Tuesday, June 24, 2014


I am writing this to you alive and well from the beautiful state of Indiana....but first let me tell you a story.  Come back with me as we Journey away from our build day in Aurora, across the state of Ohio, and find out why I think this state had it out for me from the beginning. 

We had an amazing build day in Aurora helping out 5 different houses.  I was able to go to Pam's house and we went to town on all that she needed!  After a slow start and a "broken" power washer, we finally were able to chip, seal, and wash the outside of the house...,clean out, scrape, power wash, and blow dry the garage..., change the water heater, install cabinets, and paint almost the entire outside of the house.  You can see some pre/mid/post pictures of her house below. 

Aurora was an amazing town and I even got the chance to go out and see How To Train Your Dragon 2 since there was a movie theater near by.  But alas, all good things must come to an end.  The next day we biked a short, "easy" 30 miles into Cleveland.   Except I got a flat tire, and decided that my wheel was looking mighty thin anyway, so I got a new tire.....it's only the beginning.  In Cleveland, a large group of us were able to walk downtown and check out the rock and roll museum as well as the acclaimed Lake Erie (which people here say is just like the ocean....it's not).  Before walking back, we checked out a local bar to watch the Fifa World Cup.  And luckily we did because a GIANT storm rolled through and we were stuck in the bar for 2 hours.  But hey, it was soccer time, so who's complaining.  

The next day we were off to Sandusky, the great home of the Cedar Point Amusement Park.  Well we were off to a start least.  Not to say we finished.  It was a very wet day.  The rain didn't stop the entire bike ride.  About mile 40, me and the group I was riding with hit a wet overpass frost expander and took a bit of a tumble.  A few of our bikes, including mine, took some pretty decent damage.  One had his handle bar bent in, and then me and another guy had our derailleurs bent and unusable.  None of the local bike shops were able to fix my bike so I had to take the next day off on our way into Toledo.  It was hard wanting to bike all way across the country and being forced to ride in the van for the day.  I will make it up somehow.  I am sure I will get lost somewhere.  I have 90 miles to make up.  I did get a good 4 mile run in on our way to Toledo so I guess it's 86 now.  

Toledo was an experience! The people who helped us there created an unforgettable weekend for us.  We helped an elderly couple on Saturday do all the stuff around their house that they were incapable of doing such as painting, and cleaning the entire yard (like 25 bags of yard work).  The owners of the home were so incredible grateful.  We brought the wife to tears as she thanked us.  They even gave us shirts! I was excited about that.  I like shirts.  The newspaper, a couple of news stations, one of the heads of the city department, and all of the family and friends of the couple came out to support, help, and interview us.  I felt like everyone in Toledo knew about us as we traveled around in the town.  The most incredible part was that Joyce, our host, treated us to a sunset river boat excursion...and it did not disappoint!  Would you just look at it! Would ya!

So my bike has a new hanger, a new derailleur, a new chain, and I am ready to go finally! I bike my way out of Toledo only to find that my bike tire was pretty wobbly....but nothing to worry about. right? wrong.  I kept up a blazing pace for the first 60 miles (a pace that beat my bike segment of my half iron man by 40 minutes.) But right as I left the last rest stop and got under way my back tire locked up against the brake and I took a skidding tumble.  I don't know how it happened or what caused it but my back tire was toast after that, along with my right leg.  Luckily the bike shop right down the road had me a new rim in no time, a new leg not so much.  Ohio just couldn't let me cross the border of Indiana without one last goodbye.

Today was a wet 65 mile day into South Bend, Indiana, but I completed the whole ride....without falling! And what a beautiful rainy day it was.  We passed by rush hour traffic in amish country.  A whole 20 horse and buggys trotted by us.  Things were getting crazy on the back roads of Indiana.  You got to watch out for those horses!

