Dr. George Fero - Vice President
Dr. George Fero is a founding member of Gateway East Trails (GET) and has served as vice-president for the non-profit organization for the past 10 years. The group originally set out to develop trails to connect Lebanon, IL, with other nearby communities, designed to allow cyclists and pedestrians to safely travel in and out of Lebanon.
"I believe that a trail that connects Lebanon to O'Fallon, IL -- combined with the trail we now have to the east and a potential route to the south -- are essential to making Lebanon a cycling hub for the region, thus increasing the economic vitality of the city," said the 72-year-old educator.
There was a time, not so long ago, when the bike enthusiast could hardly pedal his way to nearby Horner Park in Lebanon. Total destination from his Lebanon home and back: 3.2 miles. What should take but a few minutes to complete...
"It probably took me 45 minutes," he now says with a laugh.
Weight and health issues forced the McKendree University instructor to find a way to change his lifestyle, so in 2008, he purchased a Giant Suede and started cycling more frequently. Since then he lost a lot of weight, traversed the Katy Trail twice, and graduated to a Specialized Secteur Elite bike. In 2010, he rode in Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), considered one of the largest bike-touring events in the world. He also did the inaugural Bike Across Missouri ride, and participates in numerous weekly rides around the region including Tour de Cure, the Great Cycling Challenge, and Pedal the Cause.
"For me, bicycling saved my life and has become a real passion," said Fero. "I have a coffee mug that reads 'WARNING: May Start Talking About Cycling!'"
Fero served on the planning committee for Tour de Cure St Louis for six years. He is a certified League Cycling Instructor (LCI 5012) and has been on the board of directors for Ride Illinois (formerly the League of Illinois Bicyclists) since 2011. Until knee and hip replacements slowed him down, Fero was averaging about 2,000 miles a year on his four bikes that now include two electric-assist bikes
"The assist kicks on only when pedaling and I want or need it," said Fero, noting he has a full-size Flash bike and a Cyclamatic compact folding bike.
This year Fero hopes to get close to the 2,000 miles he rode four years ago.
"I think it's possible," he said.
Fero and his wife Marie can often be found staffing rest areas for Trailnet-sponsored rides. Marie Fero also staffs the lunch ticket table for the Tour de Stooges rides.
Fero is still employed full-time as a Professor of Education at McKendree University, where he is in his 20th year. This is his 51st year as an educator. He holds degrees from Youngstown State University, Ohio State University, and Northern Arizona University. Fero has taught high school instrumental music and served as a school district assistant superintendent and superintendent. He has been in higher education since 1988, including service as a director of teacher education student services, division chair, assistant dean of a regional campus, and dean of a school of education. He also served as a board member for state and national teacher educator associations. Fero also gets to travel around the country serving on and leading national educator preparation accreditation teams.
In his spare time, George is an AARP Safe Driving volunteer, and as a trained mechanic, he rebuilds bicycles that he gives away to those in need to use as a gift or for transportation. Last, but not least, he serves as an alderman on the Lebanon City Council.
One of his riding goals is to organize a small group to do a five- or six-day Route 66 venture from the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St Louis, MO, to Millennium Park in Chicago, IL, about 306 miles.
"That's still on my bucket list," he said.