Then he has the nerve to tell me that he has lost all respect for me, just because of my pretty nails. Hmmmph, wait until he sees my tattoo. :o)
Most are sitting around resting up for next week, playing pool, playing games, or packing for another early start. We only have another week, and riders are getting sad about having to say goodbye soon. Alyssa bailed out with her family and took Anne with her so they would both have a bed to sleep in tonight. Both are sad about missing the ride tomorrow.
I need to have a very easy way to record my thoughts for blogging while riding my bike, because when I sit down at night it all will just not come back to me. Maybe by next year I will have it figured out. Official announcement on next year's rides should be on the web tomorrow. We know; you have to wait.
Yesterday: A build day in Indianapolis. We cleared two lots for homes to be built soon. On one of the lots we tore off most of a roof, shingles, and side boards, replaced windows and a door in a back garage. The local affiliate was going to put the roof back on. We ended up filling an entire dumpster with trash, brush, and rotted building material.
Not sure why, but I am having trouble with the build sites, and I was really looking forward to them. A big reason I wanted to start in Salt Lake was because of the build day that week in Craig, CO. But, I am finding myself mostly depressed, and having a difficult time making myself pitch in to help. I know my shoulder is a big part of the problem, and limits greatly what I can do, but it seems more than that. Also could be that I am just tired from the riding, but I am feeling more lazy and depressed than tired. I will just have to try harder tomorrow, because building is what we do! As I find myself standing around watching, I am also noticing how hard others are working. Some with no physical problems are doing less than I am. Others just jump right in and get the job done, working hard all day, and going back to the church filthy dirty. But, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and they usually balance out nicely.
Bike day 25 for me/7 to go
Indianapolis, IN to Greenville, OH 100 miles
Build days done 5/build days left 2 (one tomorrow)
Temp 95 F; humidity not bad
I am close to 2,000 miles on this trip, which puts me at about 4,000 for the year.
Today was a nice ride again. I had trouble with the Garmin locating satellites this morning, so my mileage was off a little, but compensating for that, I think I came in at 100 miles even. The first 25 miles I rode behind Allen (age 22). He was being kind to let me keep up with him, but it allowed me to realize what a very good rider he is. Very smooth, confident, and an extremely solid and steady biker. Very easy and safe to ride with. The second 20 miles I rode with Jonas. He is the Tall Bike, and is always having people stop, stare, and wanting to take pictures. So I get some notoriety just being close to him. So of course I had to tease him when we passed a very good looking blond gal waiting to cross at a light and I noticed him looking at her. I told him I wanted to be blond or to get a tall bike like him so I would be noticed also. He agreed, and then I told him that they both get noticed because they are dumb, (excuse the "dumb blond" reference...just kidding) and I really didn't qualify. The rest of the ride I rode some with a few others, some in a draft line, but a lot by myself.
Lisa came up to me after the ride today, very serious which scared me for a minute, until she started to tell me how much she admired me for what I was able to do riding. I keep trying to play my age card for special considerations; front seat in the van, first in the desert line, etc. But she turned it on me, and told me how impressed she was with my riding these long rides, and coming in still looking good and smiling. I told her that hanging out with all these youngsters had already lowered my age to 60. Lisa said, "Oh, no, you're easily in your 50's." Did she say early 50's? Fooled her!
Jonas noticed a clicking in my rear wheel while I was riding with him that he will check out tomorrow. I also need to put the spare tire I have on my rear wheel. I've been watching it, and now is the time to change it for these last 7 rides. I don't want to be in the mountains with a blow out. The front still looks OK.
Enough for now, but just so you know, I'm having a great time with this adventure.
Trouble publishing last night so now this is yesterday.