And that's it.  Tomorrow we bike to Gary, Indiana and will get the chance to help out in the neighborhood that Michael Jackson grew up in.  And apparently, according to Kristina (who is sitting next to me and told me to add her in), it will be the anniversary of Michael's death.   And then after that we will spend the weekend in Chicago!!!!!! Super excited about that.  So until then....

its just the open road

Monday, June 16, 2014


Almost every day since Philadelphia it has rained on us.  In fact, some days it hailed on us.  But I will get to that.  After helping out in Philadelphia and touring the downtown area, we had to trek out on our first 100 mile day into the heart of Pennsylvania.  To the heart of the chocolate world to be exact.  We rode all the way to Hershey, PA.  Most of the trail out of Philadelphia was a sweet hard packed gravel trail along rivers and through enchanted forests.  I got to ride with an amazing returning rider named Dan, and even though we got lost and ended up in someone’s private driveway, I would say the day ended up a success.  At Hershey they allowed us to spray off our muddy, nasty bikes with a hose, and once we were showered and ready, they took us to Chocolate World to tour their attraction.  Unfortunately, we didn’t end up going to where any of the roller coasters are…so now I will just have to come back, but it was still a fun place to be singing with the dairy cows.  Like literally, the cows sang on the tour ride. 

From Hershey, we rode into historic Gettysburg.  After our chore team got done with everyone’s laundry, I was able to go explore the town and the battle memorial.  Me and my new, awesome friends Dani and KP, went on an exploration for ice cream…..which was unsuccessful, but then ended walking over to the memorial and experiencing all of the rich Civil War history these areas have.  But of course, on the way back, we got hit by a torrential downpour and ended up walking back into the church looking like we just decided to jump into a lake.  Definitely gonna remember that day.  That seems to be a theme.  There are a lot of memorable moments. 

After Gettysburg, we began our climb into the mountains of the Appalachians.  We climbed 3 pretty major passes (which I’ll be honest, I didn’t think existed in this mountain range) and totaled just over 7,000 feet of climbing by the time we crawled into Everett, PA.  There wasn’t much to do in Everett but that didn’t stop me.  I went exploring with another new friend, Kristina (another theme haha, there a lot of new friends each day, we are becoming family.)  We found a sketchy bridge that was being worked on and only open to pedestrians - oh and was traversing flooding waters….from all the rain that we’ve been biking through.  We also found a cool golf course and watched people golf, pretending we were announcers and giving everyone names.  Our personal favorite was Derry.  Which was a mix between Dave and Jerry because we couldn’t agree which one best suited him. 

Leaving Everett, we headed for Mount Pleasant.  What a beautiful day it was.  We rode over the Laurel Highlands to beautiful partly cloudy skies.  Of course the word highlands doesn’t come without climbing.  We totaled another 6,600 feet of climbing over many many rolling hills, before finally descending a 4 mile, 7% grade hill.  Always the best part!  Quite possibly the only reason to even climb up the hills in the first place.  BUT we weren’t so lucky as to dodge the rain all day.  On the last hill, 5 miles out from the church, we got hailed on.  IT POURED! It poured so hard my arms hurt going down the hill as we looked for shelter.  My windshield wipers on my bike helmet didn’t appear to be working as I did my best to dodge holes, sticks, and other bikers going 30 mph down the hill.  But alas, we found a gas station, ran in, and lo and behold found a happy, and very dry, Gerry (who is our Scottish/Australian rider) huddled inside.   He apparently is more wise than us and ducked for cover before the storm comes.  Genius. 

From the very pleasant Mount Pleasant, we finally headed to our rest day near Pittsburgh.  And for once, it didn’t rain.  In fact it was beautiful! Pittsburgh couldn’t have advertised itself better to us.  I loved it! We got to bike across cool bridges, on amazing bike trails, through brick downtown streets, and by Heinz Field and PNC Park.  Pictures were had.  We spent our evening and our rest day in Rochester, PA, about 30 miles NW of Pittsburgh.  Had the chance to go swimming, to walk around town, and to experience the fine local dining….at Dairy Queen. 

