Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The support team ...

2013 is my third summer Fuller Center Bike Adventure. I rode most of the 2011 summer ride, the 2012 spring ride, 2012 East Coast ride and West Coast ride, the spring ride 2013, and now the summer ride. In 2011 I needed the van support to carry me three times. In 2012 I didn’t need to get in the van at all, but this year I was in the van more than I was riding, because of various health issues. After struggling for the first three weeks I left the ride for a planned fishing trip in Alaska with my brother and his family, rejoining the ride 10 days later. While away from the ride I visited my family doctor who told me I needed to take 4-6 weeks off the bike to heal properly, so I decided to drive back to FCBA in my SUV that has 4 bike racks, and help support the riders. 

I’ve been supporting for about two weeks, and we have two weeks left to finish the summer adventure. It has been a great experience! Up and down the ride, protecting riders, picking up tired or disabled riders, staying at the last rest stop to allow the van to get to the church to unload and get ready for showers. I’m not riding, but am feeling very useful.

This year I am 71 years old, and last year I rode a total of 7,402 miles on my bike, 4,200 with the Fuller adventure. Although admittedly not a fast rider, I’m a good, safe rider who has been able to ride without accident, and I know my way around riding, in groups, and especially with the Fuller Adventure.

So having ridden with, and now supporting these riders, I want to try to tell you about these "kids and grandkids" on this adventure. Most of the riders have arrived at the start of FCBA with very little training or even experience on a bike. All kids learn how to ride a bike, but riding a bike across country is quite a different experience. Some riders come with bikes that are not in the best of condition, need some TLC, and many start even needing new tires. Often riders do not "fit" their bikes properly, and I have taught more than one rider how to get on and off a bike. I have talked to many who admitted that on the way to the start, they had to force themselves to continue because of the apprehension of the unknown.

I have watched these “kids” become accomplished bike riders, team leaders, caring team members, and grow into a family unit that I have been blessed to witness and share six times now. I have watched these kids ride their hearts out for a cause greater than themselves. I have seen them cry at what they perceive as failure, cry at accomplishing what they thought was impossible, and cry for the families that we help along the way. I admit, I have cried with them. Today I was shedding tears of joy as I watched Melissa reach the summit of a climb that was over 10 miles long with a constant grade of between 7% and 8% which came about mile 72 of a 91 mile ride. She was struggling, not sure she could make it, but so proud that she did. Yesterday I was blessed to watch a new rider, Dottie, ride 106 miles her first day, almost all of it uphill, having ridden no more than 50 miles before. I have been blessed to witness the joy of accomplishment on so many faces that I can't begin to count. Many of the riders enjoy the advantage of youth to help do what seems impossible, and I have been blessed to have witnessed these feats. It’s so great to watch new riders with about 100 miles of training before starting on a 9 week ride that averages 75 miles per day, riding the entire distance, and literally jumping for joy at the finish. I was so proud to witness my son teach his 14 year old daughter on the spring ride this year, how to mud, hammer, use a saw a chisel, etc., and have her ask what else she could do to help on the build site.

I have also witnessed the faith these kids possess. They know the bible, they know how to pray, and they have been blessed with the desire to help people less fortunate. Alex came to me when I was feeling bad about not being able to ride, asked if he could pray for me, and proceeded to do so. They have given of themselves days, weeks, months, and years in service to others. They have become my heroes as I watch them struggle to reach goals that seem impossible. Not all of them reach every summit, but they are all out here trying, serving their Savior, as they serve others.

Peace ...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Riding again ...

