The 4,000-mile Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure began June 5 in Oceanside, Calif., and ends in Portland, Maine, on Aug. 15 after traveling through 14 states.
Participants must raise $1 for every mile they ride, and choose how far they want to ride. Now in its eighth year, the ride has raised more than $1.1 million for The Fuller Center’s affordable housing ministry.
Riders rely on churches for accommodations. On Thursday, St. Barnabus of the Valley Episcopal Church put up the riders so they could recover from the 63-mile ride from Monticello, Utah.
“For those of us completing the entire ride, we must fundraise $4,000,” said Tom Weber, a fit 73-year-old, whose bike decal says he’s from Geezerville, Colo. “This is my fifth year to ride cross country and work for the cause. I love it.”
Along the way, the group contributes their labor to pre-arranged home-repair projects for low-income residents.
“We build fences and trim trees, build wheel-chair ramps, cleanup yards for the elderly,” said Jonathan Falk, of Jacksonville, Fla. “I joined because the Christian nonprofit has the same values I grew up with.”
The ride is supported by vans carrying gear, food and shelter. But it’s not easy riding through the 100-degree heat in Southern California and Arizona. Next up is Durango, then Wolf Creek Pass, then on to Colorado Springs, where they dismount bikes and spend many hours repairing homes.
John Busley, of Los Angeles, said his wife, Monica, did the ride and persuaded him to take the charity challenge this year with her. The military man does not have much cycling experience, but he said the support has been excellent.
“I’ve fallen a few times. The group has a positive vibe, and are very helpful if you have not done a lot of cycling,” he said. “My military friends are chipping in for my fundraising goal because they know I have to earn every mile.”
Eldon Eigsti, of Illinois, pilots a recumbent, and loves riding for a purpose while lending a hand to work on homes along the way.
The scenery’s not bad either.
“Riding through Monument Valley as the sun came up was a real highlight,” he said. “My son and daughter will be joining me in Missouri, so I’m looking forward to that.”
The riders organize into groups based on ability, and have occasional 100-mile days.
The Fuller Center for Housing was founded by Millard Fuller, who also founded Habitat for Humanity.
Besides the annual charity ride, the organization provides aid for those with housing needs – from maintenance and improving energy efficiency, to low-income housing development projects. Beneficiaries are often required to provide sweat equity for their homes, which come with zero-percent interest mortgages on terms they can afford.
Weber, who’s actually from Bloomfield, Colo., said the integrity of Fuller Center inspired him to join their effort.
“I signed up after my research showed they are very generous and organized with the funds they raise,” he said. “The organization’s leaders do not have huge salaries or live in mansions. They really make a difference providing safe housing for those in need all of the world.”
To learn more go to FullerCenter.org. To follow the bicycle adventure specifically go to FullerCenterBikeAdventure.org.