Monday, March 31, 2014

A recap...

It seems to get harder and harder for me to blog regularly as the years riding with The Fuller Center mount up, but here’s a bit of a recap for the spring adventure.

Over the past three years I have been talking to my geezer friends here in “geezerville” about Fuller Center and the bike adventures. This year Bob and Joe both joined up and rode. It was fun having them along, getting to know them a bit more, although I did not ride with them much, as they are stronger riders.

Thursday was one of my better build days. We made a production line for building steps for homes that would be permanently placed in a neighborhood badly in need of decent housing. I was teamed up with my good buddy Kurt, ripping about 80 risers, and another 20 top steps. We made a good team, and were able to teach Harper how to run the table saw also. She learned quickly and was very safety conscience. Matthew also taught Harper how to use a Skilsaw. Special times with son and granddaughter. Will Judah be ready and willing to join us next year? Maybe we could get a family rate?

I managed to get some good riding days in on this spring ride: 75 miles Friday, and another 61 miles on our last day of riding Saturday. On the first leg of the Saturday ride I was fortunate to be able to get in another pace line on flat roads, so I was not dropped. We had a double line of riders, with up to 14 riders, 7 in each line. We would ride about 2 miles and the lead two riders would peel off together, and drop to the back of the line, while the next two would take over pulling. We must have ridden 15 miles or more with these two lines continuing to work together. It was a total blast!! And, we were fortunate that Melissa and Ryan were sweeping, and totally fortunate that the police did not see us riding this way, since it’s not quite legal, and not Fuller approved. We also had very little traffic in either direction, and Ellis was following in his car, protecting us from the few cars that came up behind us. I think the passing cars enjoyed seeing us riding as much as we enjoyed riding. 

It was especially fun when Kurt, on his fat bike, joined us. Seeing this oddball (the bike) in the middle of the mix of road bikes was a bit unusual. Matthew had been riding ahead to catch up with Harper who had taken off with the lead group, and we finally pulled them both in, so It was more fun to have her experience this type of riding. All in all, one of my best rides ever. Not necessarily best day ever, as my rear was dragging on the last leg of the ride. 

Speaking of rears, NO BLISTERS so far this year, after taking about 14 weeks off, and then only riding 15 and 20 miles at a time to try to ease back into the saddle. Yea!!! This meant however, that with so little training (about 150 miles total this year) I was not able to ride the entire day on a couple of the longer days. But that was ok, because we ride as a team, and the other riders pulled for me.

One morning near the end of the ride, 86 year old John walked by me and said, “morning, geezerman”. That just made my day.

During one segment riding with Matthew and Harper we came to yet another hill to climb, and I said, “my mind wants to attack this hill, but my legs say, ‘ha ha ha’ ”. Harper responded, “maybe you should negotiate”. Food for thought about life (from a teenager!!!).

On Saturday we had a police escort (as we did last year) from the Trace to Tougaloo College, our last stop. One of President Hogan’s assistants joined us for this three mile ride. We gave her a Fuller orange shirt, and she joined John to lead us to the college. Some good natured teasing took place when she wasn’t able to keep up with John (86 yrs old), so the Rivers brothers got on either side of her and helped push her along. She said she would be better prepared next year.

Sunday we were up for early 5:30 breakfast, and it was cold and rainy again. We had packed all the bikes yesterday after the ride, so we took just a fast breakfast after loading the gear in the trailer and rented vans, and headed back to Nashville.

This summer I will be joining again for our ride from Atlantic City, NJ to Astoria, OR, at 72 years of age. I will try to ride a little of this adventure, but I have signed up as the second support vehicle for this 9 week journey. So, I will be driving my van to help support the faster and slower riders, allowing the Fuller van and trailer to maintain the 20 mile rest stops for the bulk of the riders. This worked out well last year when I joined the second half of the summer with my vehicle, and I’m looking forward to the summer adventure by supporting rather than riding.

However, I do plan to ride through my hometown of Chicago, and I’m looking for friends and relatives to join me for that day (or days) of the adventure. Special invitations to go out soon.


Monday, March 17, 2014

The adventure has started … again!

This will be my fourth year, 7th ride, and I have slept on church floors over 170 times. It’s well worth the simple living, and ‘sacrifices’ to comfort, because we’re helping families in need, meeting great people along the way, making friends, and bonding with fellow riders. 

During orientation last Saturday we met 38 fellow participants, learned names, then learned names again as we were in helmets, sunglasses, and bundled up in riding gear. Another great group of people to get to know. Weather cooperated and the practice ride went fine; a short 11 miles just to get to know how people ride together, making for a safer group.

Sunday we enjoyed a nice introduction and fellowship with Holy Lutheran Trinity Church. Then we packed, dressed for biking and were off down the Nachez Trace Parkway, on the way to Jackson, MS, to arrive next Saturday. This was a short ride day of about 37 miles, but we had rain with temperatures around 43 or 44 the whole way. So we arrived at the church thoroughly wet and cold. This was our third stay with the best small church, Shady Grove Methodist, I have experienced in my three years of riding. No disrespect to any of the other great churches we have stayed at, but Shady Grove has a Sunday attendance of about 30 people, and more than half of them showed up to great, meet, welcome and feed us dinner and breakfast. Their mission starts at the exterior doors of their church.

Today we rode about 55 miles to Collinwood United Methodist Church, another church hosting for the third year in a row. No rain today, but  temperature showed 28F for the first leg of the ride. Finally got over freezing after the second stop, and it warmed up all the way to 39F when I rode up to the church. In my opinion the cold can be dealt with if the proper gear is worn, and the rain can be dealt with if the proper gear is worn. Temperatures like today, with rain, make for very difficult riding. So we were lucky, and so glad we’re not home being couch potatoes. I just love it.