When Ryan Wright cycled onto a stage in San Antonio on February 23rd, he was greeted by Fellowship of Christian Athletes President Shane Williamson and thousands who had gathered for Realtime, the FCA staff conference held every two years. The ride concluded a two-week journey through six states and 1,480 miles but signaled a movement that is just beginning.
“I’ve been riding since the early 2000s and at this pace since 2015,” said the 50-year-old Wright, Multi-Area Director for Coastal South Carolina FCA. “Athletics has always been a part of my life.”
Ride to Realtime and other events encourage others to become part of FCA Cycling, a relatively new venture that began shortly after FCA updated its mission statement a few years ago.
“At Realtime 2018 it became, ‘To lead every coach and athlete into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church,’” Wright pointed out. “It is the focus on the every that began the FCA Cycling journey.”
Up to then, he explained, FCA operated in more traditional “stick-and-ball” sports cycling typically didn’t pop up on the FCA radar.
FCA Cycling’s first event came in 2019 with “The Carolina Excursion,” a 13-day trek of approximately 1,200 miles. No events took place in 2020 due to COVID-19, but early that year Wright had a conversation with Williamson that led to Ride to Realtime.
On February 9th, 2022, Wright began the ride from his home in Pawleys Island, S.C. to San Antonio. In addition to finishing, his objectives were to show others Jesus Christ as well as the impact being made by FCA across the country.
Staying on the road required some extra assistance. Seven Cycles, for instance, provided a custom-built bike to accommodate Wright’s frame.
“We were casting a vision, asking people to get involved with FCA Cycling, and Seven Cycles came to the forefront as did Paul Williams, a professional bike fitter in Largo, Fla.,” he said.
Wright’s wife Heather was his personal roadside assistant, driving 15-20 miles ahead to set up a planned stop and prepare food. Considering Wright burned over 20,000 calories while consuming 48 granola bars, 12 almond butter cookies, 14 pounds of spaghetti breakfasts and 92 peanut butter sandwiches while downing 60 bottles of water—Heather was crucial.
The physical nature took its toll on both man and vehicle. Wright had injured his knee in an early January ride but delayed surgery and gutted out the Ride to Realtime. The bike endured four flats and the rear wheel gave out 30 miles from the finish. The backup bike they had on-hand came up clutch.
Conversations along the way gave joy to the long and challenging journey.
“It was one of the most fulfilling components of this tour: to meet with host families and cast our vision with FCA,” reflected Wright. “The people were amazing and the interactions—the unity and hospitality—incredible.”
FCA Cycling has two upcoming events. The first is May 7 with Too Tough to Ride at the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. It will take place during NASCAR race weekend and will allow cyclists to ride a couple of laps around the track before exiting for their selected routes through Darlington and Lee counties. Registrants will also receive a ticket to the Xfinity Race that Saturday afternoon.
The 2nd annual Seashore to Summit – Reid Got it Right will occur June 24-26 from Pawleys Island, S.C. to Black Mountain, N.C. Proceeds will provide scholarships for coaches to attach FCA Coaches Camp in Black Mountain. The event is named in honor of FCA staff Reid Bowyer, who died of brain cancer and was instrumental to the camp.
Photos courtesy of Ryan Wright