Sunday, March 18, 2012

Last day riding....

The riding is over. As beautiful as the Trace was, scenery and riding surface, the Jackson streets were just terrible. A mountain bike with front and back shocks would have helped. But, we were on Jackson streets for only about 15 miles, and on the Trace for 385 miles, so a nice trade off.

Half of the Jackson ride got us to the capitol building for pictures and relief that it was almost over. This was a lot of riding for this early in the season with not much time to train or to get in any saddle time so our butts would be ready. But, that's part of the adventure.

The ride today was just beautiful. A nice refreshing morning, and sunny for the remainder of the day. A nice 9 person pace line that we all could manage, and I rode with Bob a lot today. A huge, beautiful reservoir was waiting for us near the end of our ride. The wind was blowing off the water against us, but not bad, and worth it to get the beautiful view.

We had a nice early chicken dinner with potato salad and beans. Some of the greedy "rush to the showers first folks" had nice cold showers, no hot water. Just part of the adventure. However, most of us found out later that in the other building they had hot water showers. My hot shower was much better, but I did enjoy hearing the loud noises coming out of the cold showers.

Then we took off for a reception at Tougaloo College, with Dr. Beverly Wade Hogan, the current President of the college leading a reception line with about 10 or 12 faculty members greeting and welcoming us. If I have the history right, when Millard Fuller was giving away all of his wealth before starting Habitat for Humanity, Tougaloo College was a recipient of a lot of that wealth, and they wanted us to come to this reception as a token of appreciation. The college continues a relationship with The Fuller Center. The history of this college dates back to about 1869 and the educating of freed slaves. It was also very involved in the civil rights movement. I would like to go back and see the campus in daylight and get a tour and history lesson about this school.

I had my nails done again this year!!! and had a lot of fun showing them off at the reception. Hailey, with me in the picture, is the nail painter/artist, and is a lot of fun to have on the bike adventure with us. It's a little hard to see the drawing of the bike on my thumbs; the fingers read: F C B A  2012, for Fuller Center Bike Adventure in 2012.

On the steps of the capitol in Jackson, MS, we're all tired, but have only about 6 more miles to bike to the church.

An early start this morning for Allen to get me to the airport for my flight home, followed by a couple of uneventful plane rides (always a good thing), and now I'm back home safe.

Next, I have to get that pesky kidney stone removed Thursday and get right back on the bike to get ready for the start of the East Coast ride on May 25.

 Just so my sweetheart knows I love her as much as I love my bike.

All photos courtesy Nathan Slabaugh


Friday, March 16, 2012

One more day....

Another very nice ride today, with sunny, comfortable weather, bordering on warm. As I left Houston, the first five miles I was feeling exhilarated with the beauty and wonder of life while riding with new and old friends. Then as I was riding along going thru some ups and downs of energy levels, I began wondering why the entire ride can't be as exhilarating? Especially the last five miles, because my butt was hurting and all I was doing was hoping the church could be closer. But then I see the steeple, and the exhilaration of reaching our destination replaces the pain in the numb butt, and it is another great ride completed.

We have a much older group for this ride, but I am still having fun playing the geezer as the oldest rider. Driving over to Nashville to start this ride, I was tracked down by phone by a reporter to do an interview. Since then I think I have done at least 3 more interviews, and last night Jonas, Ray and I had fun talking to the congregation which was quite large. I often tease about riding with my "kids" and "grandkids", but as my three readers know, my son Matthew is riding with us, and I am hoping that his daughter will be interested soon in joining the ride. She needs to be a little older, but needs to hurry, because I am not getting any younger. Three generations riding for The Fuller Center would be really special.

We have been riding through pollen for the last couple of days, and noticing some yellow on our arms. But today at the third rest stop, it was warmer, so Tony poured water over his head to cool off, and somebody comments on the flow of water on the ground from his head, which is running yellow from the pollen he had collected while riding the last few hours. Just something else to talk about while we wait for pizza to be delivered.

Maranda had another flat today, and as I slowed down to see what the party was about, I find 5 or 6 guys helping her change the flat tire. Now, how many guys does it take to help change a tire? Oh yeah, a pretty girl needs help--I remember now. Lois, I just rode on by.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Build day....

A great day building. We traveled to Water Valley, MS today to work on five houses. For the house I helped on we built a handicapped ramp for a lady who has been stuck in her house for two years, unable to get off her porch. We also scraped and painted her entire front porch. Others helped with a handicapped ramp at another site; another group was helped replace a roof; and  other groups worked on other projects. A fabulous day of helping and giving of our talents to folks in need.

