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April 23, 2012

Riding for the Mother Road

Filed under: bicycling,Illinois — Tags: — Roger @ 2:35 pm

Litchfield (Ill.) City Administrator Andy Ritchie is about to set off on a 2,367-mile bicycle journey on Route 66 to raise money for the Litchfield Museum & Route 66 Museum. Why?

“My family has been in the Litchfield area since the 1830s ,so I have a heart for this City,” Andy said. ”Litchfield is planning on building a city museum/Route 66 welcome center and needs help raising $500,000. I considered riding Route 66 sometime in the future because I’m a long- distance bike rider and it goes through my city, so these two thoughts merged into riding the Mother Road now to support the fund-raising effort.”

Andy, a Navy retiree, will start his journey May 6 at the Santa Monica Pier and return to Litchfield on June 3. After a brief stop in Litchfield to take care of city business, he plans to finish the trip June 10 in Chicago.

He’s enlisted help from one of America’s greatest ultramarathon cyclists, two-time Race Across America winner Lon Haldeman — he won the first race in 1982 when it was known as the Great American Bicycle Race and won it again in 1983 — to plot his route.

These days, Lon and his wife, two-time RAAM champion Susan Notorangelo, operate PAC Tour, which puts on a long-distance tours in the United States. Two of the tours are on Route 66, one that takes cyclists from Santa Monica, Calif., to Amarillo, Texas, and the other takes cyclists from Amarillo to Chicago.

Because Adventure Cycling’s Bicycle Route 66 is still under development, Andy turned to Lon for help and he came through in a big way. Lon provided maps and technical information — Did you know there are 314 traffic signals between the Santa Monica Pier and the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, Calif? — that Andy will use to plot his trip.

“Lon has taken a lot of the grief out of  the ride,” Andy said. “There’s still the grief of being on the road and riding through the mountains and the deserts and not being able to call Lon. Lon Haldeman of PAC Tour is helping me immensely.”

Andy will be riding an Easy Racers Gold Rush recumbent on his journey. Years ago, he rode 420 miles on the Pacific Coast Trail on a Trek bicycle, but he since found road bikes cause too much tingling in his hands and lots of neck pain. That’s why he’s on a recumbent.

Accompanying Andy on his will be his wife, Pam. She will be driving a van filled with 30 days worth of supplies and spare parts. River Pilot Tours is helping out with software for his GPS that identifies attractions and stopping points along the way.

Organizers and city officials broke ground today for the Litchfield Museum & Route 66 Museum. When completed, the museum will include pieces of the Central Illinois community’s history with a special emphasis on Route 66. Many of the items for the museum will be donated by the family of Dave Jackson, the former editor of the Litchfield News-Herald, according to an article in the (Springfield, Ill.) State-Journal Register.

The museum will be built at the site of the former Vic Suhling gas station across Route 66 from the landmark Ariston Cafe. The only thing still standing on the gas station site is the “Vic” Suhling Gas for Less sign.

As mentioned earlier, Andy is raising money for the museum. You can download this pledge form (PDF file) and mail it and your donation to the Litchfield Museum & Route 66 Welcome Center, P.O. Box 43, Litchfield, IL 62056. Donations as little as a penny a mile will be accepted.

Andy also would welcome cycling partners along the way. If interested, you can contact him at bentrider4ever@gmail.com.

To read more about Andy, take a look at this statement (PDF file) he sent me.

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1 Comment »

  1. [...] cyclist hitting his goals";reddit_newwindow="1"; Back in April, I told you the story of Andy Ritchie, who was planning a bicycle trip the length of Route 66 to raise money for the construction of the [...]

    Pingback by Roger Kramer Cycling: The Blog Page — June 4, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

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