Greg Shaw

Illinois Wesleyan Professor Crosses Mississippi In Cross-Country Bicycle Ride

May 25, 2005

Greg Shaw, associate professor of political science at Illinois Wesleyan, is riding his bicycle across America to raise money for Habitat for Humanity of McLean County.

Shaw, who is faculty adviser for the campus Habitat for Humanity chapter, departed San Diego on May 2 and plans to arrive in New York City on June 8. He will average nearly 90 miles a day over 35 days of riding, totaling almost 3,100 miles through desert, mountains and plains.

The following is an update received from Shaw via cell phone on Wednesday, May 25:

May 25:

Oklahoma was fairly uneventful. I struggled with some headwinds in northeast Oklahoma and southeast Kansas, but it was fine otherwise. I was able to go far enough north in Kansas to skirt most of the hills of the Ozarks; it was mostly gently rolling farmland.

Missouri was great. I took the KATY trail. It's a state park, about 220 miles long; it's a great bike path that goes almost all the way across the state. For three days I had no traffic, virtually no wind because there was a canopy of trees. It was really nice; the wildlife was interesting.

I ended up in the historic city of St. Charles, Missouri.

Things are going nicely. I came across the Mississippi River yesterday, about noon. It was an emotional thing. Alton at the river marked my two-thirds-of-the-way point. I was really tickled to come across the river - although I had a flat tire on the way from a piece of glass. I met Jim Simeone [IWU associate professor of political science] at 1:00. We gut some grub and headed out, and rode about 20 miles.

Last night, we stayed in a little town right off 55. Jim and I got into a city park last night where we were hoping to camp. We asked a couple people where we might pitch a tent. This older gentleman said, “I know some people, we'll call.”

He took us out a quarter-mile west of town, to his metal fabricator plant. We got to camp next to his factory, use his facilities, and he gave me a half-hour tour of the factory. He was a nice guy, so he put us up for the night, sort of.

Jim and I rode back into town (last night) and went to a bar. Who was there to entertain us but an Elvis impersonator - a guy in a red sequined one-piece jumpsuit with flared legs. He sang to us for about an hour.

Now we're in southern Illinois, near Greenville. From here, we're headed to Vandalia this morning, which was the second state capital of Illinois.

Basically, it's plain. We've seen a lot of wheat, some corn, some forestland, a lot of creeks and rivers, a lot of bottomland, rolling down to the creeks.

Tomorrow evening, we'll be in Vincennes, Indiana. So far so good. We're going to face a headwind today.

It's going really well. I'm so excited to be in Illinois.

Every dollar donated will be used to support construction of the Habitat for Humanity house by IWU and ISU students, their 10th house in 10 years of the universities' partnership. Pledges marked “Collegiate House” can be sent to Habitat for Humanity of McLean County, Attn: Bruce Williams, assistant director, 410 N. Prairie St., Bloomington IL 61701.

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