The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Repeating History: Oregon To La Harpe In 18 Days Biking to the Heartland

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher-Owner

Tucked away in a safe place, Charles Kralovec had kept a news write-up and picture of himself standing in front of an English bicycle in the front yard of his parent's home after he had just completed biking 18-days from Oregon to La Harpe at the age of 22 and The Quill had written a short story of his adventure. He was a college student in Oregon at the time.

Since that time, Charlie's father retired from the dry- goods business, has since passed away, his siblings are grown and moved away, Jim received his teaching degree which he put to good use for over 30 years, he married, raised three exceptional daughters, and just recently, he and his wife retired from teaching.

Charlie has seen a lot of change, but he's never let go of his desire to make that 18 day trip on a bicycle, once again.

"I wanted to do it when I reached 60," Jim said, " and see if I could do it in the same 18 days ."

Charlie's enthusiasm carried over into his 21-year-old daughter who joined him in the journey and made her first ever appearance in La Harpe, her dad's hometown. Like her father, some 38 years ago, Anna was making the trip during a break from college near her home in Oregon.

It took preparation, Anna said, and she and her dad would go on longer rides, and one weekend rode over 100 miles to the ocean.

For an adventuresome trip like this, you pack a little differently and use lots of sunscreen lip balm, water, and sleeping bags, pads, tents, pots and pans.

Anna's two sisters could not come due to conflict but her mother drove in the final day to meet them and document the occasion and bring them back home to Oregon. Neither Sandy nor Anna had been to La Harpe before.

Charlie and Anna agreed that Wyoming was the hardest part of the trip bicycling when they faced head winds for a couple of days.

"They began each morning around 5ish and after about 3 hours of riding, they'd take their first "bread, peanut butter, and honey break". A nice thing about biking, you can consume a lot more calories in a day and never notice. It's important to keep the body hydrated and fueled with some healthy food.

Charlie was pleased that he kept pace at 60 with his same 18 day course that he took at age 22. In 1974, the trip cost $49 for food but this time it was around $500.

They stayed at campgrounds and RV parks and a couple times, along the road in their tent. They were able to shower around 12 of the 18 days, but he reminded, this is an adventure. You can see the countryside from a whole different view point. It's also a mental get away from whatever you had been doing.

Charlie said it's nice to think that everything you own, you can lift, it's a nice escape to be outside, and smell the flowers, the fresh air. Anna and my pet peeve is closed windows. "We love the fresh air."

They averaged 118 miles a day with 140 their longest in Wyoming. Both of Charlie's 18 day trips were 2127 miles.

This trip, Charlie had three blown tires to Anna's one. They missed the 100 degree heat and, of course, didn't see much rain. There was only two light rain storms.

Most of their biking was on two-lanes and there was some pretty bumpy roads due to the heat.

Charlie's wife arrived a couple hours ahead and took pictures of their arrival and of La Harpe.

The three enjoyed staying with their wonderful hosts Barb and Mark Finch of La Harpe.

Anna was pretty happy she could accomplish the same feat her father did at about the same age.

Anna is a mathematical major in college and is working toward her Masters. She really enjoyed the break, and her mother, Sandy, really enjoyed visiting friends as she drove to her husband's home town for the first time,

Anna and Charlie caught Dan Gillett at the La Harpe museum and spent two or three hours researching and reading about La Harpe. They even found the grand opening of their new Federated store, Charlie's father Robert, ran.

Anna noted that you could see La Harpe was quite "the town" at one time and it saddened them that so many stores had closed. She really enjoyed meeting the nice people of La Harpe.

Charlie and Sandy's two girls are Lauren-23 and Carrie-17. Charlie's siblings are Robert Kralovec (California) and three more living in Idaho, Julie Kralovec, Jayne Forewood, and John Kralovec.

Both Ann and Charlie retired from teaching in 2010. She is a Health Coach for Take Shape for Life and loves helping people get healthy! Charlie, will continue biking. It's a good way to stay a little healthier, and to enjoy life.

Charles Kralovec and daughter Anna, bicycled from Oregon to La Harpe in 18 days, stops by the La Harpe Historical Society's Museum and visit several hours with Dan Gillett-keeper of the history.