Road Warriors

In Monroe County, Ill., some visitors are more welcome than others

Cyclists have done more than buy food. During the 1993 flood, cyclists helped fill sandbags in a futile attempt to keep Valmeyer dry, says Yarbrough, who organized the winery ride. When the floodwaters receded, cyclists held a benefit ride and donated a significant amount of money to the local Lions Club, he says. "A lot of people in positions of power don't understand how much help the cyclists have been in the past," Yarbrough says.

People who hold the power in neighboring Randolph County, where there are plenty of farmers and cyclists and no shortage of roads without shoulders, report no problems. Sheriff Benjamin Picou can't recall a single complaint about cyclists. "I think Randolph County is pretty pro- bicycle," he says. "We have a lot of riders. A lot of times, they'll have escort cars with them. No problem at all. We like to see them come through. They're all pretty professional, the ones that come through here. They've all got helmets. A lot of times they'll stop by and they'll tell us where they're from. We'll strike up a conversation with them and chat with them. It's interesting to find out where they live and how long their tours are."

Indeed, Picou, who grew up on a farm, says he has more problems with farmers who clog roads than he does with cyclists who get in the way. At least once a day, Picou says, deputies have to close a narrow Mississippi River bridge at Chester so farmers can get agricultural equipment across. "On the regular roads we have, there's always somebody out with loads of hay, agricultural equipment or something they're pulling down the highway. They seem to hold up more traffic than the cyclists do. If it's the agriculture people griping, they need to check their own backyards."

The Fountain Inn's Rick McClellan: "We're not all bad; they're not all bad. But riding down the middle of the goddamn road, flipping people off? Some of them don't make any sense."
The Fountain Inn's Rick McClellan: "We're not all bad; they're not all bad. But riding down the middle of the goddamn road, flipping people off? Some of them don't make any sense."
The Fountain Inn's Rick McClellan: "We're not all bad; they're not all bad. But riding down the middle of the goddamn road, flipping people off? Some of them don't make any sense."
Jennifer Silverberg
The Fountain Inn's Rick McClellan: "We're not all bad; they're not all bad. But riding down the middle of the goddamn road, flipping people off? Some of them don't make any sense."

Hendershot, who lives in Randolph County and commutes to Waterloo, says she doesn't get upset when she gets stuck behind a tractor that can add 20 minutes to her trip. "I understand that," she says. "They have to do that. That's part of their job. I don't act like an idiot and try to pass them at 90 mph." She wishes farmers and other motorists who use the same roads as cyclists could show a little more patience. "We have to share the road," she says.

Back at the Fountain Inn, McClellan contends it's the cyclists who need to learn to share. He recalls the time three cyclists moved from single file to three abreast when he tapped the horn of his motorcycle to warn them he was about to pass. "They tried to run me off the road," he fumes. "What's that all about?" Then there was the time he came around a curve and found a trio of cyclists standing on a bridge looking down at the creek -- if there'd been a car coming the other way, McClellan says, he would have had no choice but to take them out.

"I don't mind that the bicycles come here, but they need to respect the people more than they do," McClellan says. "We're not all bad; they're not all bad. But riding down the middle of the goddamn road, flipping people off? Some of them don't make any sense."

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