Bike day 24 for me/8 to go
Danville, IL to Indianapolis, IN 111 miles
Build days done 4/build days left 3 (one tomorrow)
Temp 103 F; humidity not bad
An adventure in finding our way out of Danville. A great start to a great ride today. We all missed the first turn, had to turn around as a group and get back on track. Then a few miles later the road was closed because a bridge was out and we had to make a detour. Soon I caught up with the group, because they were stopped and trying to figure out which way to go to get back on track. In other words, we were lost, as a group! It was great watching these kids pulling out their GPS phones and figuring out which way to go. These country roads were absolutely terrible (we literally bounced along for probably 5 miles), until we came to a turn that was to put us on a completely loose gravel road. Again the GPS phones came out, and we discovered that the road numbers are a little different because we were crossing over between Illinois and Indiana. So we doubled back a short ways, got on the correct road, and the "lost adventure" was over, and we got back to our 111 mile ride. Time zone changed again, so we lost another hour while riding. This was one of the best times I have had riding, I love riding with the entire group, as a group.
Tonight we were on our own for dinner. Some went to Steak and Shake, some to a pancake house, and some ?? I went with a group to Steak and Shake (chocolate malt!). The kids did not get to eat as much as they normally do, because they had to pay for everything themselves. Poor babies :-( Some will probably go out later for more. I may even go to the pancake house for bacon and eggs (over easy).
Monday I hit the wall at about mile 82. Today, Tuesday, I had a nice 111 mile ride, my longest ride ever. Why? I think, all because I slowed down. Sarah is riding hurt, and hence slow for her, so I latched on to her, and let her set a nice easy 13-15 MPH pace, and I just stayed with her. I tried leading for a while until we came to the van stop, and Sarah told me I was riding too fast. I guess I had kicked it up to 17 and 18 MPH and not realized it. So I just let her lead, and I drafted. Obviously I wanted to ride faster, but I wanted to ride and finish feeling good more than go fast and flame out like yesterday.
I have now been with this core group of whole way riders for over a month, and it is by far the best group of people I have ever been with. Come to think of it, except for the Air Force, I have never been with any group of people this long. Nor have I ever wanted to be with any group of people this long. This is, by far, one of the best experiences of my life, and it just keeps getting better. Hailey, a new rider, secured a couch for me tonight. Unfortunately it was on a floor without a bathroom, so I had to move. But, the thought was there. A few of them still have not learned all the house rules; 1. If you pick it up, you put it down. 2. If you dirty it, you clean it. 3. If you drop it, you pick it up. 4. If you open it, you close it, etc., etc. But, I just love it all. I almost hollered at them for crossing a busy highway, not at the corner light, without their helmets on, but I refrained. Maybe I am mellowing out on this trip. I know I would have hollered at my kids, and especially at my grandkids! Hmmmmm, I should have made them cross at the light.
Great inspirational tape this morning by Millard had me thinking that each pedal stroke I took was like hammering a nail into a new or renovation home. Every mile we ride is another dollar times 28 riders for another home. Today we built a home in Haiti.
Oh yeah, my expert bike mechanic, Jonas, is also an expert doctor. Drying off at the showers tonight he saw me looking at my legs, and he just says, "heat rash!" Humph, I thought, why heat rash? :-) But he told me to just rub Neosporin on it which I will do tonight.
A day off. I went to church with the group and to the presentation we did for the congregation. My friends Laura and Tom came down from the Chicago area, arriving in time to see the presentation. We then went for lunch, topped off with a chocolate malt! It was really nice to have a nice quiet visit with them, and then to show them our campsite in the Catholic high school, with bedrolls and bikes scattered everywhere.
Bike day 23 for me/9 to go
Bloomington, IL to Danville, IL 87 miles
Build days done 4/build days left 3
Temp 105 F; humidity ??
I am in awe of the beauty and power of our farmed fields. I don't have statistics to quote, but it sure looks like we could feed the world on what we produce. Especially if we stop raising so much grain that we inefficiently feed to cattle.
I have not been taking many pictures, partly because I can't seem to get them on this blog. Just working hard on my bike.
