You can understand why Chuck Robinson, 67, might be feeling the winds of time blowing stronger these days.
Last weekend, he and his wife, Dee, celebrated the 35th anniversary of Village Books, the landmark Fairhaven business they started during an early-life change of jobs and scenery.
And on Monday, June 15, he will start bicycling to his 50-year high school reunion 2,400 miles away in Galva, a small town in western Illinois. Robinson’s bike trip will take two months, with some days off for rest and business, and a stop for Dee’s 50-year reunion in Hastings, Neb. He’s hoping for a tail wind most of the way.
Befitting the owner of a store known for its community service, Robinson has pledged to three different foundations $1 for every mile he rides, and he hopes other people will make per-mile pledges of their own.
He initially didn’t plan to turn his trip into a fundraiser, but he realized the two go hand-in-hand, with the added benefit of giving him extra incentive to pedal to the finish.
“Now I’ve got to do it,” Robinson said. “All of those people are depending on me.”
Dee Robinson, who is retired from the business, will drive along with her husband in their motorhome, carrying food and drinks, bicycle gear, mobile accommodations, and plenty of books to read.
The three foundations that will benefit from pledges are tied to Robinson’s childhood, adult life, and professional career:
▪ Galva Foundation for Educational Enrichment, which supports students and schools in his childhood town.
▪ Whatcom Community Foundation, which provides community grants and works with other local charitable organizations. Robinson is a board member.
▪ Book Industry Charitable Foundation, a national group that helps booksellers who face unexpected financial crises.
Donors can pledge money per-mile to one, two or all three of the foundations, and can make a pledge any time during Robinson’s trip.
Chuck and Dee rode bicycles years ago but had stowed them away. About seven years ago, Chuck decided to take up biking again more seriously. In the years since, he has undertaken numerous long-distance trips, including three Seattle-to-Portland rides and three Seattle-to-Vancouver rides, all organized by Cascade Bicycle Club of Seattle.
Five years ago, after his 45-year school reunion, Robinson wasn’t sure if he would attend his 50th in mid-August. But he started talking to bikers who had ridden for days on end, even cross-country, and became convinced he was up to the challenge and would enjoy the scenery and the experience.
He also is able to take a couple of months off for the trip. Robinson still works on marketing and planning for Village Books but no longer has day-to-day duties at the store.
“I’m taking more chunks of time away,” he said.
Robinson’s shortest mileage day on his itinerary is 30 miles in the mountains of western Montana. His longest day is 102 miles through the heart of North Dakota. He averages about 15 mph biking on normal terrain, so he hopes to start early each day to avoid much of the midday heat.
He rides a Specialized Roubaix, a lightweight road bike with 11 gears and a frame designed to absorb extra road shock.
“The Roubaix is sometimes referred to as an ‘old man’s bike,’” he said. “It has a lower gear, which is nice for me riding up hills.”
Bicycle trip send-off
People are encouraged to show up when Chuck Robinson, co-owner of Village Books, begins his 2,400-mile bicycle trip to Galva, Ill., for his high school reunion. Robinson has pledged $1 per mile to each of three foundations — Whatcom Community Foundation, Book Industry Charitable Foundation, and the Galva Foundation for Educational Enrichment — and hopes other people will make per-mile pledges to one, two or all three organizations.
A ceremony to mark his start will begin at 8 a.m. Monday, June 15, at Fairhaven Village Green. Coffee will be served and a short program will start at 8:15. Robinson plans to start his trip at 9 a.m. Other bicyclists are welcome to join him for all or part of his first-day, 79-mile ride to Newhalem.