We were fed a nice bar-b-q lunch, and then a fabulous dinner at the Methodist church in Water Valley. Here I met and had a nice talk with the lady below, whom I challenged to be ready to ride the Trace with us next year. She accepted the challenge, and I told her I was taking her picture to document her acceptance. She mentioned something about losing some weight, and being ready when we come back. I thought she looked great, but I failed to get her name. I am so bad.

It was a little over an hour's drive to the work site, and I had a delightful talk with Dr. Tom on the way back. It was fun sharing our family stories, and family values with him.

I'm still not a lot of help on the work sites, but felt better about helping today. Jeffrey was very patient with me, explaining about the ramp and and why it was being built the way it was. At least this year the shoulder is doing much better, so I could lift and fetch more. It's still difficult for this old body, while I'm riding a lot, to get my legs to work well enough to be able to bend down, or actually get down on the ground to even help with simple things. Oh well, we all do what we can, the best we can.

Back on the bike tomorrow for a restful 76 miles to Kosciusko, MS.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day four riding....

Another great day, smaller pace line, but I was still riding fairly well. I was, however, glad it was a short 48 mile day. I'm just not used to this kind of mileage yet. I needed to have many more hours in the saddle before the adventure began.

We got to the church early, and waited a short time for the church to be opened. A group of us walked a few short blocks to a restaurant for lunch and had nice fellowship together. Much easier talking across a table than on the bikes. Tonight there was a group of Mennonites sharing dinner with us, as well as the congregation. I counted about 100 people at dinner, with plenty of food for all.

During the church service with the entire group, The Fuller Center was responsible for the "preaching" part of the service. Allen showed a video explaining who we are and what we do, talked about Millard and Linda Fuller and how they got started, which is always inspirational. Then Allen called on Jonas, Ray, and me to talk about how we got involved. Jonas and Ray were great, and they said I did good also.

Hailey showed up today, and Ryan left. I got a big hug from Hailey and caught up on what she has been doing since last summer. I am so privileged to know this fine young lady. Right after riding last summer she took off for missionary work in China. After four months there, she started working for The Fuller Center and ended up in Peru, where she met Anne, so I got information about her. Then Hailey caught me up on Sarah, who helped her move to Americus to start working there.

One of the benefits of this ride is that my tan lines are coming back. This year I had promised myself that I was going to use sunscreen much more than I did in the past. So, of course, when I started using it I realized the bottle's almost empty.

Work day tomorrow, then two more days of riding, both days over 70 miles. I'll need to pace myself for those two days.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day three riding....

Started out in a misty precipitation, but this was absolutely one of the best rides I have ever done. After getting on the Trace, I got in a pace line with the best people ever. The macho men let Ray lead our pace line all the way to the first rest stop at 25 miles. Ray was followed by Jonas, Kyle, then me, with Turbo Tom joining us shortly. These are four of the best kids I could ever hope to know--oops, Turbo would have to qualify as an adult since he is only 7 years younger than I. Unfortunately Kyle developed a knee problem and had to drop out.

After the rest stop we started again. I can't remember when Matthew joined us, but I think it was before the rest stop. We stopped at both state lines for a photo op, and I'll post my pictures when I get home. We rode together for another 25 miles to the next rest stop.

We kind of split after the second rest stop, but I was still with Ray a lot until the last rest stop. Then I took off by myself, and was still riding very well, surprising since I've done very little training. A number of miles down the road Jonas and Turbo caught me and passed, leaving me by myself again. I still had them in my sights, but they were riding too strong for me to keep up. Then they disappeared; I suddenly could not see them anymore. It turns out they broke off at one of the overview stopping places. So I was by myself again (it's a good thing I'm good company for myself). Still in a zone, and moving well. Eventually, I see some riders back a ways, gaining on me. Not many hills here, so they are having some trouble catching me. Eventually they do catch up, and it's Jonas and Turbo again, and being the polite riders they are, they let me stay in front so I could pull them along. About 2 miles from the end of the Trace, and about 4 miles from our church, and I was fading fast. Jonas realized this and pulled in the lead with Turbo to help pull me home.

It's especially nice to be doing this ride with my son Matthew, and just great for him to slow down and ride with our group. We keep getting teased by some of the others about our relationship; Maranda tonight asking Matthew if he has told us about all the goofy things he did growing up. Of course I had to tell them about a call we got from Matthew's band director, something about his getting sick from drinking wine coolers. Lots of fun.

I wish I could adequately describe what it's like to travel with friends on a bike, wheels sometimes only a couple inches apart, traveling at speeds of 16 to 20 MPH, mile after mile. And everybody is comfortable. We are all helping each other, and at the same time helping families in need of affordable housing. We are in a mutual zone, just enjoying the ride, being with each other, and staying within ourselves, all at the same time.

