Couple aims to raise money for children's home with ride across America

Catharine Schaidle

Jerry and Lynne Lisenby are probably the only people in Peoria hoping it will rain next weekend.

That's because they are taking a 40-mile bicycle trip as a test run for their forthcoming 5,100 mile trans-America ride on May 1.

"We will be riding in all kinds of weather and we have to (be) prepared for the worst," said Jerry Lisenby.

Having served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and traveling to disaster areas all over the country with the American Red Cross, the Lisenbys are preparing to bike 5,000 miles across America to raise money for the Children's Home Association of Illinois.

Jerry Lisenby, who gained Hollywood-style fame after shedding 90-some pounds over six months through "The Biggest Loser" television show, said, "We got used to bike-riding when we lived in Paraguay for two years. They asked us to choose between a horse or a bicycle. Since we didn't want to bother with the upkeep and cleaning up after a horse, we chose the bicycle, and we've been riding ever since."

Lynne Lisenby has been cycling for the past 14 years and is not overly concerned that she may not be able to complete the ride.

"I'm used to riding every day," she said. "It's not unusual for Jerry and me to ride for six or seven hours. But the safety issue concerns me because the Trans-Am is not like riding on the Rock Island Trail. You're going to be riding along streets, although more likely (it will be on) the back roads."

The couple will ride a little farther than the Trans-Am trail, which starts in Yorktown, Va., and ends in Astoria, Ore. In June, though, they plan to make a quick return trip for Lynne's mother's 90th birthday.

"We don't know where we'll be then, probably in southern Illinois, but we'll decide when we get there," she said.

The Lisenbys organized their trip with the help of the Adventure Cycling Association.

"I didn't know how to go about this until I found them," Jerry Lisenby said.

Midwest Orthopedics has helped them acquire special cycling attire from Gore Bike Wear.

The Lisenbys call their 11-state tour, "Age is Just a Number" because at 61 and 63, they are doing things that generally only younger people have aspired to attempt.

"We only have a few more years before we can do these things, so we have to do it now," he said.

They hope to collect donations along the way to benefit the Children's Home, where Lynne works. Jerry Lisenby has scheduled several speaking engagements, and the fees from those also will go toward the Children's Home in Peoria.

Catharine Schaidle can be reached at (309) 686-3290 or