Ride Across America | Fuller Center Bike Adventure
The Fuller Center for Housing, founded by Millard and Linda Fuller, is a non-profit ecumenical Christian organization devoted to an unrelenting quest to provide adequate shelter for all people in need worldwide. Our mission is to build a better world by cycling to end poverty housing.
It’s been a week since we met in Seattle to commence our FCBA Seattle to Washington D.C. cross-country bike ride. Most of the 35 support staff and riders had never before met, and for many, this was their first FCBA Ride. There was apprehension in the air with many wondering if their cycling training was sufficient, whether they would fit in with the group, would they make friends, and perhaps other fears I haven’t yet recognized; and this is my 5th Ride with FCBA. And yes, after four rides, I still have many of these fears.
I believe many of these fears have subsided in this first week. We all know each other’s name, for the most part, and we can now turn our attention to really learning about each other. This is just part of the process as strangers from all over the country and Great Britain, become part of their new FCBA Family. We ride, eat, sleep, and talk like any other biological family. I mentioned to my riding partner this afternoon during the ride we have cycled together for 9-weeks in the last two years, and by the end of this S2DC ride, we will have had 17-weeks of 24/7 of interaction.
The bottom line is we are becoming family!
Today’s 90-mile ride from Spokane to Kellogg was the best day yet. This ride should have satisfied the hill climbers with 2700’ ascent, those that like cooler temperatures—my Garmin showed 81°F max vs. up to 100+° the last several days, and all of us just loved the gorgeous scenery. While Spokane scenery was nice, the Coeur d’Alenes Trail that we rode from Plummer to Kellogg was indescribable. It offered at least 3 miles of 3% grade descent, some wildlife sightings of coyotes and waterfowl, and a crossing over Lake Coeur d’Alene. This should be, if not already, on a cyclist bucket list of ‘must rides’.
This is my 7th ride with the FCBA. Last year was the first time that I was not an all-the-way rider. Since I did not join the group at the start of the ride, I had some reservations about joining a group of riders that had been working together as a team for a month, but whatever apprehensions I had quickly disappeared.
The one thing I missed most last year was participating in a build day since there were none on the segments I rode. This year I was initially only going to ride the first 4 segments, but looking at the itinerary I saw that there were no build days until segment 7. I knew that I wanted to include some build days in this year’s ride so I reworked my original plan and extended the number of segments to include at least one build day.
I get great satisfaction in being able to combine my passion for cycling with giving back to the community and changing lives. I would encourage anyone who is reading this and has not joined the FCBA to highly consider doing so in the future.
I was struggling to find an interesting topic for our blog tonight. Honestly, I am a little tired and a little sore from today’s ride with heat approaching and possibly exceeding 100 degrees. Well, my topic is the generosity of others. I have been riding with the Fuller Center for 3 years. In my first year, I was amazed at how churches and communities would open up their doors to help us on our mission. You know what, I was getting used to it and less appreciative as the rides go on. Taking it for granted. But today finally snapped me back into the wonder of people and their generosity.
Almost on a whim, we sent one of our team on a mission to find pie and ice cream after dinner. What we go twas an eye opening to the blessings provided to us. Knocking at the window of Apple Bistro, a restaurant that had just closed for the day, we were let in. Asking for pie with the credit card at the ready, the proprietor gave us three pies and five gallons of ice cream at no charge. This amazed me but was just one more gift afforded us, gifts I had gotten used to and taken for granted. Something special happened that snapped me back to the awe of generosity afforded The Fuller Center and our Mission.
Just before 9 p.m. tonight, the proprietors, Jeannette and Willie Waldo, dropped by the church we are staying at. We were all shocked and thankful when they offered us breakfast in the morning. These wonderful folks, that we had only met briefly, showed us kindness and generosity beyond expectation. The Lord surely works in mysterious ways.
After two intense rides, today’s ride went by like a breeze. We left the cozy church in Wilbur early in the morning and cruised up and down hills along Route 2. A tailwind boosted our speed and our confidence at the beginning of the day.
At our second rest stop, many riders enjoyed a huckleberry milkshake from a local diner. Huckleberries are regional to the northwest, and a milkshake provided an extra boost of energy! Fellowship with other riders and the support team as we drank our milkshakes and ate other snacks was part of the fun.
The end of today’s ride brought us into Spokane, which was our first urban ride since Seattle. We readjusted to navigating lots of turns and found our way to Opportunity Presbyterian Church.We’ll have lots of time to rest before a long ride tomorrow!
