To the thousands of people who pass him by, Bill Bihlman is just a brief encounter on a lonely stretch of America’s highways and byways. But, to the O’Connor House and the women who rely on it for their survival, Bill Bihlman is a lifesaver. For Bill, bicycling across America to raise funds for the O’Connor House is in his DNA. He is called to do it and will complete his marathon 4,000-mile journey before the end of June.
When I spoke to Bill as he pedaled through Indianapolis, he had just powered through mile 2,500 on his way to the end point; Virginia Beach, Va. His bike ride across America started on April 24 and Bill knew raising money for the O’Connor House would motivate him to keep riding. He said, “There is lots of time to think when riding on deserted secondary roads. I experience a range of emotions that go from very high to very low. I worry about my equipment holding out and my health. But, all I have to do is think about the people relying on me to finish, and I am driven to push on.” He spreads his message of humility, focus and patience, all key tenants for his ride.
The entire O’Connor House organization is relying on Bill to complete his ride because he has promised to raise $10,000 for them. The goal started out much lower, but the response from people willing to pledge dictated he raise the prize. And, although Bill is doing the hard work, longtime volunteer Diane Barnett gets to take credit for directing Bill toward the O’Connor House. Bill says, “Diane is a good friend of mine and she is always so enthusiastic about the O’Connor House. When I decided to ride for charity, O’Connor was a perfect fit.”
Bill started out camping each night and carried the necessary camping equipment with him. Fairly quickly, he realized the extra weight of the gear was no benefit when it comes to riding up and down hills. So, he ditched the gear and instead is sleeping in church basements and people’s homes. He also has been battling the weather which has a significant effect on the progress he makes each day.
It is not too late to get involved and help Bill meet his goal of $10,000 for the O’Connor House. Donations can be made through his website www.ridingforhope.com.