My car as an additional support vehicle has been put to good use. I feel a strong part of the ride because I feel useful as extra support. Of course I’ve been disappointed at the lack of biking, but feel good about my support role, and have been getting good feedback and appreciation from the riders, so I’m all good with it! I’ve been able to drive up and down the line, helping to supply food, water, and electrolytes, as well as picking up riders who have hit the wall, have a nagging injury, or a bike has failed with double flats, failed tire, or mechanical trouble of some sort. The last couple of days I’ve supported at the last van stop by letting the van leave while I stayed to support the last 4-8 riders. This allows the luggage to arrive at the church earlier, get unloaded, and have us prepared for showers or whatever, much sooner. Seems to smooth out the operation a little.
After another 4 days supporting with my car I was finally on the bike again today. It. Felt. Great! I averaged 16.1 MPH on this short ride day of only 38 miles. A group of us stopped short of the first van stop to hike about 30 yards to enjoy a great view of a beautiful gorge.

Following today’s short bike day we took showers at the local swimming pool, and most of us went in the pool for a while also. Yesterday I had a one-on-one basketball challenge with Melissa and she beat me (although she did step on my foot as she went around me to score her basket). Today we had a swimming race, and I beat her to get even.

Chocolate malt today: 7.5

Peace … 

P.S. … catch up!
The halibut I brought back from Alaska was a big success! The cooks did a great job of preparing the fish a couple different ways, and it was delicious. A few said that it was the best meal of the trip. We were even able to invite our hosts in for a bite of fish.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Twin Falls, ID

It’s working well to use my SUV as a second support vehicle. Tomorrow, however, I think I’ll bike 20 or 40 miles. 

As you can see, I’ve got a new bike to ride!
And, Alex, as you can plainly see, is apparently king of the ride today.

No malts to rate lately (sigh). 

Peace …

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The support role ...

I arrived back on the adventure the yesterday evening, meeting the group in Craig, CO. Some of the fish I caught in Alaska had been flown back with my nephew Brad, so I stopped briefly at his house to pick up the halibut. We are settled in Dinosaur, CO and the FCBA ‘chefs’ are preparing the fish for our dinner tonight as I am writing this blog.

My doctor told me yesterday morning that if stay off the saddle for 4-6 weeks, my saddle sores may heal enough for me to ride again. So, I’m driving my SUV as a second support vehicle. I told Melissa I would take the first day myself to get a feel for how it would work with the group, and she will alternate with me driving as second support.

Lindsey joined the adventure last week while I was gone, and a couple days later she got sick with a stomach bug, and Carol was sick with the same thing.  I have room to carry four bikes on my car, so we started the ride to Dinosaur with my bike on top, and Lindsey’s and Carol's bikes on the back rack. We took off and I stopped to buy some yogurt for Carol, and then caught up with the riders at the first rest stop. On the way to the next stop I found Mark and Susan working on a flat tire, so I stopped behind them, providing a bit more safety to them while they worked on the flat. At the second stop Lindsey decided she felt well enough to ride, so I pulled her bike, and she was ready to go. 

After the sweeps arrived and left, I took off ahead of the van, passed all the riders, and decided to stop at 10 miles out primarily to be there for Lindsey, in case she found herself not well enough once she started to ride. I happened to stop near the top of a hill and got out as the riders approached me to cheer them up the hill. As it turned out, Lindsey was ok, but Nicole’s knee was hurting, so she joined me in the car. I loaded her bike, and after the sweeps passed we continued to the 60 mile stop. Our next stop was only 15 miles ahead, leaving about 12 miles to finish the day. At the last stop, Lindsey was feeling bad, so she got in the air conditioned car to cool off and rest. When Melissa and the sweeps came in, she was through for the day, also feeling bad, so she put her bike in the trailer (since I had four bikes on my car) and got in the car to cool off. 
Without the support of my car with bike racks, we would have had to stack the bikes, one on top of the other in the trailer, which is difficult, and hard on the bikes, and gets the Therm-a-Rests black from bike chain oil (we try to protect the bikes by putting the ‘mattresses’ between the bikes). So instead of 5 bikes stacked in the trailer, we only had one, which made me feel good about the entire day in my new support role.

The downside to the day was when I jumped on my bike after settling in, and rode three blocks to get ice cream. After about three pedal strokes my sores immediately started hurting. So, I am now finished complaining about that area of my anatomy, and I’ll let my three readers assume from now on the reason I will be riding short distances, if any, is because of the saddle sores. 

