Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Airport and Departure

March 24th

Airport and departure

I woke up at 4:30, we had a 5:30 breakfast that morning. We had some time to all talk together and reminisce before spending six or so hours in vans and rental cars. When we arrived at the church in Nashville we all said our final goodbyes. There were many long and heartfelt hugs and kind words spoken. I owe Sarah Doren and Sarah Cook a special thanks for delivering my bike and equipment to the UPS store.

 Also Ryan told me to tell Blake that he could hardly hold back his fake tears saying goodbye to everyone this time. Apparently I was the only one going to the airport for a flight or at least the only one going directly to the airport.

(The Sarahs crammed into Sarah Doren’s car which is loaded up with gear and three bikes)
All in all it was a wonderful adventure. I was able to be reunited with good friends and make some new good friends, I was able to help some folks in need of house repair and I was able to spend some quality time on the road with my bike. It’s always awesome going on trips like this with the Fuller Center! I really hope to do a ride again next year!

Kosciusko, MS to Jackson MS

March 23rd 
Kosciusko, MS to Jackson MS

It’s the final day of our adventure and I find myself both really excited and kind of sad. The day started off fairly chilly. Having learned from yesterday’s experiences I tried to dress differently today with hopes of staying warm. I put on two bike jerseys (a trick I picked up from Melissa), a double layer of biking socks and I even put my bike shorts on over my bike pants – as an unexpected benefit I was left with two layers of padding between my bum and the bike seat. I was very comfortable.

The Bike Adventure crew at breakfast on the last day.

A Police Escort actually drove us into to town stopping all the traffic for us as we traveled. We actually had Jack our most senior rider in the lead. Having the police make way for us as we traveled down the street was really cool.

We arrived at the church and brought in all our gear. The showers at the facility were fairly nice and we ate pizza for lunch. I remember taking a brief nap shortly afterwards. Oh and I think I forgot to mention – this place actually has cots to sleep on as well. If you’ve ever been on one of these trips you know that having cots to sleep on are a rare treat.

That night we traveled to Tugaloo College, a historically African-American, private, coeducational, church-related, four-year, liberal arts institution located at the northern edge of Jackson, Mississippi. Tugaloo was one of the beneficiaries of Millard Fuller’s fortune when he was giving away all of his money. He even spent a brief amount of time working there before going on to Kornania Farm.

 We arrived at the house of the President of Tugaloo College and were given a warm welcome. A huge banquet was provided for us and many of the foods described to me were so fancy I couldn’t pronounce them. It was delicious! Tugaloo is really an impressive institution; although small in size they have a very impressive science program and a high rate of sending students to graduate school. President Hogan is very kind and approachable. A few of the students actually came to visit and eat with us as well. Some of them are actually considering doing the ride next year which is awesome.

Houston, MS to Kosciusko MS

March 22nd

Houston, MS to Kosciusko MS [75.3]

I know what you’re thinking – what is Kosciusko? Apparently it’s the name of a Polish general who fought in the revolutionary war. So that clears that up.

This morning I volunteered to do devotions. I used the same one that I read at Kansas City about the cynical feelings I used to have about Fundraising and how God used that to change my heart. I also added a story to it that I learned from Boy Scout Camp that I think ended the devotion in stronger way. I had many people come up to me later and tell me that my devotion spoke to them. I was glad the Lord used my words to encourage others and we all needed some encouragement that morning.

Fortunately Jack let me barrow his jacket for another day, if not I may have turned into a Popsicle. I remember biking out with a group wearing two jackets, my helmet covered with plastic, wearing my biking pants, arm warmers, my handkerchief wrapped tightly around my ears. My hands covered in dishwashing gloves with my bike gloves overtop of them. I even wore a knock off under armor shirt – although to be fair it was designed to wick out sweat instead of keep heat in, but it had long sleeves and I figured it would at least do something.

I remember my fingers going numb first, then my feet, finally my legs started becoming stiffer and harder to move and all this was within the first ten miles. I was riding in a pace line and I knew I probably was not going fast enough to keep myself warm, but it was biting cold.

I should have known this was going to be insane when even, dare devil and bike mechanic, Jonas Winn decided he wasn’t cycling today because conditions were too dangerous.

My core was still warm, but everything else was aching and my Achilles tendon which had become so sore and strained felt tight and sorer. I was fighting hard to make it to that rest stop. It was supposed to be a 75 mile day and when I arrived I quickly decided that if I was going to be fighting like this for every new rest stop that I wasn’t going to want to do it. I’ve ridden in bad conditions before, I have nothing else to prove and I could tell my gear was not equipped for this kind of cold and wet. I hopped in the van to warm up and I wasn’t the only one.

