Written by: Kristin Lillie, Blue Ride
Let the good times roll, literally. As we venture through Iowa, the fields of corn are abundant and the hills are forever rolling. It is an exciting week in Iowa as it is the annual RAGBRAI (bike ride across Iowa) and our route happens to overlap with parts of it. Today, I was pedaling along and was focusing on the small bit of shoulder I had while listening for the sound of a school bus rolling up on the road beside me. The RAGBRAI team buses are painted and decorated with the team name and have a deck on top where the bikes are stored. It’s the little things that got me through the ride today, such as laughing at the different team names and even being invited to hop onto the back of the pace line of“ Team Awesomeness”, who was decked out in an array of neon colors. It proved to be quite difficult to maintain their pace but it was nonetheless entertaining while it lasted. Along the RAGBRAI route, I also spotted a sign that said: “monster cookies are awaiting your arrival”. I was desperately searching for an address or an arrow but unfortunately didn’t have luck there.
I will admit that each morning I really do look forward to getting on my bike. I have found that the initial nerves of feeling comfortable while riding my bike in a group have faded and I just wholeheartedly love riding with my FCBA family. The build days are my favorite part and it as we pedal to reach a new destination, there is a deeper meaning. When the riding gets tough, I like to remind myself that I am on the way to help more people and then it just seems to get easier.
Personally, today was a different kind of ride day. I was excited to ride but just couldn’t quiet my mind and at times the only thing I could do was pray and keep pedaling. I tried to stick with a group but couldn’t find my happy place there, so I spent some time riding alone. Fortunately, I found the positive in having a ride day like today and know that I am becoming stronger in so many ways over the course of this summer adventure. Lately, I have tried to practice replacing negative thoughts with what I am grateful for. It is truly amazing how much we have to be grateful for and how changing your mindset can make such a big difference.
I am beyond grateful for the change of pace that this summer has provided for my typical busy lifestyle (and I am sure for many others as well). I know that in a few weeks it will be back to reality (even though I try to avoid thinking about this) but am also thinking how each rider can carry FCBA with them and make a difference in their local community as well as spread the word about the Fuller Center. A FCBA veteran also told me “once you join, you are forever family”, what a happy thought.
I want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us, said extra prayers, extended words of encouragement, and followed our progress throughout this journey. I have been renewed seeing the goodness in people who are willing to open their doors and hearts to provide us a place to stay, a shower after each ride, or a meal to eat. The people I have met along the way often ask me why I chose to participate in the Fuller Center Bike Adventure. I explain the mission of the Fuller Center and how it has impacted my life over the past weeks. I think they can tell through the smiles and excitement that I wouldn’t want to spend my summer any other way.