Life on Two Wheels

For years bicycling has been a popular outdoor activity with individuals, couples and families taking to the road on two wheels. Most people ride for recreation or health reasons, however for the following McKendree alum and professor, their passions for pedaling have ignited a deeper purpose within - raising funds and awareness for organizations close to their hearts.

Lives in Tandem

Photo of Krystal Goodwin and Michael TiemeyerKrystal Goodwin ’04 and Michael Tiemeyer met on a charity bicycle ride from Michigan to Florida during the summer of 2009 that changed the course of their lives and marked the beginning of a new adventure together. Shortly after the bicycle ride, the two started dating and Krystal, originally from Belleville, Ill., relocated to Savannah, Ga. where Michael teaches at a local University and she is a chiropractor. The couple tied the knot on May 20, 2011 and decided to mark the way they met and honor the organization that brought them together by spending their honeymoon on a nine-week, cross-country bicycle tour.

Photo of Krystal Goodwin and Michael TiemeyerAlong with 20 other cyclists, the duo pedaled their way across the country as part of the 4th annual Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure (FCBA) from June 10 through Aug. 15, 2011. The ride, a 3,600 mile journey from Seattle, Wash. to Washington, D.C., raised funds and awareness for The Fuller Center for Housing, an ecumenical Christian group based out of Americus, Ga. that seeks to eradicate poverty housing by promoting partnerships with individuals and community groups to build and rehabilitate homes for people in need.

The riders raised money individually prior to the trip and along the way by talking to people across the country about their cause. After averaging nearly 80 miles a day riding their bikes, the cyclists gave community presentations, stayed overnight in churches, and worked on seven housing projects.

Photo of Krystal Goodwin“The FCBA allowed me to get my hands dirty working on actual Fuller Center homes helping actual people, spreading the Fuller Center message along the way,” said Krystal. “That’s the beauty of this particular “adventure,” the rewards are tremendous!”

While this was the second bike adventure for the couple, the road to Washington D.C. had its bumps. In June, on their way to Seattle, the van they were riding in was involved in a rollover accident near Boise, Idaho. Fortunately no one was seriously injured, however the van and the attached trailer with all of their bikes and gear were damaged beyond repair—including Krystal’s bicycle. Undeterred, the couple purchased a tandem bike. Michael always wanted to ride a tandem, but his wife needed convincing. “I was reluctant,” Krystal said. “I had never ridden on one in my life. Michael and some others managed to convince me.”

The couple likened tandem riding to marriage itself and admitted that spending the first few months of their marriage sharing a bicycle taught them a lot about how to be together.

“Communication was a big thing,” Michael said, “just like marriage, we had to take two individual styles and merge them together.”

In late July, the couple experienced another bump along the way when Krystal’s dad suffered a stroke. Fortunately, the couple had just arrived in Quincy, Ill. when they received the news and family members were able to meet them and drive them back to Belleville to be with the rest of the family. The couple took a week off before rejoining the rest of the pack in Ohio. Finally, on Aug. 14, the group reached its destination in Washington D.C.

While cycling brought Krystal and Michael together initially, it has taught them how to negotiate marriage for the long haul and go the distance.

Pedaling with a Purpose

Photo of George FeroGeorge Fero can be seen riding his silver bicycle around Lebanon throughout the year. For most people a bike ride is just a quick way to get from place to place, however for this McKendree education professor it is a journey toward a healthier life and community. After having not ridden a bicycle since grade school, George began regularly riding his bicycle about five years ago to lose weight and control his diabetes. “I started by riding from my home to the office and now I average 10 miles a day,” said George. “In two years, I lost 50 pounds and my diabetes dosage dropped in half.”

What initially started as a healthy hobby for George has turned into a passion for cycling. Over two years, he has pedaled more than 3,000 miles. In 2010, he participated in a weeklong, solo, self-contained, 200-mile ride on the Katy Trail from Sedalia, Mo. to St. Charles, Mo. The ride was an adventure. “I rode during the hottest week of the year and experienced four major thunderstorms in the first 36 hours, including 60 mph winds the first night,” George said. “I was even chased by two dogs along the trail.”

This past summer, George’s son joined him on the Katy Trail ride. The duo rode 200 miles over four days, including 72 miles in one day. George and his son are planning an extended, six-day ride this summer from the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in North St. Louis County to Millennium Park in Chicago, Ill. The 368-mile ride, along Route 66, will cover trails, roads and highways.

In addition to riding, George is also involved with multiple outreach, fundraising and lobbying efforts related to bicycling. As a board member of the League of Illinois Bicyclists, George was invited to participate in a four member Illinois delegation that lobbied in front of Congress at the 2011 National Bicycling Summit in Washington D.C. He is the Tour de Cure Illinois Acquisitions Chair and a recruiter of bicyclists for the annual ride that raises funds and awareness for diabetes research. To date, he has participated in two 50-mile Tour de Cure rides and has personally raised $1,740 for the organization.

He is also a member of the Ridge Prairie Trailhead Initiative (RPTI) board of directors, along with Professor Duane Olson. Formed in 2010, the 40 member group includes Lebanon residents, representatives from Metro-East bicycling clubs, civic leaders and bicycling advocacy groups. RPTI’s goal is to develop bicycle and pedestrian routes and trails that will establish Lebanon as a hub for regional biking and walking/running
enthusiasts. George is responsible for promoting RPTI through the group’s website,; Facebook and Google ads; and word-of-mouth marketing in the community.

In 2010, the group developed the Lebanon Safe Streets Initiative, which is funded by a grant from the St. Clair County Pioneering Healthier Communities Grant Program. The grant provided funding for Share the Road signs for over five miles of designated shared bikeways in Lebanon, a mailing of bicycle and pedestrian safety information to all Lebanon households, and the development of a community survey. A future RPTI goal is to extend the Engle Creek/College Road Trail from College Rd. to Rieder Rd. “It will be a safe bike route to O’Fallon,” said George.

“There is currently no safe way to ride a bicycle east, west or south from Lebanon.”

The next Ridge Prairie Trailhead Initiative, the Spring Walk N’ Ride, will be held on May 19, 2012 on the McKendree campus.