Had a great malt tonight, with a rating of 9! It got extra points because the closed shop was opened for the six of us as we drove up in the car. People are great.

Peace ...

Friday, July 5, 2013

Packed ...

Enjoyed a 9.5 chocolate malt yesterday at a local old fashioned soda fountain parlor! This has definitely been the trip for some good quality malts. I also scored a Chicago hot dog -- yummy.

Yesterday was a pleasant morning for riding before the crosswind started blowing us around. I was prepared to stop the van the first time it passed me because I didn’t think I could stay on my saddle longer than a few miles, but I made 60 miles. At the 60 mile stop I was too uncomfortable so I rode in the van the last 32 miles. 

Seemed a little strange to be in Canadian, TX celebrating July 4th. Our cooking chore group made an excellent spaghetti dinner, so we ate well. There were a few fireworks last night, but I didn’t watch. Guess I’ve seen too many fireworks in my long life to appreciate them and go “ahhhh” (besides, sleep was calling!).

This morning was to be my last day of biking before flying home tomorrow, but I boxed my bike up last night so I wouldn’t be stressed out tonight trying to get the bike and myself ready for that early flight out of Liberal, KS. One day home, then I fly to Alaska to fish with John, Hillary, and Brad. I’ll be joining FCBA again in Craig, CO July 15 for at last part of the build day. And, hopefully I can arrive with some fish to share for dinner. Today is another 90 plus day on the bike so I will ‘suffer’ in the van an entire day with Nadine. 

Blog will continue when I return to the bike adventure.

Peace ...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A long, short ride ...

In my past blog I forgot to mention Carol, who I almost met early in our ride, when I gave her a FCBA business card at a stop light. I had just got to her car when the light changed, and I had to pedal away. She drove straight and we turned. The neat thing about this very brief encounter is that when I got to our stop and looked at my email, she had already been to my blog and left a message. (My blog address is on the back of the FCBA cards I had printed.) I have handed out many cards, but I never know if anyone actually goes to my blog or to the FCBA site and looks at what we are doing. So this response was kinda special, and I invited her to our build site in Craig, CO. Turns out she is an author, and I look forward to reading one of her newest books when this adventure is over.

Today turned out to be a long, short ride -- a comment made by two or three other riders. We had some head winds, lots of rolling hills, and gravel road for a few miles at the start. In addition, we had highway maintenance (or rather lack of) with unintentional speed bumps (one hole repair across the road was at least 4 inches high for no reason). Add to that another day with a sore bottom, and it made for what seemed like a long day, when it should have been a short refreshing day of only 47 miles. Very difficult to get into the ride when you are in pain just sitting on the saddle. I hope that I am not complaining about the bottom for the next 5 weeks. Maybe special parts of me will heal with the upcoming time off fishing in Alaska!

Saw two birds of prey today, but they are a little bashful here in Oklahoma, as they flew off when I stopped to get my camera out. I’ve seen a few others over the last 4 weeks, but mostly I’ve seen vultures soaring overhead as we bike. Seems like a mixture of black and turkey vultures, but I’m not really sure. I know the last week or so they’ve been turkey vultures.

We’re at a new covenant partner stop here in Elk City. We arrived about noon (most riders way before that), and the local president didn’t expect us that early. He was planning to provide dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow for us, but when we arrived he went across the street and got the makings for lunch for us. It was a nice gesture on his part to get us lunch as well...we meet the nicest folks! 

We are doing a presentation for him tonight after dinner; our presentations give us a chance to tell complete strangers about our lives and how we got involved with the Fuller Center, and what it means to us as individuals. It’s always a neat experience, and as we progress on our journey, more and more riders are stepping up to talk.

