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Cyclists pass through Henry County on their way to 'living the dream'

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By Tommie Kendall

At the end of another long day of cycling last Monday night, with hundreds of miles behind them and hundreds more still ahead, Matthew Case and Eric Brewer decided to call it a night. The duo, in a far place away from home as college students from Utah, were in New Castle and needed a place to stay when they spotted the Henry County Local. Bingo. There — hidden behind a building that used to be a restaurant before the Local relocated there in the mid-1970s — they gave their tired legs a needed break, unloaded their bikes, put up a tent and rested for the night. While cars continued to whiz by Monday night and into the early Tuesday morning light, it was definitely a well-deserved stop for the long-distance cyclists. By looking at the pair huffing and puffing along the roadway — through the countryside or along a busy highway — its obvious to bystanders that they aren’t your typical bikers out for a Sunday morning stroll. Their loaded-down bikes full of gear, which includes sleeping bags, extra clothes and a tent, along with their steady pace lets all those around know that they’re in for a long haul. But what exactly they are doing remains a mystery to most. For Case and Brewer, friends since the age of 4, it’s a dream come true to bike across the country. They started in Florence, Ore., on May 10 and plan to arrive at Carolina Beach, N.C., within the next few weeks. During the 3,000-plus miles journey, they average about 75 miles per day. They will go from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, which will take roughly two months. Their cause is simple: to inspire others by fulfilling a life-long dream. “We aren’t riding for a charity or anything like that, just to let people know that they can live their dreams — whatever they are,” a tired but bright-eyed Case said while preparing to leave from the Local Tuesday morning. “Hopefully people will look at us and do whatever they dream of doing. This is our dream.” Case attends LDS Business College in Salt Lake City, while Brewer goes to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Their summer cross-country adventure brought them to Henry County last week, where they happened to settle for the night behind the lone newspaper in the county. On their blog www.livingthedreamonabike.blogspot.com, which Case and Brewer update frequently throughout the trip, here was part of an entry from June 25, five days before reaching New Castle: “Life is good ... do I say that a lot? Well I mean it. Last night we pitched our tent in a large field behind Wal-Mart on top of a mound, in a grove of pine trees. And in the middle of the night I felt a drop of water on my head and we put the rain fly on just in time for the thunderstorm. It was relaxing to go back to sleep listening to the heavy thunder and pitter patter of the rain on our tent.” For some, living the dream might mean visiting another country, going skydiving, writing a tell-all book, running a marathon, going back to school, starting that exercise program you’ve been putting off, making that leap into another job or finally taking that dream vacation. For Case and Brewer, living the dream means biking across the country, listening to the rain fall on a tent — exactly what they’re doing. Last Tuesday morning, they checked their route on a computer inside the Local, took a brief pause outside the building to get everything situated on their bikes, posed for a picture, then pedaled towards their destination. They passed through Henry County, riding along Highway 55 into New Castle, Eminence, and onto Shelbyville, where they headed east on Highway 60. When they left the Local, and slowly disappeared around the corner heading towards Eminence and became a distant memory, I started to reminisce on my own solo bike ride back in 2005. Besides my wedding and my baby’s birth, it was one of the best weeks of my life as I biked from Shelbyville to Florida. It was tough — that’s for sure — but it was living life a little on the edge, even if it was for a short while. In a crazy way, I can relate to Case and Brewer, which brings a smile to my face as I nod and think about that week three summers ago. Case and Brewer will continue to ride into the sunset each day until they reach their own finish line. For now, they’re just two guys living the dream, pedaling away. And along the way, hoping to inspire others to do the same. Tommie can be reached at sports@hclocal.com.