I rode sweep today with "The Dragon Slayer," Aaron. We had a few flat tires we had to stop for, and a water stop at a local house. Bob needed to stop and stretch, so when we stopped on the highway, a guy came out of his driveway, saw us and asked if we needed any water. We said yes, and walked back to his very shady front yard to wait for him to bring water. He came back with the water, so we of course told him what we were doing. He got his sister to come out, then got his mother to come out and see us also. We happily posed for pictures with them when they brought their camera. A nice stop.
This ride beat me up today! Not sure why, since I was drinking the same amount of water, but I was riding hard for most of the ride even though we were riding sweep. So, I'm beat!
Somebody scored me a bed today, in a private room. When I got to the church my bag was already claiming a very nice bed. It came in handy because after I iced myself down to cool off from the ride I changed clothes and took a nap. My second "on purpose" nap!
A great day at the build site for a mother and her two boys. We took out windows and replaced them. We tore up the rotted front porch and steps and replaced them. We replaced the front door. We scraped and painted. When we finished we gave the mother the "Greater Blessings" box so she could make interest free payments that she could afford.
We got back to the school, showered, and had four massage therapists waiting for us with free massages. Then a very nice dinner, relax time, and I will be ready for bed. Funny how sleeping on the floor can be referred to as "bed."
Some of the riders needed to go to a bike store for supplies, etc. Martha has been having a lot of trouble with her bike, beyond fixing well enough for her to be able to ride properly. So Jonas was able to help her buy a new bike, and the bike store folks lowered the price to get within her price range. She's outside making friends with her new bike, and probably trying to come up with a name for it. I don't know what it is about women, but they seem to need to name their bikes.
Good friends coming to go to church with us tomorrow, and to take me to lunch. :-) I have not had a chocolate malt for a couple of days so I am ready for that tomorrow also!
Bike day 22 for me/10 to go
Lewistown, IL to Bloomington, IL 80 miles
Build days done 3/build days left 4
Temp 85 F; humidity: raining
We woke up for breakfast at 5 AM, and all went well until breakfast was almost over. Then the lightning started, and the rain soon after. Allen was on the weather watch via smartphone, and we decided to wait out the lightning. So instead of leaving at 6, it was closer to 7:30. The lightning had stopped, but the rain continued until we made our first van stop at mile 22. It was not storming, just a nice light rain, but we were all completely wet, and stayed that way until we reached Bloomington. Actually I thought it was a nice ride all day, except for all the road grime we collected because we were always wet, with no place to dry our hands.
I rode well at times today, keeping up with some of the draft lines, but not able to keep up at other times. Stopped to help with two flat tires today, and I always have trouble getting my knees going for the first mile or two after stopping. Once they warm up again, I am good to go at whatever level I am functioning.
We are staying at the Central Catholic High School until Monday morning. Another build day tomorrow, and a day off on Sunday. We only have a few reasonably short riding days coming up, in the 65 mile range. The rest are all mostly in the 80 and 90 range, and we have six riding days in a row starting August 6, one being billed as 99 miles. I'm betting it turns out to be a century ride (100 miles), which is ok because I have not done one yet this year.
We lose three riders and gain two this weekend. Always sad losing, but also exciting meeting new riders and finding out how they ride.
Bike day 21 for me/11 to go
Quincy, IL to Lewistown, IL 90 miles
Build days done 3/build days left 4
Temp 96 F; humidity ??
Well I guess I lost last night's blog to the Internet "lost and found." Since I don't know how to find it I'll try to do it again.
Thursday: We stopped at a Methodist church camp outside of Lewistown. It was a very nice stop: 6 to a room with our own bed, shower in our room, swimming pool, gym, paddle boat pond, and lots of great food and people to serve it.
Yesterday I felt like Superman riding, today I'm back to mild mannered bike rider. I just could not get my rhythm going, everything seemed to move in slow motion. I was at least 5-7 MPH slower today, and could not keep up with any draft lines.
Since yesterday is already a day old and I can't remember it now, I'll just have to start tomorrow's blog.
