Bike Adventure Blog

By Tom Tebbe

A few short minutes before 4:00 a.m. cell phone alarms began ringing, rousing sleeping bikers to prepare for a 103 mile ride from Montgomery, Al to Demopolis, Al.  After a 5:00 a. m. breakfast and clean up of our host church, the Vaughn Park Church of Christ in Montgomery, we wove  our way through many turns in Montgomery.  We had not ridden for more than 7 miles, when I got careless and started reaching for my chaulk to mark a  turn without stopping. Next thing I knew was my bike was out of control  and I was falling on my right side.  Thankfully, we were going slow,   however the road surface was rough, so I have nice rash on my hip, skinned ankle and elbow.  (one moment of not paying attention will put you on the ground real fast). After readjusting my helmet, I hopped back  on the bike and pedaled on down the road. Someone said "How is your ego?"  I said, "I don't have any ego left after that dumb move!"

        Soon we were biking through rural Alabama.  Pedaling through soybean fields, pastures of beef cattle and open forested lands is very peaceful.  I began to think about the hard work involved in the process of getting food  from the field to the millions of consumers around the country.  When we stopped after 25 miles for our first rest stop, a farmer was storing a 12 row seeder in a shed and attaching a 16 foot wide disc.  I asked what he had been planting, he told me he had been planting sesame seeds.  He said the plants grow about 3 feet tall with a bushy top.  He also  explained that the planter can been used for  almost any seed - soybeans, corn, peanuts, sesame, wheat oats and other grains.  The work of the farmer reminded me of how often  I want a quick response or answer to  a problem.  We are biking to help eliminate poverty  housing.  This is not a problem that has a quick, easy or convenient solution.  It takes the enthusiasm, energy, determination, planning and execution on a strategic basis.
        Our mid way stop was Selma, Alabama, the town made famous or infamous by the March 7, 1965 civil rights march.  Black Americans had been given the right to vote for decades, but social structures in the south prevented them from being registered to vote.  After continuous efforts over the years to exercise their rights, a march was organized.  This endeavor was met with death threats to many involved in the march and their supporters.  When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, he referenced this march and the courage of those who marched to protect the civil rights of others.

        As we rode through the day, the clouds that  kept temperatures down through most of the morning faded and the temperature climbed to  100  degrees by  2:00 p.m.  About this time we saw a church marquee requesting rain from God.  Well,  God  answered that  churches request with a downpour that featured crackling lightning strikes, booming thunder, 60 mile per  hour winds and pelting rain mixed with light hail.  Unfortunately,  we were  caught  in the open with no shelter 9 miles from our destination.  We  had no choice but to get off our bikes and wait out the storm by  the side of the rode.  After being blasted by the wind, rain and hail for  20 minutes a truck stopped.  A Good Samaritan had picked up 3 riders and their bikes.  As another rider loaded his  bike into the truck, our support van drove up.  We loaded 3 more bikes into the trailer and drove to our destination.  There were a number of chilly, soggy riders in the van.  One person in another group of 3 riders had a flat along the highway as the storm approached.  As they were changing the flat tire, Eddie Griffin, came out to the road to check on the approaching storm.  After helping a lady who had run out of gas, he told the riders to come his house and wait on his porch until the storm passed.  So, we want to give a shout out to Eddie and thank him for taking care of our riders and helping them stay safe when the Armageddon storm blew through.
        A hot shower after getting really chilled feels absolutely wonderful.  A big thank you to Fairhaven Baptist Church of Demopolis, Alabama for being wonderful hosts and warming us inside and out.

By Esteban Carillo

Today we arrived to Montgomery, Alabama; one segment down and only eight more to go! Everyone seemed eager to get to our destination, and if you couldn’t tell by the look on their faces then the speed at which we departed was a sure sign that it was going to be an exciting 83 miles. Maybe it was because it was the last ride for a few or maybe because for the first time we had a nice tail wind helping us ride or maybe because for the first time we had a net loss in elevation or maybe it was the fact that we had to ride 83 miles instead of a 100 or maybe it was Ryan’s inspiring story during our morning devotion, but whatever the reason was it worked! Sometimes it is difficult to admire the scenery while one is so focus on the road but as we passed through some historic towns such as Tuskegee I found enough strength to look around where I was riding, meditate, and appreciate where I was and my purpose for doing this ride.


