Niagara Falls to New Orleans by Bike
Sound good? Of course it does.
When I graduated from college in 2008, I desperately needed a break and an adventure to go with it. I spent many nights searching for cross-country bike tours and planned on choosing one as a graduation gift. But the $2,000-$4,000 price tags felt too large to justify. Something about a fancy meal and a nice hotel to sleep in every night didn’t fit into my idea of a youthful, somewhat reckless adventure. I wanted something else, something different and a little less predictable.
I found what I was looking for via Facebook, and two months later was cycling coast to coast along a southern route. I was struggling with 70-90 mile days in the 115-degree heat of southern California in summer, but I was also feeling more alive than ever before. The fully-supported trip had only cost me $200 and raising $5,000 for the cause turned out to be simpler than I had imagined. I was sleeping on the floors of churches and gyms, eating spaghetti nearly every night and stopping every few days to do construction that would help move a family out of poverty housing.
I got what I wanted with regards to unpredictability. Understandably, there were some kinks, as it was the first trip run by The Fuller Center for Housing, a non-profit that builds and repairs (but does not give away) houses for families in need of a hand up. But the lack of a plan beyond getting from point A to point B left room for folly (and the occasional wrong turn). We waited out a Kansas thunderstorm at a convenience store sitting in the break room eating from huge tubs of ice cream. We once ordered a large pizza for every two people at Pizza Hut, then raced each other the next day to see who would get the leftovers. We frequently detoured to coffee shops to fill our water bottles with iced mochas and would change the route mid-ride to hit cafes at the time of our next rest stop. There’s nothing like a warm cappuccino on a cold day riding through Colorado.
Two years later, the trip has become an annual event and is seeking cyclists, teams and clubs who live along the 2010 route to ride a day, a weekend or a week in addition to those able to ride the entire route. The third Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure will depart Niagara Falls in June and pass through Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C. (for the 4th of July), Virginia Beach, Raleigh, N.C., Spartanburg, S.C., Macon, GA, Tallahassee, FL, and Mobile, AL on the way to New Orleans. The finish will acknowledge the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and celebrate The Fuller Center’s fifth year of building simple, decent houses.
If this sounds interesting, keep reading for details and challenge your cycling club/team to join us for a weekend or a whole week. Even if it doesn’t sound interesting, please pass it on to your cycling friends. I am certainly glad that I didn’t miss my opportunity to do the trip, and you never know who might feel the same.
Dates: June 18 – August 8, 2010 | Length: 50 days
Total Distance: 2,500 miles | Daily Average: 70 miles
Route Breakdown: (Click here for a map and full schedule)
Part 1: Niagara Falls to Pittsburgh (June 18 – 27)
Part 2: Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. (June 27 – July 4 or 5)
Part 3: Washington, D.C. to Virginia Beach (July 4 or 5 – 10)
Part 4: Virginia Beach to Spartanburg, SC (July 9 or 10 – 18)
Part 5: Spartanburg, SC to Americus, GA (July 18 – 25 or 26)
Part 6: Americus, GA to Fort Walton Beach, FL (July 25 – Aug 1)
Part 7: Fort Walton Beach, FL to New Orleans (Aug 1 – August 8th)
Total Fundraising Goal: $250,000
Learn more: Go to the bike adventure Web site!
Ride for the cause; ride for the camaraderie; ride to change lives and be changed!