Written by: Lindsey Olsen
Growing up in Texas, I never would have imagined passing through five state lines in four days on a bicycle. Today we reached Meriden, Connecticut, our fifth state of the trip since we began riding just four days ago from Portland, Maine. Todays ride consisted of hills, hills, and well…more hills. Coming for a person that enjoys climbing, today was AWESOME. Not only is Connecticut filled with beautiful rolling hills and greenery, but also with the historical parks and quaint buildings.
Today I was focused on riding, and riding hard. This bike adventure is by no means a race, but there is a remarkable satisfaction that comes from competing with oneself, resisting the fatigue, and pushing through with exhausted legs. We had 77 miles today and roughly 5,000 feet of climbing, with rest stops at about every 20 miles. Our trip leader, Connor, mentioned at the second rest stop that the next (third) segment was going to be the toughest; implying that the last (fourth) segment would be somewhat easier in comparison. Well, Connor likes to make stuff up when he doesn’t really know the answers. During that final 19 miles after the last rest stop, I had to dig deep. There was only one other rider in front of me—enough motivation to keep trekking onward and maybe catch up to AJ before the end of the route. That motivation was enough, because I eventually caught him right before our final ascent into Meriden. AJ and I pedaled together up what seemed to be a never-ending hill into the city. I was reminded of the camaraderie that is carried with FCBA, even when neither rider mumbles a word to one another.
Every rider that rode into Meriden First Baptist Church at the end of the day possessed that comparable expression of being completely exhausted, yet triumphant. The church welcomed us with open arms—cooking dinner for us, preparing dessert, and engaging in delightful conversation. Jessica and Connor spoke briefly with the pastor of the Church, Pastor Leon, who has ironically done some work with Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia, one of the roots for Millard and Linda Fuller’s original organization, Habitat for Humanity. Pastor Leon is also affiliated with the Americus Mennonite Fellowship, the same as Connor and Jessica. We are reminded of the Christian community that not only spreads throughout our homes and towns, but throughout the world at large. The work we do reaches those near and far, and it is no coincidence when we cross paths with those of similar backgrounds and stories.
I love biking, but I love the community aspect of FCBA much more. This group is like no other. With a faith based mission and considerable sense of adventure; FCBA is one of a kind. I spent a lot of time on my bike today replaying some of my past memories from earlier rides. I am so grateful for my FCBA family. From the laughs, tears, blood, and sweat—this bike adventure has transformed my life in various ways.