While the peloton of the Tour De France rode from Vise to Tournai Friday, a peloton of a different sort was pulling into Flora, when 76 riders of the deCycles annual trip came to town, spending the night at Flora First Christian Church.
The deCycles riders are teens and their adult advisors/chaperones, who are riding across much of the U.S. This group, based in the Bloomington, Ind. area, has held long-distance bicycle rides for teens for 43 years.
This year’s ride is a long one, running 2,100 miles from San Francisco back to Indiana. The leg they departed on from Flora Saturday morning was their second-to-final one, heading to Washington, Ind.
The Flora to Washington journey was about 80 miles. “That’s an easy one,” said the group’s director, Norm Houze. “100 miles, that’s about average.”
In 2011 and 2012 trips, Houze said that the riders crossed the country. In 2011, they went from Bloomington, Ind., to Niagara Falls, N.Y. This year, their journey is the Western half of that trip across the nation.
“So if you went on both, you did a coast-to-coast trip,” Houze said.
One particularly arduous leg of the group’s journey was 181 miles, roughly a week prior to their arrival in Flora, which took them more than 14 hours on the bike.
Houze said that due to the group’s history, it isn’t advertised and riders sign up through word of mouth. Most are from the Bloomington area, but that’s not required, it’s just where it started. It’s an interfaith effort that seeks to challenge its young riders physically, mentally and spiritually.
“It’s a youth development program,” said Houze. “It’s not a club, it’s just a once-a-year event. You sign up, you’re in it, and you’re done. Some will come back.”
The ride is a monumental effort, and helps to show it’s riders what they are made of. Preparing requires a lot of effort and training too. “You can’t just sign up for this in April,” Houze said, “You have to sign up for it in January. We’ve got incredible riders here.”