88 miles and 6 1/2 hours in the saddle of my best ride ever. Just short of being in trouble from the exertion, but feeling terrific from the ride. Then a bus ride to a private home for showers, another very simple and delicious dinner, writing this post, and heading to bed very soon, because now I'm really tired.

We are staying at the First Baptist Church in Saltillo, MS. A short day of only 50 miles tomorrow, then on Thursday a build day--that's what this is all about.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Catch up....

Our first riding day, and everything went smoothly. Breakfast went off nicely, even a birthday cake for Jonas. Then we sat around waiting for Sunday school which we were scheduled to attend. We surprised them with a sea of bright orange, and we had a nice interaction with their class. We had to wait again because the media was scheduled to witness the send off celebration. The media never showed, but Ryan managed to get the minister next door tell us about the problems in the Congo where he is from. Ryan had just spent time over there with a Fuller project, so we had a very enlightening talk from this minister. Then we had to wait again for the streamlined broadcast time to start which went off well, but was probably not very interesting to watch. Finally about 12:30 we were riding, which meant that we were very late getting to our first stop on this adventure.

A very nice ride to Shady Grove Methodist Church yesterday in Duck River, TN (near Williamsport). This is a very small church in the middle of nowhere. Their minister preaches in three churches, one after the other, on Sunday mornings. Shady Grove has about 40 to 50 members each Sunday and size for size, they were by far the best stop we have made of all stops all last year. Bigger churches did more, all churches were great, but this small church with limited resources was terrific. More food than we all could eat, and they gave us all the leftovers and had food for us to prepare breakfast for ourselves. They also took up a collection that was extremely generous for such a small congregation. The only problem was no cell signals, so I could not communicate.

We had some rain over night, and some in the morning, but not too bad, so we were able to get packed and off. However, as soon as we were riding it started raining again, and rained until about the last 15 miles or so. No storms, but a lot of light rain, mixed with some heavier rain. Turbo Tom and I were the sweeps for our second day of riding. The riders In this spring break adventure have as diverse a riding ability as you could imagine. Two guys simply blast their way thru the entire day, and are way too fast for the van to keep them supplied. The issue is partly because those two are so fast, and also because at the other end are some slower riders. It made riding sweep a bit boring, but for my second day of riding 50 plus miles I did not mind. Also it was fun riding with my friend Turbo, from last year.

Bob and I are fairly well matched, he is a little stronger than I, but we had a nice time riding a lot of the way yesterday together. Also Joyce, a relative of Bob and Jean, rode a lot with us. Lois asked me today how Matthew was doing. I told her I had no idea, but would ask him at dinner later. Matthew is one of the stronger riders, with one or two riders appearing stronger than he.

Another great reception at the Collinwood United Methodist Church tonight. And we even have cell service here. They transported us for showers at various places, and what a fabulous dinner spread. Following dinner we had a solo performance of singing and guitar playing, which was very inspirational. Then Ryan gave a nice presentation with video, and we all introduced ourselves. A very supportive congregation.

Tomorrow we head for Saltillo, MS, which will be about an 88 mile ride, and a challenge for me. The last two days, at over 50 each, were my longest of the year. Now I have 88 tomorrow. I need to find a way to hook onto one of these faster riders and let them pull me. I wonder if they would notice? Maybe I should volunteer to sweep again so I can take my time. The problem with that is that I am in the saddle much longer than I would like, so my butt hurts more. And, I don't want to ride too long; I could be late for dinner.


Saturday, March 10, 2012


An update on Thursday: it was much more pleasant driving in to KC than it was pedaling in last year when my bike computer registered well over 100 degrees. 

Friday: up and driving at 6am after spending a very nice evening with JD and Judy, in their beautiful home. What a nice couple and a great dinner. A big thanks to them as we now witness a beautiful sunrise on the road to Nashville.

Arrived Nashville and it was great seeing my buddies from last year; hugs all around when we got to the church. Fun meeting all the new riders, and now trying to remember their names. Then, when we all put our helmets and sunglasses on everybody looks different, so we have to learn names with the different look. If it wasn't so much fun, I would just go home! But then I would not be helping people that need homes worked on.

A great practice ride today, only 12 miles, but a good way to get to know how we work as a group riding together. Four of us rode to a bike shop after our practice ride today. Matthew forgot his water bottles, and I forgot my butt butter and some Clif Bars I had set aside.

So....the adventure has started. Nice orientation sessions today, and tomorrow the riding begins, as we head to Williamsport, about a 56 mile ride. Even after six weeks of this adventure last year, the hardest part still seems to be getting organized. Pictures from today are posted on my Facebook page. More later.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Last year....

Some people make the world extra special just by being in it.

Why are we on this planet? What are we here for? We live in the good old US of A, and are fortunate to be able to make our own significant choices in our lives. We can even make choices that affect other people, good or bad! 

