SOUTHERN ILLINOIS -- A team of cyclists touring the country coast to coast to promote affordable housing recently passed through the region, enjoying the sights and helping to build a Habitat for Humanity home.
Bike & Build is an organization that promotes tours across the U.S. each summer. Each cyclist raises money to pay for the trip, and spends a portion of the trip in communities helping to construct homes for organizations like Habitat for Humanity.
Recently, the group stayed over in Harrisburg before continuing on through Carbondale and then to Missouri.
Last year, the Harrisburg First Presbyterian Church hosted the group while the cyclists worked on Habitat homes in Williamson and Jackson counties.
This year, the group arrived in Harrisburg June 20 and stayed for the evening, according to church member Kerry Camp, who helped organize the group's stay in the church annex and documented part of their time in Harrisburg.
Bike & Build members said they enjoyed the evening.
"We ate a lovely dinner of Alfredo veggies, and salad, with live music they had arranged for entertainment," team member Amanda Pumphrey wrote in a blog. "We were joined by state Sen. Dale Fowler, who provided the catered dinner. After dinner and desert, a couple of our riders and the hosts showed off some dance skills to augment the live music. Overall, it was a wonderful day to ride into and be warmly welcomed into Illinois."
The next day, the group continued west to Carbondale.
"We got to ride on a nice little bike trail for about 20 miles of the journey, which was a nice change of pace, although it was a bit slower," team member Lisa Rhonemus wrote. "We got to have a nice little lunch stop at a Masonic Lodge where we were gifted ice by some neighbors and another local stopped by and gave us the downlow on Carbondale and gave food and bike shop recommendations.
"Once in Carbondale we stayed at the Delta Zeta sorority house on Southern Illinois University's campus. We took to our abode for the night quickly and got to know the town as we walked to Italian Village for a donated meal. It was quite a flavorful shop where we got to leave our mark, as the restaurant allows customers to autograph the walls and ceilings. We finished off the night by spending quality time with our teammates playing games, having refreshments, and singing songs."
Camp, the Bike & Build group's contact in Harrisburg, kept in touch with the bikers and gave them recommendations regarding route changes. Due to flooding, the original route along the Mississippi River at Chester had been closed. Camp said he had recommended crossing the bridge at Cape Girardeau, though it, too, closed.
"Fortunately, the bridge at Chester reopened, so they ended up being able to use their original route," Camp said.
Camp said he and the church hope to continue to host the group each year.
"It's a wonderful organization, and they do a lot of good wherever they go," Camp said. "We enjoy getting to visit with them when they pass through."
The team continues to maintain a blog which may be found online at HTTPS://cus19.home.blog/ for those interested in following the cyclist's progress.