Written by: Henry Downes
Well today we are smack dab in the middle of week five–which is smack dab in the middle of summer–and we find ourselves almost exaclty halfway between San Francisco and Savannah. Earlier this afternoon we enjoyed a memorable rest stop at the “Midpoint Café” in Adrian, TX, known far and wide as the midpoint between Chicago and L.A. on Old Route 66. By all indications, we’re making some progress here.
In a lot of ways, it feels like the ride has entered a new chapter this week. We lost some great friends over the weekend, but gained some wonderful new faces. The mountains of the West are officially in our rearview, and we are now enjoying the rolling beauty (and modest elevation gain!) of the Great Plains. And, the prospect of actually completing a coast to coast ride becomes more real with each passing day.
For many of us, going across the United States on a bicycle is not just a physical challenge, but a lifelong goal. It’s the culmination of months, years, maybe even decades of dreaming. For that reason, it’s wonderful to see the sense of accomplishment shared by riders who finish a tough climb or who set a personal record for mileage in one day. And it’s especially fun to see people realize that, yes, they are now closer to the realization of their dream than to its origin.
There’s real, raw emotion packed into these moments and milestones, true. But still, they are only half the story. The other part–the part that is sometimes harder to see and touch–is the concrete impact that our team is having on the lives of families in need all around the world, even as I type this. For all the fun descents and gorgeous mountain passes and heavenly tailwinds, my favorite moments as trip leader this summer have come when I see riders moved to tears upon hearing about a new Fuller Center project being completed somewhere in the world, or when I see riders sharing our mission (with such enthusiasm!) with people who cross our path on the road.
So, as we ramble on toward Savannah in the second half of this ride, my hope is that we keep the full story of the Bike Adventure in the forefront of our minds. We live simply so others can simply live. Our pedal strokes are hammer swings. We are indeed a Bike Adventure, but we are also the Fuller Center. It takes both halves to make this experience and this community whole.