Today we made the trip into our third state, Ohio.  Me and Dani swept, which basically means we ride at the back and make sure everyone makes it (which apparently we are terrible at, as two riders got lost and got to the first rest station behind us).  But we were able to make the most of the day by taking a bunch of crazy pictures and even throwing our bikes into the lake and jumping in.  Ok that last part didn’t happen but we did put our feet in the lake.  There were only a couple short spurts of rain but other than that, the day went alright.  Right now, I am getting the chance to spend some time alone in a park across the street from our church as I write this, enjoying the soft breeze and the sun reflecting colors off the giant storm clouds in the distance.  I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend the evening before our build day tomorrow as we help out in Aurora, OH. 

You know, it’s funny, rainy days always will come.  Even when you think the sunny days will never end, the rainy days inevitably appear in the distance.  Things happen unexpectedly.  People hurt your feelings, family breaks your heart, your possessions get destroyed.  You can be in a large group of people and still feel like you are alone.  You can be going along smoothly and still lose everything.  Things don’t always go as planned.  Life isn’t always sunny.  Even just now a storm rolled in on me and I had to evacuate the park for shelter.  But God is greater than a storm.  He can calm the seas.  He can get you to walk on water.  All you have to do is call out to Him, to keep your eyes on Him.  And then all of a sudden, no matter what is going on all around you, doesn't seem to matter.  All that matters our the eyes of your beloved savior guiding you out of the boat and leading you on a seemingly impossible journey.  So if there is any thing I have learned from these days of storms and rain, it’s that life is gonna throw waves at you.  People aren’t always going to treat you like you want to be treated.  You are going to get overwhelmed by storms that attack you in a rush.  But when it’s all said and done, its funny how much it all doesn’t even come close to comparing to staring down the eyes of the Man who died for you and wrapping your arms around Him with a love that’s greater than the biggest storm life can throw at you.  So when sadness comes, when anger comes, when frustration comes…even when happiness comes, go to God.  Just go to God.  The storm will pass. 

Thank you all so much for keeping involved with all that we are doing along the way.  I am very excited to tell you about the couple of build days we have coming up as those tend to be some of my favorite parts.  But until that time comes, arrivederci. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Heal all that is broken

What an exciting and crazy first few days it has been! After arriving in Philadelphia on late Wednesday night, we packed up and drove to Atlantic City where we stayed at the Long Term Recovery Group Center for housing relief after Hurricane Sandy.  Spent most of the first evening exploring the Monopoly inspiring streets and the boardwalk along the clustered shops and casinos.  Probably the best place to a pop a sqaut and people watch that I have ever experienced.

After we had all been orientated, Friday we took a quick practice ride along the boardwalk down to Lucy the Elephant.  Apparently she's like the worlds biggest elephant or something.  She's not real.  Just a giant tour/room/thing that you can climb up into.  But the fun didn't end with Lucy.  The entire rest of the day, we worked at one of the local housing sites helping them finish a house for a single dad who lost his house.  As a group, we accomplished putting up sheet rock in some rooms, spackling and sanding in others, and even started painting the rooms for him by the end of the day.  My lungs were littered with dust and debris but it was all so worth it.

Saturday was officially the first day of the trip.  We were headed to Tabernacle, NJ but first things first, we had to bike to the beach for the traditional back tire dip into the ocean and our kick off devotion and prayer.  We got some crazy awesome sunrise pictures and then we spun our pedals and got our tires off the sand and onto the asphalt headed for Tabernacle. You never quite realize what a 3,600 mile journey is gonna feel like until you sit your butt on the seat and realize what you are about to trek out on.

We slowly grew acquainted with our new family, learning their strengths and weaknesses, their pace and style, their quirks.  It is always the most exciting part of the trip making a new bond with so many people along the way that you can friends for years after from all across the country...and even the world.  We have one guy on our trip who is from Scotland, but lives in Australia, and I'll just say it, the guy cracks me up.  He is awesome.