Jonas hopped out and helped break down bikes. Most folks were ready to call it a day, although a few decided to keep riding. Jack volunteered to shuttle people to the church.

Harper and I were the first two to be shuttled back. I was already in Jack’s van since there was no more room in the Fuller Center van to warm up.

Jack drove and Melissa navigated in the front seat and I chatted with Harper in the back seat. Harper is kind of shy by nature. One of the first things we all noticed about her was that she loved to read – she spent her all her time in a very thick book. A book I recognized I might add – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. So naturally we had plenty to talk about. The fact that she’s seen many of my favorite animated series and has read many books that I have was awesome.

I’m glad talking with Harper was easy because I’ve never been good with talking to fourteen year olds about anything before; seriously – if you don’t believe me then go ask my cousins.

So we arrived at the church and unloaded our bikes and our gear so as to give Jack plenty of room for the next batch of riders. The pastor of Parkway Baptist church (and yes this church is called Parkway Baptist too) provided us with coffee and hot chocolate which was a warm welcome on such a chilly day.

So then came the wait for the next set of riders, followed by more waiting and then even more waiting. Well it turned out that about forty-five miles away the rain had cleared up, making it simply a cold day instead of a wet one. So the remaining riders no longer wanted to be shuttled back in the van, they all wanted to see if they could finish the ride. Hours later we had riders emerge – some made it the whole way, others road in the van for twenty miles to warm up. I still remember Sarah Doren arriving – wind burnt, cold burnt, every kind of burnt, she was looking fierce like some kind of warrior women striding in on her bike having conquered the day.

A number of others finished the whole ordeal, including the sweeps. I applaud them, but I do not regret my decision to cut the ride short at all. For all I knew it could have kept raining, I was ill prepared for that and for the sake of safety I feel like one has to know their limits and besides I wasn’t looking for a crazy challenge this time around. I was looking to enjoy myself and I don’t think I would have enjoyed myself to finish a very bitter day.

The church bought us boxes upon boxes of pizza – it was wonderful, hot pizza to counter a freezing day.

There is Harper to the left, followed by Ryan who is working on his laptop, then Bud active on his tablet, Venus whose also joined the laptop party and Angela who just happened to be walking by when I took this picture…

After dinner it was game time; actually even before dinner today seemed to be the day for games. That afternoon a group played worst case scenario junior and a game called ‘somethings’. In the evening Sarahs wanted to play a game called Telephone Pictionary which they did, thanks to a bunch of paper from a memo notebook I brought. We also had some folks who actually wanted to play Catch Phrase, which is really nice since I’ve been having a harder and harder time finding people who still want to play that game.
Also I remember we all had another bike cleaning party – which is important to do after riding your bike through the rain.

Here is Jonas working on his bike. He also found a Fireman’s hat in the kid’s room of the church.

It looks like it will be warmer tomorrow, but still rainy, but that’s ok. I can handle warm and rainy. It’s also our last day of biking which is sad, but also exciting.

Build Day

March 20th

Build Day
St. Paul’s Methodist Church

(Do to lack of internet and the rush of the trip I'm finally posting the rest of the adventure here!)

Before I get too far ahead of myself I would like to highlight a few things about the trip that I haven’t mentioned yet. For starters I mentioned earlier that I ate with Tom Webber and his family. What I neglected to mention was that those folks are also riding with Tom on the Spring Ride. Matthew Webber, Tom’s son, and Harper Webber, Tom’s granddaughter are representing three generations of Webbers on this Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure.

I was a little confused at first because Matthew calls Tom, ‘Tom,’ instead of Dad. Although I guess I shouldn’t find this too surprising since my brother Blake calls Dad ‘Randy,’ instead of Dad, but still it can be disorienting. The Webbers are amazing people and very talented. Matthew pastors a church and Harper is an artist, and musician who dabbles in writing and she’s also a member of a band; very impressive considering she’s fourteen years old.

Another group I wanted to highlight are ‘The Sarahs.’ Sarah Doren a returning rider who road with me in 2011 I am very familiar with, but this spring I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah Doren’s friend Sarah Cooke – and yes she is equally as nuts and quirky as Sarah Doren, just in case you were wondering. They have both taken to signing their thank you notes to our host churches as ‘The Sarahs,’ - which stands to reason that when you get too goof balls together – wacky and adorable insanity ensues!

Finally I also wanted to mention that I met a rider named Cheryl Smith on the Spring Ride. This is significant because I have an aunt back home named Cheryl Smith. This Cheryl Smith is very active in missions and has a beautiful testimony about her faith and her life. She also has written two books so we had much to talk about. I look forward to keeping in touch with her in the future.

