13 July 2009

Our first ride and our first build!

So the first leg of our trip went pretty well! We ended up biking 45.7 miles, according to my bike computer, from St. Joseph Michigan to South Bend Indiana. We had rest stops at miles 15 and 30 (the state line between Michigan and Indiana) where the van pulled over and we stopped to get water and snacks. I think about 20 riders from the Kern Road Mennonite Church in South Bend road with us, which will happen at a few other places along the way. The ride was difficult, but it was fun, and served as a great first ride. I actually ended up taking a spill in the first mile. haha. I had that issue with not getting my shoe unclipped again, but it was minor, and I got back on with only minor battle wounds :).

Before we took off we rode a couple of miles to Lake Michigan for our send off ceremony. We dipped our back tires into the lake while some Fuller Center leaders said their encouraging words, and then we were off! There are some pictures of me at the ceremony on Facebook if you want to see them. It was really cool, even though the crowd was pretty small, they were all so excited and dedicated to the cause. It was amazing to think about all the similarly awesome people we'll be meeting along the way!!

Afterward we had this awesome cookout at one of the Fuller Center board members houses, then went to the church. This one has two individual showers we could use :). Krystal, one of the riders, then gave us a yoga lesson, which was awesome!! I'm so glad people want to do yoga because it really helps me when I've been working out a lot... which I will be doing :)... Haha. And it's so nice to have someone who's been trained in teaching it!! Thanks Krystal!

Today I worked on a Fuller Center project here in South Bend. One thing that makes the Fuller Center unique (different from Habitat for Humanity) is that the Fuller Center does repairs in addition to building new homes. I really enjoy that aspect because there are so many people who already have homes, but are still in dire need. So today we worked on a repair project for a lady named Freddie Mae Williams :). We pulled some weeds and did some painting.

In unhappy news, my iPod is broken :(. It says it's playing music, but it won't actually let me hear it. Haha. It's had a good long life though. So if anyone wants to make a donation in the form of a new iPod, it would be greatly appreciated :).

It's finally setting in that I'm actually doing this, and I'm so excited!! I'm excited to get to know my fellow riders better (there are a lot of cool people here... there's someone behind me right now teaching a lesson in writing Korean... haha), learning about all the places we go and churches we visit, figuring out if I can actually ride my bike all this way, and everything else that's going to be a part of this crazy adventure. Thanks again to everyone who's supported me, I'm so grateful to have this opportunity.

Begining of the trip!! (writen 7-11-09)

We’re wrapping up our first full day of the Fuller Center Bike Adventure! I still can’t really believe I’m doing it... perhaps it’ll set in when we actually start biking. Tomorrow we’re doing our first official ride from the shore of Lake Michigan in St. Joseph to South Bend, Indiana—about 40 miles. I’m pretty nervous, but I think I’m probably about as prepared as most of the other people here, and there’s definitely the mentality that this is not a race. Over the past two days we’ve been getting oriented to the logistics of the ride and stuff... and eating a lot of good food served by some very generous locals :).

Friday I got to the First Church of God here in St. Joseph at about 1:00, met a few of the riders, and acquired all of my cool new Fuller Center gear. Then I got a box full of 295 letters that I had to sign and stuff into envelopes to send to all the Kiwanis clubs in Ohio asking for donations :). Luckily I got some help from some of my fellow riders. That evening we had dinner at a beautiful lake house and relaxed on the beach while the sun set, and we stayed the night in the basement of the church. It’s been an unexpectedly comfortable start to the trip.

Today we had some more formal orientation. I learned how to change a flat tire!! We also went on a short practice ride around town which was fun. It’s a lot different riding in a group of people than it is riding alone—I think that aspect is going to make this trip even more interesting. Then we went to the St. Joseph – Benton Harbor YMCA and I had my first communal shower experience. Haha. Ryan Iafigliola, the trip leader, taught us about the Fuller Center, which was great. He answered some questions about the difference between it and Habitat for Humanity that I’ve been searching for answers to for a while. Then for dinner we went to a farm owned by a guy named Gary who cooked some enormous steaks for us, and when we arrived he asked “so what are you guys actually doing?”. Again, he just confirmed what I’ve been finding all along—all he knew was that we were doing something good and that we needed to eat, and that’s all he needed to open up his beautiful farm and cook steak for us. There are good people everywhere :).

Tomorrow we’re going to the church service upstairs and setting up a table outside to talk to people as they’re leaving... and hopefully raising some money. Then we’re setting off on our first day of riding after the official send off ceremony at 2:30! Wish me luck :).