A hugely positive experience
July 24, 2022
Today is our last Sunday of the trip and I’m reflecting on the impending end of our 10 week adventure across the United States.
Yesterday we rode from Lake Placid to Burlington, Vermont, a 63 mile very fast ride down out of the Adirondack Mountains plus a ferry ride across Lake Champlain.
Now that I’m back in New England (as a Rhode Island resident) I’m feeling like I’m ‘coming home,’ which just emphasizes we have five ride days left until we dip our tires in the water in Portland, Maine.
In some ways I’ll be sad when the trip is over. I’ve made new like-minded friends who I’ll miss riding with. Additionally, I’ll miss seeing more of the vast beauty of our country and hearing the stories of the people we meet.
On the other hand, I miss my wife Terry and am looking forward to not having to live communally with 20-25 other people. It’s not that our team is difficult to live with. In fact they are kind, giving, enjoyable people. The challenge is the close living quarters, fast-paced morning schedule and the lack of personal ‘down time.’
This trip has been a hugely positive experience for me, and I expect for almost all my fellow riders. Not only will we have achieved a challenging personal goal, but we have helped provide decent housing to those in need. That makes it most meaningful.
So what’s the top lesson I’ve learned over the past 10 weeks? I have one observation and one lesson.
Observation: As I wrote in an earlier blog, there are many, many generous people across this country who joyfully make personal sacrifices to help others in need – including strangers. We experienced this firsthand many times.
My lesson: I want to put margin in my life so I can be more generous and help those in need. It’s often a small sacrifice for me and can be a significant gift to them.
I got a glimpse of how the small efforts of many people when combined have a significant impact. At our build day in Bonners Ferry, Idaho our team worked on adding a shed to a family’s previously provided Fuller Center house. We had dinner with the family, a single mother with two middle school girls. One of the daughters shared about her accomplishments (sports and student government) and had a fun, engaging personality. I couldn’t help but think that multiple small efforts by many FC people contributed to this young woman’s development. I am excited about the future she has and the impact she may make on the world.
I would be remiss if I didn’t express my gratefulness for those who have made this trip possible for me:
– My wife Terry who encouraged me to take this trip, and who supported me with prayer, and came out to visit me on my birthday, and who managed our house in my absence. Terry, you are the best wife a man could have.
– My donors (I’m tempted to list you but that’s already on my fundraising page). Your generous partnership helped provide materials and was hugely encouraging. I’ve prayed for you many times as I was pedaling across the miles.
– My business partner Jon who led my Vistage group solo while I was away.
– Our Fuller Center volunteer support team: Dan and Cindy – your example of servanthood and healthy marriage taught me important lessons. And Pam – your cheerful smile in the morning and at rest stops brightened my day in even the most challenging times. Our incredible interns Becky, who led photography efforts; and Jessica, who led videography efforts. I’m sure I don’t know a fraction of the work you did. What I do know is you both made the days fun and reminded me of the joy of youth.
– Our Fuller Center staff: Our trip leader Neil, who put in long hours on route planning, bike fixing (I used more than my share of your maintenance skills), and leading our group through the positive and more difficult times.
– My fellow riders. I was a first time FC rider, inexperienced endurance cyclist and novice group rider (you might ask what DID I know!?) yet you welcomed me and included me as a peer. I learned much from you about bicycles and riding, such as how to get on a bike (thanks Tom from Maine) to navigation and group riding communication (thanks Gary and many others).
– Our partner host churches and local FC Covenant Partners. You provided the places to stay, showers and many meals along the way that made donation money go much further.
– Finally, thanks to God who by His grace gave me health, safety, and enabled all of the above to come together.
I expect most other riders would say similar things. So, on their behalf, thank you all!