News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 12, 2014

Saddle up

Bike riders kick off 2014 Cover Indiana, a statewide pedaling fundraiser to benefit Habitat for Humanity

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — It’s not every day the weather provides a triple punch of heat, humidity and wind. But Monday, as dozens of sweating bicyclists arrived in Terre Haute from Crawfordsville, it did.

The riders are taking part in the weeklong Cover Indiana Bicycle Tour to benefit Habitat for Humanity of Indiana, an organization that helps lower-income families obtain affordable, new housing.

After spending the night in sleeping bags on the basement floor of the Centenary United Methodist Church on North Seventh Street, the bicyclists will head out this morning for Day 3 of their weeklong journey across much of the western half of the state.

“We love to support Habitat for Humanity,” said Jamile Shirley, who was enjoying snacks and drinks at the downtown Terre Haute church shortly after arriving there on her bicycle a little past 3 p.m. She and her husband, Stefan, traveled from Washington D.C., to take part in the ride, they said.

The riders, the churches playing host to them and the support vehicle operators are all wonderful people, the Shirleys said. That’s what makes the Cover Indiana Tour worth the trip from D.C., they said.

As the riders arrived at the church, volunteers were providing snacks, drinks and dinner in the church basement, while SpaHaute, a local business, was offering free, cooling, cryotherapy treatments to any riders with sore muscles.

For the approximately 70 bicyclists arriving in Terre Haute, their journeys started Sunday with a ride from West Lafayette to Crawfordsville. On Monday they rode from Crawfordsville through Rockville to Terre Haute, a distance of 71 miles. Their total trip – ending in Indianapolis this weekend – will total 380 miles.

“The wind was pretty brutal all day,” Stefan Shirley said, resting at the Centenary UMC Monday afternoon. A stiff headwind can add a lot of time to a long ride, the Shirleys said. You pedal just as hard but cover less distance, they said.

Each rider pays an entry fee to participate in the ride and is also asked to raise a minimum of $350 for Habitat for Humanity. The riders then select which Habitat office in the state to support with their donations.

It’s not yet known whether any donations will find their way to the Wabash Valley Habitat office, said Annette Houchin, executive director of the local office. She and her staff were providing breakfast to the riders this morning before they again hit the road.

“The riders raise money, but also awareness,” Houchin said. No matter how difficult the ride might be, “every year they keep coming back. Their dedication is just amazing.”

Today’s ride starts in Terre Haute and will end in Linton, where riders from the “northern route” will hook up with riders from the “southern route,” which started in Evansville. The two groups will then ride together to Bedford, Ellettsville, Plainfield and, finally, Indianapolis, where the tour finishes Saturday.

“How can you do anything better than to help people live in a good, decent home?” said Tony Wade, a second-year rider from Lafayette, who was relaxing Monday in the Centenary UMC basement with a snack and explaining why he enjoys taking part in the Habitat ride. A good, solid home is “the foundation of the family.”

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.