Greg Shaw

Illinois Wesleyan Professor Enters Appalachians In Cross-Country Bicycle Ride

June 1, 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 e-mail from Shaw, who was in West Virginia on Wednesday, June 1:

HUR, West Virginia – The road has brought me to my dad's place in the central part of West Virginia. Today is a much needed rest day. The final push through the mountains begins in the morning. Six days to go.

It seems I wrote last from Oklahoma ... Kansas was pleasant: gently rolling hills, friendly people, and good roads. I crossed into Missouri about 60 miles south of Kansas City and caught the Katy Trail, a former railroad bed now converted into a bike path, in Clinton. Three days of no car traffic was wonderful. I met a former college professor of mine at Booneville, alongside the Missouri River, and rode with him for parts of 2 days. The companionship was great.

Crossing the Mississippi into Illinois at Alton was very emotional. It was so good to be near home again. There also seemed a special sigificance to being on the east side of that geographic boundary. I met a friend [Jim Simeone, IWU associate professor of political science] at Alton, and he rode with me all the way to Cincinnati. Jim is a great companion and terrific athlete. I think he enjoyed the trip. We arrived in Cincinnati in the late afternoon and dealt with about 2 hours of city traffic, bumpy roads and the like to arrive at the home of some friends who live there now. Mollie and the kids met us there as well. That was a very happy, if brief, interlude. I headed east the next morning, solo, and Jim, Mollie and the kids headed back to Bloomington.

Riding along the Ohio River gave a nice break from hills, though I also took the opportunity to go "inland" a bit to visit the southern Ohio town where my grandparents (and Ulysses Grant, by the way) grew up, another town founded by my great-great-great grandfather, and the burial place of my paternal grandparents in yet another place. That was all good.

Crossing into West Virginia the day before yesterday was significant in that my dad lives here, but it also marks the beginning of the Appalachians. The road rose and fell quite a bit yesterday, and over the next few days I'll reach the eastern continental divide and then southern Pennsylvania. Rain is in the forecast for Thursday and Friday. Yuck.

The plan is to arrive in New York on Tuesday. My brother from Massachusetts will meet me in New Jersey, and my New York friends will put me up for a night (so they say ... :) before I hop on the train for home. I bought the train ticket this morning, so I guess this great adventure is coming to an end. Only about 500 miles to go.

People across the country have been very good to me (with the exceptions of those pesky motorists who don't care to share the road), and I've had my spirits lifted by their generosity. I've also been very encouraged by the money raised for McLean County Habitat -- over $4,100 -- through all this. Thanks for all your support.

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.

Read First Dispatch

Read Second Dispatch

Read Third Dispatch

Read Fourth Dispatch