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The Clay County Advocate - Press-Flora, IL
  • "Ordinary Bike" trip

  • Texas man attempts an extra-ordinary feat: riding an 'Ordinary Bicycle' from the Mexican to Canadian Border
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  • It was no ordinary sight when Steve Carter of Alamo, TX was spotted dressed in vintage Victorian era garb and riding an "Ordinary Bicycle"--an enormous wheel on the front and a very small wheel on the back-- along the shoulder of Route 50 near the Flora McDonalds Wednesday morning.
    He is riding to the Wheelmen National Convention in Waukesha, WI, near Milwaukee. He believes he may be the first man to ride this type of bicycle from the Mexican Border to the Canadian Border--just in case the Guinness World Record people might be reading.
    Carter left Alamo, TX where he lives 17 days ago and plans to meet up with the Wheelmen in Waukesha when their national convention begins on July 16.
    "I try to get up between 6:00 and 6:30 AM and take off and ride," Carter said. "I average 10 miles per hour and ride between 60 and 70 miles per day."
    Wednesday morning, when spotted in Flora, he'd already ridden from Fairfield.
    "I don't camp out," he added. "I stay in motels and eat in restaurants."
    His plan on Wednesday was to make it to Effingham and to find a Mexican restaurant so he could watch the World Cup Argentina vs. Netherlands. He planned to root for the Netherlands because of family ties to that country. (They were beaten by Argentina in that game on Wednesday.)
    Until Wednesday morning, he thought the roughest part of his trip was in Texas where he encountered some rough chip and seal.
    "But 10 miles back on Route 45 I ran into some more road construction and pavement that was rougher than cobblestone," he related. "I ended up walking about four miles."
    Although the thin shoe leather saddle seat looked uncomfortable he said it wasn't because there are springs under the seat.
    "My legs do get tired, though," he said regarding the length of reach to the pedals.
    Mounting the bike is also a little unusual. He steps on a little protrusion on the back and climbs onto the seat.
    The Wheelmen, a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping alive the heritage of American cycling, encourages its members to ride to their events and to wear vintage Victorian clothing.
    "I should get the award for riding the longest distance," he noted.
    Dressed in knickers and a long sleeved button down cotton shirt, he said the outfit was really rather cool because air is able to get under the loose fitting shirt and cool him off when he is perspiring.
    "We're trying to recreate the golden age of bicycling," Carter noted. "There should be approximately 200 bicycles like this type at the convention."
    He also admits to carrying a few modern day inventions with him such as solar powered lights and plastic water bottles. He carries some snacks in a small leather pouch attached behind the seat of the bicycle. And his wife, Carolyn, accompanies him along the route in a pickup truck that he plans to ride back to Texas in following the final stretch of his trip to the Canadian Border.
    Page 2 of 2 - He also wears modern day sneakers and a plastic bicycle helmet.
    "I'm probably safer on this type of bicycle than a modern day bicycle, because of the height," he noted.
    Carter, a retired fire fighter, is no novice at taking long distance trips--in 1992 he traveled cross country from California to Boston, MA--3,428 miles.
    "I was much younger then," he stated with a laugh.
    He also collects antique bicycles. When he retired, he downsized his collection from 60 bicycles dated pre-1900s to 20.
    "I still have the top 20," Carter quipped.
    He began his hobby 25 years ago and began riding a reproduction of an "Ordinary Bicycle". He bought the bicycle he's riding on this trip in 1986 for $1,500.
    The Wheelman National Convention runs from July 16 through July 20. The club, which celebrates antique cycling, was founded in 1967 by 12 men mainly from the Philadelphia, PA area. Today the club boasts more than 1,000 members.
    They are dedicated to keeping alive the heritage of American cycling, promoting the restoration and riding of early cycles manufactured prior to 1918.

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