Have you ever made an impulse decision? One that may have been so ridiculous that friends and family just looked at you and laughed? Well that’s what happened to me at the age of 19 when I asked if I could ride my bicycle across the country. What you have to understand first is that I had never ridden my bike more than a few miles at a time, I didn’t own a road bike, or any cycling apparel. I had no clue what riding a bicycle 3,600 miles in nine weeks across the country actually meant. Now as a college student many supported bicycle trips costs thousands of dollars and I had no way of paying for many of them and there was certainly no way I would be able to do it on my own. So after days of searching I came across the Fuller Center for Housing. Their mission was to raise money and awareness to end poverty housing worldwide and through the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure this impulse decision was now possible. I had to raise $1 per mile and 95% of that would go directly towards building/rebuilding homes.
This trip was going from Atlantic City, NJ to Astoria, OR. I showed up in NJ where I would be meeting my bicycle for the first time (which means I was not familiar with it at all and I did not do any training). I had no clue that you were supposed to be clipped in to it, I certainly did not know how to shift gears or how any of that worked, and I started to really think about what I had just gotten myself into. How was a 19-year-old kid with no experience of riding a bicycle and no training supposed to make it across the country? That next day when we set out to ride, I was in for a huge awakening. After just a few short miles my legs felt like Jell-O and I was already out of breath. But you best believe that I just kept going. That same week we had the Appalachian Mountains to go up and I just laughed hysterically to myself when I saw what I had to go up. I thought if I could barely make it 55 miles on a fairly flat day, how was I supposed to make it up a mountain? With the help of some friends telling me to “Just keep pedaling” I made it up after about 3 hours. It took me a lot longer than most of the other seasoned riders, but I was determined to make it no matter how long it took. I owed it to everyone that had donated to me and to myself.
Now I thought I was doing this just for the glory of saying that I biked across the country, but after one short week on this adventure I realized it was much more than that. I was not only riding my bicycle up and down mountains, on highways, over bridges and on country back roads, but I was helping to rebuild homes along the way. I was getting to help local people in the community who were in desperate need of a decent place to live. I was getting my hands dirty and putting my sweat, tears and blood into making these homes whole again. It was more about the relationships that you made with the homeowners and the communities and fellow cyclists than gloating about the accomplishment of making it from one coast to the other.
This experience changed my outlook on life and now I have devoted my life to helping make a change in our society by becoming a Social Worker. I am now 22 years old and I have raised over $12,000 to end poverty housing while crossing the country three times on my bicycle to stop and help repair and rebuild homes for those deserving it. I am a bit different than most people my age and I have accomplished something many people could only dream of. I plan to continue this mission of ending poverty housing and working side by side with the Fuller Center for Housing to do so. If you would like to join me this summer check out the website: www.fullercenterbikeadventure.org. I hope to see all of you out there! And just remember to keep pedaling because you never know how much of an impact it can have on someone.