If yesterday was a great challenge, today was a beast! It didn’t take long to warm up as the temperature reached the 90s with very few clouds.
We had a nice ride through parts of Wenatchee and enjoyed views of the orchard-filled valley and Columbia river. The route took us through a beautiful park with trails. At one point a barricade was in place stating that the path was closed. Rather than trying to find an alternate path, we promptly jumped the barricade and handed each other our bikes. A groundsman was on the path and called law enforcement to report us. As we came out on the other side of the forbidden path a park ranger had his siren lights on and threatened to fine us. Elliott sweet talked us out of a fine by pulling the “charity organization” card. Thanks Elliott!
Soon after we came to Pine Canyon which was a beautiful rocky, winding canyon with a small stream flowing with some greenery around it. From the start of the canyon to Waterville we gained over 2000 feet in 10 miles. Highway 2 turned into something that looked like a view out of the midwest, with rolling hills and wheat fields as far as you can see. The road was nicely paved with swept shoulders, which made for a smooth ride. After the 2nd rest stop we enjoyed a long downhill followed by a beautiful, sprawling gorge with scenery out of southern Utah. The next hill took us up another steep hill and then more rolling farm land. We passed an espresso shop after passing Banks Lake (which cooled the temp considerably). A few of us indulged in a milkshake (Jeff got peach which reminded him of home).
When we arrived at the Community Presbyterian church in Wilbur, we were graciously welcomed with a terrific meal and warm, loving community members. They even gave us a big bag of quarters to take showers at the local campground. The people here stayed to chat with us and hear stories about some of the projects that the Fuller Center is undertaking.
Several people sagged at various points today but everyone gave an incredible effort on today’s challenging ride.
After a few days of riding to warm us up, today was the first great challenge! After leaving one of our favorite places, Skykomish, we immediately start climbing up to Steven’s Pass. It starts gradual at first, but it doesn’t get easier until you reach the top, which for us was around mile 16.5. The total climb brings us from around 1,000 feet of elevation to 4,061 feet, but it feels higher! It’s a ski resort at the top, after all.
The climb is slow and arduous, but as long as you keep moving forward eventually you’ll get there. It’s an intense challenge for a group of volunteers on bicycles from around the country — after all, many of them don’t live anywhere near a mountain to train on. I’m amazed at how well the group did, all but a couple made it to the top with nothing but the power of the pedal.
What followed was a gorgeous descent on a beautiful summer day, following the green rushing Wenatchee River for mile and miles. One of my favorite moments is seeing the bright red ripe cherries right next to us on the swaying trees as we arrived into Sunnyslope, because the sweet and juicy Ranier cherries are definitely one of my favorite parts of Washington.
The start of our rides is always the hardest — the complications of arrivals, the abundance of information during orientation, the new group dynamics and bonding, the nervous energy, our bodies still needing to get conditioned, etc. If today was any test — and it was a pretty intense one — this group is off to a good start and going to do just fine. And best of all, so many of them are already passionate about the Fuller Center and making a difference not only through their fundraising, but also through their relationships back home and even starting Fuller Centers there!
So great to join the team this week for its early challenges, always one of the highlights of my year!
Today we arose to a delicious breakfast provided by John, and elder at the Woodinville Unitarian Universalistic Church. My favorite was a crockpot full of steel-cut oatmeal and raisins. What a wonderful way to start our day!
At our devotion Ryan shared the Rag Man story, written by Walter Wangerin. This always touches our hearts and helps us to understand our mission of changing lives as we cycle across the country.
We started our day with a challenging climb followed by a beautiful downhill. We rounded a curve on a country road and saw beautiful Mt. Rainier in the distance. It was a day of incredible views, which only got more beautiful as the day went on and we drew toward the Cascade Mountains. After our first snack stop we climbed a long hill, with grades as steep as 13%, followed by a joyous downhill on a curving wooded road. Soon after reaching the bottom we arrived at our second snack stop, which was near a rushing river.
We cycled through the beautiful town of Index and followed the river through the gorgeous Sky Valley until we came to the beautiful town of Skykomish. With incredible generosity, school superintendent Thomas Jay invited us all to his daughter’s 6th birthday party, held at a park a mile from the village. This park is in a valley along the Skykomish River. Thomas, his wife Lena and their older daughter Rebekah teamed up with Jennifer and David Childs, Ashley Church, and Lynne Kelly to make us a delicious picnic dinner.