We had to say goodbye to all of the first segment riders: Scott, Caleb, Kristina, Lori, Jim, Sherry, and, Ryan. It’s pretty amazing how close you can get and how sad it is to say goodbye to someone who was a complete stranger a week ago. But that is part of what makes this ride so special. From Scott’s acuity to Sherry’s liveliness to Jim’s hard work to Caleb’s passion to Kristina’s friendliness to Lori’s strength and to Ryan’s leadership, I am honored to have spent a week with them and each individual has taught me something very special that I’m sure I will cherish forever. I want to give a special thanks to Vaughn Park Church of Christ of Montgomery for kindly hosting us for the next two days and for opening their hearts to us.  

 

By Kristina Oliver and Caleb Farrow

I don't know where to begin, its been amazing! Yesterday, we had our very first century ride which was incredibly tough for some riders due to the heat, but everyone made it. Today, on the other hand, was very rewarding as we worked alongside others to complete the finishing touches on a veteran's house! As the day drew to an end, we got the amazing opportunity to be a part  of the dedication to the house that belonged Mr. Anderson who was eighty-two years of age and a veteran of the United States Army. It's awesome to see the joy on a homeowner's face after they return to their home after being absent for a long period of time. Even when a homeowner comes into their house and sees volunteers working they seem to be really happy to know that better conditions are coming soon!

My experience during only the first week has been amazing though! It amazes me how twenty-five strangers from all over the country can come together and bond in a unique way. As I look back on the week I can't think of a dull moment yet. I hate to leave in just two today's because I feel like I have a true place on this team with all these people who seem  so unique. But I'll definitely keep this group in my daily prayers and thoughts!

By Sherry Dire

What would possess someone to sign up to use their vacation time to join a trip that requires getting up at 4:30am to spend hour upon hour in the hot sun pedaling a bike or working on a home build? For my husband and I, the answer to this question is the desire to combine a passion for long distance cycling with the desire to spend  time in this world serving others and making beautiful memories with those that God puts in our path.  It seems our hearts are most full when we are serving, looking beyond our own desires, and finding ways to touch the hearts of others for the glory of God.  It is with a very full heart that I sit here writing today because I know that being part of The Fuller Center Bike Adventure is a gift that God has showered upon myself and the rest of our team out of His great love for us. 

The build day yesterday, the complete reroofing of that home, is a physical representation of the impact The Fuller Center is having on the world.  However, I strongly believe that the most magnificent work The Fuller Center is doing every day on this trip is the building of our lives, the transforming of hearts, and the restoration of hope that we all can leave this world a better place than we found it. 

The other great gift this adventure is giving us is that we are daily seeing that the body of Christ in America is very much alive and continuing to selflessly serve.  Our 100 mile ride today ended in Lanett, Alabama at the community center where we were given a very warm welcome by the local Fuller Center Covenant partner as well as the mayor.  Dinner was excellent, the pool opened just for our use, and cots were set up for us to sleep on.  What an amazing way to see and be reminded of the goodness in our country!  Thank you Lanett community and thank you Father!

 

By Jaime Riedinger

Sorry this is a little late. Our time in Americus was a whirlwind. Americus is the headquarters for The Fuller Center, and thus there was plenty to do and see while there. Wednesday was our first day off of biking but far from a day off. We worked with the Americus Fuller Center Covenant Partner to help repair a house that had been damaged when a tree fell on the roof from a tornado. The family was forced to move out and so the goal is to get them back in their home. The majority of the group worked on the roof. The old roof was removed, weak and soft boards replaced and the new roof hammered into place. Some very determined men and women worked incredibly hard to finish it all in one day. Some other members of the group, myself included worked inside to repair drywall that had been damaged by water leaking from the roof. Completing both these tasks were huge steps in getting the family closer to moved back in.

While in Americus we also got to meet and talk with a number of people who work with and for the Fuller Center. Linda Fuller fed us lunch and shared a little of her and Milliards story. In addition we ate dinner at the President of the Fuller Center’s house along with other board members, staff and volunteers. Getting to see and talk with so many who are so passionate about the Fuller Center and its cause was just the encouragement and inspiration we needed as we continue our journey and mission.