Bike day 20 for me/12 to go
Moberly, MO, to Quincy, IL 82 miles
Build days done 3/build days left 4
Temp 103 F; humidity ??
This is a very supportive team, always looking out for each other and offering encouragement. Today I had a number of comments on how well I was riding, which of course made me feel good, because today for me, I was smoking it, and feeling good even with the temp and humidity. About .2 miles from our destination I saw a chalk notice on the city street, stopped and found Aaron and Chris in the ice cream store already. The good news is that Chris was not that far into his root beer float, which means that I was not that far behind him. Good stuff, the float and the ride!
The temp cooled a little as we neared the mighty Mississippi. It was fun riding over on the bridge, stopping in the construction lane and just looking at this wonderful body of water flow by. Overall a nice ride today, even with two hills that were short climbs, but had 13% and 11% grades to them. A couple of tough little climbs.
I took my bike to a local bike shop and had them replace my headset that was catching and causing some erratic steering. This might have even contributed to my little ride into the ditch yesterday.
No nap today, but I did sleep well yesterday after napping for the first time.
Bike day 19 for me/13 to go
Carrollton, MO, to Moberly, MO 62 miles
The temperature has been kinder the last couple of days. I only registered 95 F while riding. However, the humidity has now joined us on our riding adventure. Something else to complain about, but I don't have a humidity reading on my Garmin computer to report on.
I hit a wicked hole on the way out of Carrollton this morning and my water bottle and iPhone went flying. Then I hit another hole and another water bottle went flying. Jonas and Rae were sweeping, and Jonas put me on probation because they were picking up after me. Not sure what the penalty would have been had I lost anything else, but I'm glad I didn't have to find out.
With about 8 miles to go I could not figure out why my rear end (well, my bike's) was acting so funky; I finally figured out I had had my 3rd flat tire of the trip. Alyssa was kind enough to stop and keep me company while I changed it. I found a small piece of glass that I could not even feel on the inside of the tire. Then about a mile farther I somehow managed to lose control of my bike and ended up in the ditch. I asked Alyssa who was following me, but she couldn't tell what happened any more than I could. Maybe just a groove in the concrete? I did keep the tires down, so no harm was done.
Moberly is a very small town, but Chris and Aaron had already found the ice cream place, had their shakes, and were back at the church well before I arrived. Something just not fair about that, but I can't figure out what it is. Maybe just jealously. Probably just jealously. Yeah, I, I'm sure I'm just jealous of their riding ability.
Well I joined the ranks of the wimps this afternoon. I took a nap. Actually fell asleep, and I was not at a ballgame or a movie. I just laid down and napped. I do feel better. But, will I be able to sleep tonight? That is the question.
An 83 mile ride tomorrow, then 89 miles, then 75 miles into Bloomington, IL. I'm riding well, and I am ready!
Bike day 18 for me/14 to go
Kansas City, MO to Carrollton, MO 73 miles
Two days without riding! Nice!
Not because of MY ability, but because I managed to get off to a good start, Chris did not ride today, and I did not to have mark the route; but I was second into the first van stop, about fourth into the second van stop, and then I was actually leading the bike adventure from about mile 45 to mile 55. Again not because of my ability, but because this time Sarah and Olivia were talking too much to bother passing me. Another way to look at it would be that they let me lead so they could draft. Lazy kids, making an old man do all the work. I think I was still about 5th to the church.
Krystal told me that I was now an official veteran rider because I was doing a good job of finding the good spots to sleep, and letting her and Michael know where the sofas were to sleep on. Didn't have the heart to tell her that Chris was the one to tell me, so I could tell them. I think I have finally mastered the art of staying organized in one duffle bag.
This bike ride is all about the people. In Kansas City Graham took some of us that needed bike work to the bike shop that he uses. It is: Biscari Brothers Bicycles, 291 Highway and Withers Rd, Liberty, MO. Dave Biscari opened his shop for us on very short notice, fixed our bikes, and only charged us for parts. Big thank you to the Biscari Brothers and their three shops in the Kansas City, MO area. We have a wonderful bike mechanic, Jonas, but he is limited in shop equipment that is sometimes needed.