We are staying in the gym at the school in Skykomish. It’s a gorgeous old building with 60 students making up grades preschool through 12. We heard of the challenges of living in this rugged land, including a school that was flattened by an avalanche (fortunately, on a weekend) and a highway that was washed away soon after Jennifer and David drove across it.
Each time a community takes us in and feeds us, it allows us to devote more money to our mission of giving people a hand up to a simple, decent home. We’ll always be grateful to the kind people who open their hearts to us along our journey.
I’m sure there are as many motivations to participate in the Fuller Center Bike Adventure as there are riders who participate. For me, I’ve found the reasons I joined my first ride—the reasons I keep coming back— have changed the more I experience the work of the Fuller Center for Housing first hand.
I initially signed up for my first Fuller Center ride because it was a great way to combine my love of cycling with the opportunity to go out and help others with my effort. Everyone is all too familiar with the problem of homelessness, not just in the United States but around the world. As a fundraising event, the Bike Adventure would allow me to leverage my contacts with family and friends to make a contribution, however small, to fighting that problem. Through the support of my family and friends, I was able to make OUR first foray into fighting poverty housing.
The warm fuzzy I got from knowing the money I raised was great, but was eclipsed by the end of my first week of riding by the two build days I got to participate in during my ride across Washington. A day in Spokane preparing a site for a proposed “tiny house” community and providing much needed repairs to a house in Kellogg, Idaho gave me the opportunity to pick up a hammer, saw or paintbrush or practice my demolition skills and make a DIRECT contribution to safe and secure house for someone. Being able to stand back at the end of the day and see the contribution our group had made that day made the fund raising part pale in comparison.
The thrill of being being part of a construction/restoration team was great enough that I’ve since been on week long building trips in Haiti and Puerto Rico. The weeklong trip is generally long enough to complete a house someplace like Haiti or restore one here in the United States. Seeing the contrast in the “before” and “after” of the house and knowing because I had been there, we were able to hand the keys over to the owner raised the bar to the max. Being able to convert donations to domiciles is the ultimate excitement
Because of the satisfaction of living the idea of giving, I’ve shifted my focus to not just raising money and building myself. Now, every chance I get, I’m encouraging those same family and friends to join me in the Bike Adventure and building trips. I know they would experience the same satisfaction I get from knowing that although we can’t help everyone, for those we are able to help, it’s life changing.
Washington State is my home; I have struggled through Seattle traffic and looked up at the space needle more times than I can recall. I’ve won and lost too many soccer tournaments with my best friends in local sports complexes. I’ve walked down Pike Place eating french pastries while checking out bouquets enough times you’d think I belong in a romcom. However, today I saw my home from a new perspective. I saw it from the eyes of the 33 Seattle to DC riders, support staff and interns. Eyes that were revisiting and eyes that were seeing Seattle for the first time. Eyes that belong to friends who were strangers to me two days ago. At first I was jealous that everyone was starting out their trip traveling to a new place, as I am very excited to get this opportunity myself, but seeing Seattle from their perspective made me feel as if I were traveling as well. The same streets I have drove on so many times didn’t feel as familiar as they used to. The trees seemed greener, the space needle looked sleeker and from this view Seattle had never looked better. I was glad my home could measure up to the the people cycling through it today. I am also glad to know that if seeing the landmarks I’ve grown up around could be this eye opening then the trip can only go up from here.
I’ve always been a huge fan of photography. Every since I played with my mom’s ginormous 90’s camera as a child, to the time I decided to change my major completely to photojournalism, photography has always led me to new things. I never knew what amazing things, though.
I applied for this internship in awe of what it was, not expecting to even get an email back for an interview. During the said interview, my cat kept biting my feet, so I never expected it to go further. However, here I am, making a blog post in Rancho Cordova, California, after traveling down the coast of Oregon and California (two places I have never been to before). I got to climb a fallen Redwood! It was great.
While sitting in that classroom holding my first professional camera, or sitting under that Christmas tree holding my first small handheld Kodak, I never pictured (haha) photography taking me to these amazing places. The amount of scenery and actions are breathtaking, sometimes to the point where I forget to take a photo at first because I’m overwhelmed by the beauty. I never knew the world was this photogenic!
It’s only week two, but I’ve loved every second of this. The cyclists are great, the rest of the support team is amazing, and the people I’ve met along the way are lovely. I’m seeing a part of the United States I never thought I’d see before while doing something I love. I can’t wait to see what the other 9 weeks have to offer!