Andre Block, 32, parked his bike with a trailer outside the Kroger grocery on Illinois Avenue. A duct-taped sign on the back of the trailer said, “Lynchburg to St. Louis for my son.” Dressed in biking shorts, a camel pack for water, a helmet, and a gleaming smile, Block laughed easily as he explained the sign.
He hadn’t been on a bike since he was 13 years old, he said, but took up the activity on May 8. The bike he had was in very poor shape, but he started training with a passion. During his training, he flipped his bike and trailer over once and nearly ran over Steve Bartholomew.
“I was going down a steep hill and saw Steve coming up it,” Block said. “That’s when I realized I didn’t have any brakes, so I yelled down ‘On your right!’ I should have said ‘On your left!” but it all worked out. I missed him, and I finally got the bike stopped.”
Bartholomew was so impressed with the positive-speaking Block, that he arranged for his Bible study group at Rivermont Evangelical Presbyterian Church to sponsor the trip. They bought Block a new bike, the trailer, and some provisions for the journey west.
Bob Barlow, the administrative director of the Central Virginia Free Clinic, was contacted by George Caylor, a member of the study group, who asked if the clinic would like to be the beneficiary of the money that Block eagerly offered to help raise during his trip.
Andre Block began his approximately 822-mile ride on July 31 and projects that he will arrive in St. Louis, “Hopefully I’ll be able to make it by September 1. Right now, I’m not looking forward to climbing that mountain. I don’t know how I’ll make it to the plateau, but I will.” Oak Ridge is 345 miles from his origin.
Andre Block Jr., 16, is anxiously awaiting the arrival of his father. “He’s a great kid,” Block said of Andre Jr. during an interview for The News and Advance of Lynchburg, Va. “He’s big into track and plays football, and he’s already doing biological research at the age of 16. Going out to see him on the bicycle is my way of showing him how much I care about him. He’s excited that I’m doing it.”