Carrollton is a very neat little town. Another warm greeting at the town square, a proclamation read and given to Allen by the mayor, trolley ride to the showers, and free ice cream after. Then naps for these poor tired kids, and a wonderful meal at the host church. Again, it's about the people.
Church services were terrific. Mike and I were picked up by Wayne and taken to a contemporary service where my new friend and fellow geezer Wendel worships. An extremely warm welcome by the entire congregation, with music you just don't find in a Lutheran church. After worship, Wayne asked if we wanted breakfast, and of course we both said yes, so Wayne treated us to breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Eggs over easy, bacon, pancakes, juice; this breakfast is the only meal I've missed. We have had lots of great breakfast meals, but this is my favorite, and my favorite meal of the day.
Wendel invited us to go fishing with him, and Mike accepted. Mike picked up Megan and Jason and they had a good time catching panfish on Wendell's private lake. Another 13 of us went to the baseball game with tickets provided by various members of the congregation. Not sure what the others did. (For Anne's parents: Anne, being too lazy to keep up, went to the ballgame. And she is one great bike rider. She's a terrific person. Someone has done a great job raising this incredible young lady.)
This is build day 2 for me, and build day 3 for the group. We are completely rehabbing a small house for a single mother of 2 who just gained custody of her niece, to make 3 children to care for. We had too many workers today for this size project, but we got a lot done. A group was in the house tearing out some of the floor joists, and replacing or moving others to get them up to 16 inch centers so they would be up to code. We had Leonard Pope of the Kansas City Chiefs (our honorary chairman) and two of his fellow players on the work site making a significant contribution to the efforts today. All three were dirty and sweaty from the hard work they put in. Another example of the fine young people we have in this country. In addition to the work inside, we moved a lot of dirt in the front and back yards to build up next to the house to drain water away from the house rather than into the foundation and crawl space. We also had significant TV and news coverage come to the work site. Celebrity football players sure help in getting the coverage.
In rough estimates I have now ridden about 1,266 miles and I have about 1,164 miles to go. That will give me total mileage for this adventure of 2,430 miles, but 1,200 miles short of the full 3,600 mile trip. Still not too bad for an old guy who doesn't know any better than to hang out with a bunch of young adults. We are also down to only three weeks left until we are in D.C.
There is some talk of cooler weather starting Monday, and I will try hard to not cry if it actually happens.
Tonight we had a very nice dinner, program, and Christian music band. A nice fund raising evening. This Kansas City group is just great.
Bike day 17 for me/15 to go
Lawrence, KS to Kansas City, MO 60 miles
Megan and I rode sweep today. She is a great person, a very good rider, and I had a nice day riding with her. The two riders that sweep always get to go through the dinner line first each night. Megan agreed with me to call Lisa and Scott up to go through the line first. Somehow they seem to be under the impression that they should let the riders all go first, because they worked the hardest. Megan and I want them to know they are a very integral part of this ride, and just as essential as the riders. Without their support we would simply not be able to ride. We are all a team!
A shorter day today at 60 miles. We stopped at the build site as we rode by, as it was only a short distance from our planned route. The house has a crawl space, and needs the floor and joists replaced. It looks like a messy but essential job that needs finishing. We will only be working in the morning for a half day, and it may be a little crowded with all of us there, which will be good for me with this heavy work and my bothersome shoulder.
With only 60 miles to ride, we did not get off to a dark start, but still left about 6:45 AM. The stop at the work site for photos added time to our ride, and we ended up adding another 45 minutes to our ride. But, we are riding to raise awareness for our mission of "No More Shacks", so the short stop is needed and adds value to our ride. Only problem with that is I registered 115 degrees F on my Garmin. Riding through the city for the last 10 miles or so, up and down hills, and roasting while waiting for a light to change, was a real character builder. It was HOT. The good news is that I did well with the conditions and the ride, and was in no danger of bonking.