Seems I’m needing more naps on this trip than ever before. The ‘kids’ always seem to nap and still sleep all night, which has been working for me as well. Enjoyed an hour’s nap this afternoon, but I made sure to set my alarm so I wouldn’t miss dinner (the ‘kids’ had to wake me the other day before dinner!).

Peace ...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rode strong … almost ...

First, on our work day yesterday in Moore, OK, we split into two groups. One group went on site and spent all day clearing the debris from one house to get a clean slab. The other group (‘Just’ Kurt, ‘Smart’ Kert, and me) worked at a warehouse at one of the churches, making pallets of goods stored in the gymnasium, and transferring them to outside storage bins. A long, hard day’s work for both groups. 

When we were all at the host church the local covenant partner's president, who is also a police chaplain, met us and briefed us on the situation in Oklahoma City. We had already seen some of the damage as we rode our bikes to the church, and seeing the destruction in person was almost overwhelming. Television coverage cannot begin to show the scope of the loss of life, disruption to lives, and effect on this community and the entire city. The good news is the complete outpouring of help that the American people always give. There was so much being donated that it overwhelmed the churches and community that were receiving it, storing it, and trying to get it to the people in need. Just a beautiful example of the generosity and love that pours out of the people of this great country.

Our second and third nights in Oklahoma City were spent at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in historic downtown Brickyard. A very generous arrangement from the hotel, a first for me on these trips. We stayed 3 or 4 to a room, so in our room one person slept on the floor, but it was great to have showers and towels to use, and of course pillows and beds! The breakfast was a luxury I didn’t mind paying for, but the one downside was we were all scattered about, and it’s hard to plan things together that way. Additionally, we had to pay for our own food, except for breakfast on the day we left. With all of us in one room trying to get cereal and bagels eaten, get cleaned and packed up and out on our bikes in a reasonable time, the place was a bit hectic. But, we did it, and it’s all part of the adventure.

Tonight we each have our own room in the dormitory of SWOSU. We went down the street to make our own creative dinner, which was quite good, if you know what quinoa is, and like it. Surprise, surprise: I ate it, along with some chicken and a make-believe salad. 

So, after a hard day of work yesterday in the warehouse and on site, we were back on our bikes again today for a 73-mile ride to Weatherford, OK, along some back roads, as well as on old historic Route 66. I was riding a strong first 40 miles, averaging 13.9 MPH, and really enjoyed riding again. I slowed down the last 30 miles to about 12.8 MPH, and started to have saddle problems again. I was able to tolerate the saddle, but it’s hard to ride strong with a sore bottom. 

However, today was by far my best ride of this adventure. I was riding with Kristi primarily, as well as with Nicole. They are both just a delight to be traveling and riding with. Kristi and I were teasing each other a lot, especially when we started going up and down a number of hills. The hills were not long, but were decent 6% grades. Kristi was not feeling too well (claimed she ate too much candy the night before) so I was able to pass her going uphill, but she would come storming downhill, passing me up. I would catch her going up again, and on and on it went. As I passed her going up, I would gently encourage her with comments like, "Attack, old lady," and she would be hollering (and growling) at me as she stormed down. For my ‘encouragement’ I even earned an obscene gesture from this fine, upstanding, pleasant young woman (the highlight of my day of fun). Kristi is a stronger rider than I, so she was being a bit kind to me riding today. Nicole, on the other hand, is one of the riders I can still keep up with when I’m able to ride. She’s also a little more reserved, but is a delight to be with, and of course I tease her as much as possible. 

We had so much fun on the ride I just had to treat them both to chocolate malts. We found malts made the way they used to be made when we stopped at Lucille's Roadhouse about 3 miles from the end of the ride. I gave a generous rating of 9.5 to my chocolate malt, influenced by the atmosphere of Rt 66.

Had a second chocolate malt at a chain called Braum's. They have a big ice cream cone as a sign on their building. That malt earned a good solid 9.0 rating.

And so to bed, at almost 10pm. We’ll enjoy a late 6:30 breakfast tomorrow, as we have a short 57-mile ride to Elk City.

Peace ...