So moving on with Build day I must say we were very grateful to sleep in until 8:00am this morning, and yes I did say sleep in. We split up into two groups for both building projects. One of the projects dealt with replacing shingles on a roof and doing extensive roof restoration and the other dealt with dry walling a room and replacing linoleum tiled flooring in the kitchen.

 Jonas strongly encouraged folks with experience in dry walling to join up with the second group. I remember putting up sheet rock and mudding it from spending time on jobs with Dad so I signed up for group 2, even though I ended up spending most of my time working on tearing up the floor or fixing up a handicap ramp (we found out later that the handicap ramp wasn’t supposed to be our project and we weren’t supposed to touch it). Our bad, at least we managed to finish it so I really can’t see it being a bad thing that we were able to help out this family even more than we were ‘supposed,’ too.

 A lot of the tricks I learned from Dad came in handy during this build – such as using a hammer and paint scrapper and hammer to peel off base boards. Another trick I used was to drive the sharp ends of the nails back into the inside of the board without knocking them out as to make it easier to drive them back into the wall later. I also spent a fair amount of time using a drill on the handicap ramp and I also remembered that when it comes to wooden boards the bow always goes up. I’m sure Dad would be proud to know that I was actually listening to him that whole time. Too bad he never gets on the internet to read these blogs.

The family themselves were amazing. We were helping this elderly woman named Ludeen by doing these renovations to her home. Her son in Law Willy was hot from working on the house long before we had even arrived. Her daughter Mary adopted me as her buddy, it turns out her daughter has the same birthday as I do.

We worked on her house late into the evening and accomplished a lot. Also when it was time to start shuttling a few people back someone, I won’t name names here, but someone ended up getting the van stuck in the mud. It was getting cold by now and many of us riders were tired from the day’s work. It took a number of us and Willy and Mary’s help to finally rock the van out of the mud and get us back on the road.

It was truly an awesome day and we were able to help a family whose house may not be in the best place, but whose hearts are in the perfect place. Ludeen, Willy and Mary are very generous people and often go out of their way to help other people even when they can’t really afford too. They took us in and treated us like family and reminded me so much why I enjoy going out on these build days and traveling with the Fuller Center.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention a few quirks from the build. Here we go.

-          Myself trying to cut out a three and half foot groove into a two-by-four with only a hammer and a chisel; as you might imagine it took forever and was hard on my arms even though I had another rider help alternate with me.
-          Tom webber trying to chisel with a hammer and a pencil

I think Tom’s just won the oily stapler award – named in honor of my Dad who does quirky things with tools too – such as oiling a stapler.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Collinwood TN to Tupelo Mississippi

March 19th

Collinwood TN to Tupelo Mississippi

Today was originally supposed to be an 89 mile day, but last night they said it would be 96, by the time I arrived at the church I had traveled 99.7 miles and yes I did finish out the century with another rider by riding circles in the parking lot.

I volunteered to sweep today with Sarah Doren. Sarah had generously volunteered to be sweep yesterday since she knew the mileage alone would deter people from volunteering to be sweeps. I volunteered because I wanted to catch up with Sarah since it’s been so long since we’ve been together in person.

The Natchez Trace was beautiful today, but it was cold. Thank God there was no rain today. When we left in the morning it was in the 30s. Many of the riders including myself bundled up with all the layers we could, even sweaters and sweat shirts that weren’t bike gear. It was reported that the high today would be 58o, which is not bad cycling weather if it stays 58o. However the further below that temperature it gets the more uncomfortable a ride can be, especially if there is wind.

It was chilly in the morning, but gradually became better. The ride and the scenery were beautiful. Luscious trees with green or sometimes red leaves, endless miles without stop signs or stop lights, we saw cows today on a farm off the Trace a ways. There was also long fields of grace off to the sides.

Sarah and I had some interesting adventures on the trail while sweeping today and we encountered some interesting challenges. Most of the challenges emerged from the fact that we share a similar problem, we both have weak bladders. Generally this wouldn’t be a problem since trees are usually all over the place on these rides, but since the Trace is such a well-kept and well groomed Parkway the trees and brush are cut back to a certain point and then it’s impossible to creep through them any further. Also sometimes there aren’t any trees around.

Sarah had the brilliant idea of using the bridges on the trail as bathrooms. I took the right side of the bridge and Sarah took the left and there was enough cover before the gap in the middle of the bridge to hide us from each other as well as anyone who may be riding a car along the road.

Also we crossed through two states today – Alabama and now we’re in Mississippi!!!!

The ride was long and exhausting, but we finally made it to the church – it’s a big facility with showers and they served us a huge meal. We had fried chicken, baked chicken, mashed potatoes, pastas and all kinds of foods as well as deserts. We met George the President of the Fuller Center here and were given a warm welcome.

We have our build day tomorrow and I can’t wait to get up and get to work blessing a family in need! Good Night!