The kids (actually, young adults, and a few older folks) I traveled with on The Fuller Bike Adventure last summer made the choice in their lives to help people less fortunate than they. They figured out one of the main reasons we are here! They chose to do this by riding bicycles across the entire country, 3,600 miles. Do you know how hard it is to ride an average of 75 miles per day 5 or 6 days a week for 9 weeks? Let me tell you these kids are tough. They did that with joy in their hearts and only an occasional tear in their eyes. They did it by making it a fun adventure, except maybe for the couple of mountain passes that crept in. Most did it with very little training, and one delightful young lady signed up not even owning a bike; a small reason for a couple of tears. They did it loving each other and with the love for all people in their hearts.

At one time I wanted to join the Peace Corps. One of the main reasons I never signed on was because I don’t make friends with bugs easily, and all I could picture in the places needing help was bugs. So my desire to serve in such a setting got put on the back burner while I struggled with college and jobs and raising a family--until last year, when I accidentally found The Fuller Center. While stationed with the Air Force in Alaska, I almost rode my bike down the ALCAN Highway to the lower 48, but didn't think I could make it fast enough, or carry enough spare tubes to get to my next assignment on time, but I did spend lots of time on my bike. Lately my son Matthew blogged about our planning to ride our bikes from Austin to Florida to visit my parents when he was much younger. I had completely forgotten about that, but trust his memory. It’s obvious his memory is better than mine. I'm not even sure what I had for breakfast this morning; oh yeah, nothing yet.

Just some thoughts as we start our second day of travel to this year’s adventure with The Fuller Center.


On the road....

Written yesterday forgot to post:

We are now on our way to The Spring Ride. Matthew, Bob, and I are traveling in Bob's RV to Nashville. Bob has a nice rig, except traveling at 65 mph in a tall vehicle, with some wind, might just make me seasick. We will be staying with an army buddy of Bob's tonight, and then roll into Nashville in time to meet the other 25 riders tomorrow evening. I am excited to get back with nine of the riders I rode with on last summer's adventure. A great group!

A minor setback. I spent all day yesterday chasing after doctors when I should have been home packing. Seems I have a rather large kidney stone trying to interfere with my Spring Ride. I managed to talk the urologist into waiting until after the ride to remove it, but I had to cancel the bike riding back from Nashville to Denver that Bob and I were planning to do together, alternating between biking and driving. I also had to book a flight back, so now Bob will drive home by himself. I just need the stone to stay in place so I can enjoy this adventure.

I'm becoming famous...? I got an email from Joe Doolittle, a reporter with The Oxford Eagle in Oxford, MS, who interviewed me over the phone. It turns out he just graduated and this is his first professional assignment. He did a great job and I wish him well.

Here's a nice article written about this old geezer, posted on The Fuller web site:


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sparce Riding....

Training is going more ways than one. I'm having trouble getting out, and when I do get out, I'm slow! Weather has been a problem and at this time of year the wind at over 30 mph is still my friend but  continues to be a challenge! Yesterday we had wind speeds of 52 mph and gusts up to 72 mph. I stayed inside. I did manage to get 104 miles in last week, so I am getting some training in, but way to little. At this rate I will not even have my butt saddle ready, let alone my legs and lungs. So it looks like I will be using the Spring Ride, and ride home, as a great start to training for both coasts.

Only a week until I leave for the Spring Break Fuller Center ride. I will be traveling in an RV with my friend Bob and my son Matthew, who are both participating in the ride. After this one week ride I'll travel back home with Bob, and he and I will take turns riding our bike and driving the RV, so we'll each ride our bike half the distance back home or about 600 miles each. That will give us about 1,000 miles riding for March. Both coasts will total 3,600 miles, and I have a goal of about 8,000 miles for 2012. That may be a steep goal for me, but without getting hurt, reachable?

I must focus on raising money to help the families in need, and of course for me to be able to ride. I need to raise the $1.00 per mile to keep me on the road helping to raise awareness, helping with the builds that are scheduled, and meeting great people. I'll soon be sending out emails to all who helped me last year, and to anyone else I can think of. We have a sponsor for the spring ride, so every dollar raised for that ride goes directly to families in need of affordable housing. Remember, we help people, we do not give  handouts. They pay for all materiels, and supply their own labor for their home and so many hours helping others people with their homes.

Should you wish to help at this time my donate button is on the right, just below my picture with my bike, or just click here:

Please help if you can, and believe in our mission. By donating you are not only helping me to be able to ride; the funds go to the people in need.

The Fuller Center has asked the spring riders to record a short video about riding with The Fuller Center; here is the link they posted of my video on Facebook:

Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure
Meet Tom! A veteran rider who's looking forward to an amazing summer! #endpovertyhousing