The first ride was a little exciting.  Multiple groups ended up getting lost and I ended up doing 10 more miles than I should have.  But, hey, what's a 70 mile day to kick off the start of the bike adventure.  The Lord of Life Lutheran Church just outside of Tabernacle overwhelmed us with love and hospitality.  We were immediately met with philly cheesesteaks upon our arrival, and then on top of that we were told later we would be driven to a member's house and have a bonfire with s'mores and a huge BBQ!  Never have we had so much amazing food on this trip before.  I thought I would lose weight on this trip... Jokes on me.

I slept on a bean bag that night.  Oh man, it was great.  You wouldn't think it would be but I have loved curling up in small spaces and letting my feet dangle over the edge ever since my grandma's green swivel chair when I was little.  We were able to attend church there the next day which was very different from what I am used to but it's all good.  It's fun to see different styles of churches and how they function.  We were treated to more hoagie sandwiches after church and then began our quick 30 mile ride to North Philly.

Shane Claiborne, author and activist in the Kensington area of Philadelphia, was our host for the two nights we stayed there.  The movement they have going on in the community is incredible.  They are transforming the abandoned, run down houses of the area and getting people back into affordable houses.  The community here, although urban, run down, and littered, has such a heart and character.  The kids were biking in the alley ways and coming up to us smiling and living life... not behind a game console, but really getting out and playing.  I loved it.

Today we helped them move offices a few blocks to their new location and transferred their beds and intern housing over to the old office.  Unfortunately that means we have no mattresses tonight and all our rooms are filled with cabinets, books, and tables, but we will make due.  Hopefully it won't affect our 100 mile day tomorrow too much.

To wrap it all up, the front door of Shane's organization, The Simple Way, summarized our amazing mission and prayer not only on this trip, but in life, in everything.  "Heal all the is broken.  In our hearts.  In our streets.  In our world.

Amen. "

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Portland International Airport

I am a bit of an airport snob. Ask those that know me well and have traveled with me. I always try and travel to as much of the airport as possible. See it's food, it's view, it's layout, it's convenience, it's security. I've been able to see terrible airports like O'hare, Spokane, and most of LAX (although they did have some cool food places), and I have seen great airports like Denver, the terminal part of Seattle, and Vancouver, B.C.. But my all time favorite airport has always been Portland International Airport. There is seriously nothing wrong with this airport. Whoever engineered the layout and design of this airport deserves a gold star. From the light rail that stops at the terminal and goes downtown, to the entrance that is efficiently always flowing, to the restaurants and shops before you enter security and the many after as well, to the free wifi (you hear that Atlanta, FREE), to the views of the surrounding forested areas and of Mt Hood (on a non cloudy day). There is a reason it is voted the #1 airport in America. I enjoy ranking all the airports I have been to. I am just weird like that. I embrace it. 

All that to say, that is where I am right now. Headed to Philadelphia via Salt Lake City. And you know what that means. The Fuller Center Bike Adventure 2014 from Atlantic City, NJ, to Astoria, OR, is on it's way. In just one hour I will be flying out of here to explore America and to begin spreading the mission to eliminate poverty housing to as many people, places, and churches as possible. I feel like I keep pestering people, but if you would still like to donate to that mission, you can still support my trip by helping me reach my 3,600 dollar goal. Just go to http://fullercenter.donorpages.com/BikeAdventure/ScottieDuclos/ and click the donate button in the top right. I would pretty much love you forever, as well as whichever house that money goes to build. I am 1,000 dollars shy of reaching that goal and could use every drop you can afford. 

I will keep updated writings and photos along the way on this blog as I journey, so make sure to stay tuned. I am so stoked at all of the support everyone has been giving me. It feels like you will be traveling right there along with me. But of course, you wont be, because it's 3,600 miles haha. Again, I am a little crazy. 

So bring on the bike, and the miles, and the friends, and the sleeping on thermarests across church floors, and the sweat, and the paint and tools and whatever else needs to be done to the houses, and the mountains, and the cities, and the collapsing off your bike on to the grass after riding 1oo miles in crazy weather. Just bring it all on. It's go time.