A gala bash tonight, but the music was so loud that I had to leave. I made instant friends with a local Fuller associate named Wendel. I heard him say at the build site that he was an old geezer, so I had to take immediate exception. Turns out he is older than I, but I'm still the oldest riding with the team. We had to drive to the bash tonight, and I got a ride with Wendel. He said that he would not be staying long, and if I wanted a ride back, he would be glad to take me. I was ready very quickly, and we left early. I mentioned chocolate malt, and he was ready to stop on the way home. A nice ending to the evening with a nice guy.
Bike day 16 for me/16 to go
Manhattan, KS to Lawrence, KS 79 miles
Mostly under 104 F, but I did see 105.5 F on my bike today. Another early start today, but we lost about an hour in Topeka waiting for various TV and newspaper coverage to arrive, do interviews, and film us biking off. While waiting, some were involved in a very serious grape seed spitting contest. In a two out of three contest, I think it was Ivan that came away the winner over Jonas.
Tomorrow we head off to Kansas City, MO, for a build day and a day off. I'm looking forward to both. My body could use the down time away from the bike. I will be one of the sweeps tomorrow, since I finally feel strong enough on the bike to be comfortable sweeping. I believe that Graham has a lot planned for us in KC, so that will add to a nice stop.
Seven of us grabbed a quick shower when we arrived today, and walked across the street and had Chinese food for lunch. Of course a couple of them had a quick plate of whatever we had here first. Chinese food was a nice change from our regular diet.
I am feeling a little bummed again that I didn't start with this group in Seattle. I would really like to have done the entire trip. Next year they are planning two separate rides, one on each coast.
Going to Kansas City, Kansas City here we come .......
Bike day 15 for me/17 to go Clay Center, KS to Manhattan, KS 43 miles
We could have had a nice easy day riding, except for the headwinds. I know that hills and headwinds are my friends, and I was talking to the winds all day, but it would have been nice to talk to somebody else, even a stranger. We left later this morning because of the short distance and still beat most of the heat. A nice short day.
A change in the printed schedule in the tool box. Tomorrow we go to Lawrence, KS, not Topeka. So we have an 80 mile day, not a 58 mile day. Then the next day we ride about 60 miles into Kansas City, MO.
A bunch of us went to a bike shop to look, and also get some work done that needed the facilities of a bike shop. Then some went to a mall, and I went with about 7 others to see the new Harry Potter movie. It was fun, but the movie was only moderately good. Maybe it would have been better if I stayed awake for the whole thing, but the group thought it could have been much better also.
Bike day 14 for me/18 to go
Osborne, KS to Clay Center, KS 93 miles
Well, I did not wilt, I rode sensibly, and I finished. I did start out early in a draft line, but realized they were too strong for me, so I dropped out. We rode in the dark for at least an hour or more, which paid off at the end of the ride, when I showed 104F about 12:30. I finished the ride about 1:00 PM. Not sure what the temperature is now and don't want to go out to see. I took advice from Chris and moved through the van stops as fast as I could, not lingering. I think this probably saved me at least another half hour in the sun.
I’ll have to see if Jonas can adjust my shifting again, the gears are jumping around. His core job on this ride is to help fix bikes to keep them going, which keeps riders out of the van. He's very good with the bikes.
The generation gap was apparent again. The other day some of the riders did not know who John Denver was, and today Elvis was singing and at least two did not know who was singing. They did not know the King! Blasphemy!
Michael and Krystal went down yesterday, because Michael pulled a muscle in his leg. He had it looked at in the hospital, but they only have an MRI machine two days a week, so they could not do anything for him. He has been icing, and resting it, and they did not ride today. He will test ride a bike tonight to see if he can ride tomorrow.
the endless road
alone with God
goes on forever
104 in the shade
alone with God
thoughts to think
alone with self
turkey vultures circle
pray for world peace
pray for no more shacks
pray for loved ones
pray for eternal peace
alone with God
it is enough