Taking in all the sights: Fuller Center Bike Adventure spruces up Craig as part of national cycling ride
Every year, Jeff Bracken sees a little less of the world.
So to raise awareness and fight back against the Usher Syndrome Type 2 that’s taken much of his sight and hearing, Bracken, 33, of Shelbyville, Kentucky, joined the Fuller Center Bike Adventure across the United States, which made its way through Craig this week.
“I want to get this in before I lose more and I can’t see,” Bracken said.
Bracken has been traveling with the Fuller Center riders since May 24 along the ride through much of the American west this summer. The route takes riders on a loop that stretches from Glacier National Park in Montana to northern Arizona. A network of churches, schools, homes, and volunteers help house the riders so they can do work projects for those in need at each stop.
A second wave is scheduled to arrive July 9 in Craig.
Vicki Burns and Neil Folks of Craig both helped set up 13 different work sites for the group across the city.
“We have 13 different projects lined up, whether it’s trimming trees or mowing a lawn,” Burns said Tuesday at a welcoming picnic for the rider’s arrival. “…we have a roof repair, plumbing repair.”
Burns said the group will also be washing church windows and generally helping to “clean things up around town.”
Bracken, the tallest among the group of riders, had no problem Wednesday washing the high windows of a local church in Craig.
California’s David Erquhart, 64, is a support driver for the group. He said the trip so far has been different than his usually vacations across the nation.
“We’ve been across the country dozens of times, but never 80, 100 miles a day,” Erquhart said, adding the slow journey makes the trip and the people along the way something to remember.
“You get to see a lot of cool things and meet a lot of nifty people,” Erquhart said.
Erquhart pointed out Bracken — at six feet, two inches — despite his partial blindness, typically leads the group of about 30 riders through the mountains.
“He’s normally at the front of the pack,” Erquhart said.
Which is quite a feat as Bracken was forced to relinquish his driver’s license due to his poor eyesight.
“I miss a lot of scenery,” Bracken said. “I can see in front of my face. It’s like looking through two toilet paper rolls. I have to pay attention to the white line.”
But Bracken can’t always lead the group, especially when riding through a busy metropolitan area.
“If it’s a busy town, I’ll just follow someone,” Bracken said.
Bracken said he took up biking as a way to remain independent after surrendering his driver’s license. He hopes to give hope to others with his condition.
“Find ways to adapt,” was his message to others with his condition. “Take charge of your life and live it to the fullest… I adapted so I could live life to the fullest.”