This June, Algonquin resident Mike Ainsworth will embark on a 420-mile cycling trip along the greater part of the Grand Illinois Trail.
He aims to educate people about Heifer International, a nonprofit that provides livestock, seeds and trees to global communities in need.
Ainsworth, 54, has now been cycling for about 25 years.
“I like cycling because you can rest, you can coast down a hill, and you get to see different areas,” he said.
Ainsworth, a self-proclaimed history buff, often bikes with his wife, Beverly.
“As a child, I always enjoyed boy scouts and being outdoors,” he said. “There’s a lot of rich history along the trail.”
This trip, however, will be more about nature and history. Ainsworth hopes to educate people about Heifer International.
Ainsworth first became familiar with the nonprofit through his friend Richard Eyre, owner of Rich’s Foxwillow Pines Nursery in Woodstock. Eyre and his wife, Susan, are former trustees of Heifer International and have spent time in Honduras visiting project sites.
Eyre was delighted to hear about Ainsworth’s bike tour and mission.
“I think it’s just fantastic,” he said. “It’s wonderful that [Ainsworth] would think of this and do this.”
Donors can select gifts like goats, chicks, honeybees and trees for communities suffering from poverty and hunger. Heifer provides education and training on how to use these resources and share them with the rest of the community. The offspring of the animals are then donated to others in the community.
“It’s a gift that keeps on giving,” Ainsworth said. “Within 3 years, one goat can become 10 goats. You conquer a mountain one step at a time, not in one big leap.”
Ainsworth is using his trip primarily to educate people about Heifer.
“I don’t want to take money from people,” he said. “Especially in economic hard times. I don’t want to be a traveling salesman—I want to be an educator.”
This cycling tour will be the longest one yet for Ainsworth. His tour is “unsupported,” meaning that he will carry all of his camping and cooking gear with him. There are campgrounds along the trail that Ainsworth will utilize during his trip.
Ainsworth will begin his trip in Joliet on June 16. He will travel west to the Quad Cities, and from there, he will continue north to Galena and west to Richmond. He will then head south to finish in downtown Algonquin. He expects to arrive in Algonquin on June 28.
He invites people to join him at any point along the trail.
“There are plenty of places to hop on or off the trail,” he said. “The trail is beautiful. The topography is always changing.”
Ainsworth welcomes those interested in riding with him to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.