Accomplishing the goal of riding across the country
July 21, 2022

By Daryl Olson

Today we rode from Newton Falls, New York to Lake Placid, a 65.2 mile ride with 3,455 feet of elevation gain. I believe almost everyone has probably heard of Lake Placid because of the 1980 winter Olympics, which were centered at this location.

There are still massive Olympic training facilities located in the area. The town of Lake Placid is hopping today because this weekend they are hosting an Iron Man event with many bikes and athletes on display. Having ridden my bike most of the way across the country and being just over a week from finishing I’m starting to believe I might actually complete this ride.

Riding with the Fuller Center is certainly a fast-paced adventure.  On average one could say that about 20 riders have been involved at any one time in this year’s cross-country from Seaside to Sebago. Riders generally sleep on church floors and eat potlucks provided by the churches. The generosity of the churches is what makes it possible for the Fuller Center to keep expenses very low so that about 97% of funds raised by the cyclists go to fund many low-income housing projects. So, for anyone who likes to ride a bike it is a huge win-win proposition.

So, what have I learned in the last couple of months? It is much different than riding alone to accomplish a goal of riding across the country. It is about placing myself in a situation outside of my comfort zone, working hard with little personal time, living a communal existence by sleeping in the same room, and often using two bathrooms or one or two showers between 20 others. It is about the stress of packing in 30 minutes each morning, eating quickly, completing chores, while bumping elbows with 20 other people at the same time. The communal existence is every bit as much a challenge for me as the bike ride!

One of my concerns of being retired was living a life in a narrow existence where my comfort zone would shrink and shrink. Instead, I decided to challenge myself, as life is so very short. Forcing a life of adversity does draw us closer to knowing God, knowing ourselves, and increasing our ability to love others. So, this trip has been a win-win for me as I have advanced in those areas, as well as completing a great physical task that I can be proud of and have donations totaling $6,070 to charity. 

I do so very much miss my lovely wife and family as it becomes obvious these are most important. I know that learning and growing never end so I anticipate perhaps other challenging events, eventually these events may become a mean game of bingo, but not this day! Carpe diem.

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