Greg Shaw

Illinois Wesleyan Professor's Cross-Country Bicycle Ride Nears Completion

June 6, 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 7 – a day ahead of his original schedule. He will average nearly 90 miles a day over 35 days of riding, totaling more than 3,200 miles through desert, mountains and plains.

The following is an e-mail from Shaw, who was in Pennsylvania on Monday, June 6:

NEW HOPE, Pa. – It's Monday afternoon, and I'm writing from New Hope, Pennsylvania, on the Delaware River. New Jersey is just across the way. I'll be in NYC by mid-afternoon tomorrow.

A quick review: the Appalachians were difficult. It rained most of the time, cool temps, lots of loose dogs, no shoulders on the roads, 9 and 10% grades that go on for a half-hour to 45 minutes ... you get the picture. Pennsylvania has been a great contrast: gently rolling farmland, picturesque small towns, 200-year old houses and barns built of stone, and Amish buggies here and there. I'll remember this part of the trip fondly.

Looking back over the past five weeks I've come to a few realizations. One of them is how much travel can change a person. Here's my list:

You know you've been on the road a long time when ...

  • you think clean, fresh water that DOESN'T taste like Gatoraide is peculiar
  • a hot shower is a real treat, and a $19.95 motel room looks very appealing
  • you can recite the most common forms of roadkill, by region of the country
  • you get a little flutter of excitement when you catch a glimpse of the next town's water tower in the distance
  • you get a big flutter of excitement when you catch a glimpse of the next town's cell phone tower in the distance
  • sleeping on the ground seems normal; staying up beyond sunset doesn't
  • a 2-foot wide shoulder on the road to ride on is cause for celebration
  • homesickness occupies one's thoughts at least as much as anything else

I'm grateful for all of you who have been supportive of this trip in various ways. The past 3200+ miles have gone by much easier knowing how many people have pitched in to make both the fundraising and the other parts of this trip a success.

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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