To be completely honest, I had no idea what to expect coming into this trip. I knew that my fellow riders would be friendly, the bike rides would be challenging, and the builds would be fulfilling.
This week since joining the Fuller Center Bike Adventure on the 8th segment in Aurora, Ohio, I was completely blown out of the water of how welcoming and generous the people were to me. They brought me into their family instantly and threw me right into the daily chores and routines that many of them have been accustomed to for two months.
I think the best example of the routine being mastered is with Suzanne, as she is one of the faster riders, claims one of the better spots where we would sleep each night (typically near an electrical outlet) and seemed to be showered and ready for bed before I have even gotten a chance to catch my breath!
In general, this group is like a well-oiled machine. My first morning after sleeping rather poorly on my air mattress, everyone got up with a sense of urgency and direction that honestly freaked me out a little bit. As a college student, I am certainly not used to waking up at 5 to 6 in the morning, much less getting up the moment my alarm goes off and instantly getting ready for my day ahead, so the morning has definitely been a personal battle.
Apart from that, I was stunned that most of the trailer that hauls our stuff was packed and everyone was ready for breakfast and for the long day ahead.
The rides have not been easy, which is saying it VERY lightly. Before this trip I hadn’t biked more than 50 miles, so when I rode 80 miles this past week through the Pennsylvania countryside, I felt like it was a major accomplishment. My physical, emotional, and even social batteries were all running on empty, while I saw my fellow riders exchanging jokes, setting up dinner, and completing other responsibilities.
I cannot express the amount of respect I have for all of the riders, especially the ones that have been on this trip since the beginning. I was also stunned at how much physical shape many of the riders are, especially for the age, as many of them are in their 60s.
For them, the 80 mile ride was just another day, even an enjoyable ride. Where in comparison I was about to pass out by the end.
The following day when we reached Hamburg, New York, I had to ride in the car after the last rest stop because I didn’t have enough energy to do it. When I am retired, I strive to keep my body active and my mind engaged like my fellow riders.
Additionally, I appreciate how upbeat and committed all of the riders are. Multiple times they have grabbed my plate to clean after I had finished dinner, offered me rich life advice, and have done more practical things like assist with mechanical problems with my bike.
I think this temperament and dedication is reflected by their faith with God and with the mission of the Fuller Center with low-income housing.
No wonder many of these riders keep coming back to do the Fuller Center Bike Adventure: the amount of impact they give to people in need and the selflessness, self-sacrifice, and discipline required to do so is not easily found in the everyday person, but hopefully I can cultivate more of these attributes by the end of the trip and afterward.