By Carolyn McDonough ’18
5:00 AM. The little movements of the group start as I pick my head up off the floor. I look down at my legs, still feeling the hills and climbs from the day before. The lights turn on: a new day starts, a new challenge awaits, the adventure begins.
With the little energy I have at the moment, I battle to keep my eyes from shutting, returning to the dream world they were just in. Reality hits: I must hop on my bike again and continue trekking across America, climbing mountains, chasing storms and battling headwinds. It is time to feel the wind again.
When I get on my bike, a new energy hits me—I suddenly feel recharged and ready to ride the road less traveled. My heart begins to beat stronger as my chain quietly hums along with the surrounding sounds of nature and cars passing by. As the sun begins to light the dark land, I think to myself of how I could even put words together to describe the beauty of the sunrise and the beauty of a new beginning.
4,000 miles, 10 weeks, 14 states, 1 country. This summer, I biked across America with the Fuller Center for Housing. Starting in Oceanside, California, our group pedaled our way over the Rockies, through the Great Plains, and over the Appalachian Mountains, eventually to reach our destination: Portland, Maine.
Through the heat, rain, cold, we pressed on to the finish. This Christian non-profit organization has the goal to eliminate poverty housing throughout the world. During the trip, we had build days where we helped to repair homes and reached out to the community. These days on the trip were the most rewarding for me—it’s an incredible thing impacting the life of someone in need and seeing how simple actions can truly change the lives of others around us for the better.
From this journey, there were some things I learned along the way: with every uphill, there’s a downhill. The roads twist and bend, sometimes in ways you wouldn’t expect. Sometimes you encounter unexpected tests. Sometimes you have to make a detour. Sometimes the ride is smooth, other times it is very bumpy. This entire journey requires faith: faith that God will direct you along your path. It’s important to look past yourself and to focus on others around you. Keep your eyes open. Beauty is all around us: sometimes we just need to look around to appreciate the little things that come across our path and make us smile.
Strength is more than the size of your legs. Riding a bicycle across the highways and byways of America does require a great deal of strength, but it’s not only physical. It takes a spiritual and mental muscle that can only be grown by testing its limits and pushing beyond them. Hills and mountains wait up the road. Just remember, the highest and hardest climbs are the ones that bring the most incredible view.
This trek across America made me realize that life is just like riding a bike. The most important thing to remember is that you’ve got to keep moving forward or you will fall down. No matter how long, short, fast, or slow your journey seems, it is time to ride and keep moving.
Even though one pedal stroke doesn’t seem like much, many strokes put together can lead you to bike across the country and make it to places we wouldn’t even have imagined to make it to.
Life is what you make of it—what will you get out of your adventure?