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Best Things Of The Worst Summer: Pedaling Through COVID-19

Tim on his bike
Tim Schill
/
WGLT
Local teenager Tim Schill has four sibilings and also loves acting at Normal Community High School. The last show he was in was "Clue on Stage."

Let’s admit it: Summer 2020 has been awful. (Thanks, COVID-19.) But some in Bloomington-Normal have managed to find bright spots in an otherwise dark summer. These are WGLT’s Best Things Of The Worst Summer.

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Pedaling through a pandemic, a Bloomington teenager took bicycling to a new level and biked the entire Constitution Trail this summer to escape the weight of COVID-19.

Tim Schill, a junior at Normal Community High School, spent his summer traversing the 37-mile trail. Schill has been biking his whole life. It is something that brought his family together.

“We’d go get ice cream on our bikes, but this is the first summer where I have actually taken it seriously,” said Schill, who owns a blue Trek bike that he got from his neighbor, an avid biker as well.

“She actually needed a new bike because she used that one so much,” he said.

As Schill rode along Constitution Trail, he loved seeing all the beauty in different locations.

“Biking is a very fun way to get exercise. You get to see new places and get fit while doing it. What’s cool about the Constitution Trail is it takes you all around town and go places you wouldn’t necessarily just go to,” he said.

But like all good exercise, there’s slopes and dips that come with biking. Schill said the only difficulty was trying to figure out where he was going to go, with all the endless possibilities ahead of those two wheels.

“The trail offers a wide variety, north, south, east, west, but there is only so far you can go. But I never really felt like I just had to get on the bike today. It was always something I really enjoyed doing,” said Schill.

One place Schill thought he’d never end up was right next to the heaping pile of trashed car seats in south Bloomington.

“When I first saw that I laughed and laughed as I passed. I still go by there occasionally on my bike just to see how much the pile has grown or shrunk,” said Schill. 

Something he thought was cool was all the parks scattered around town.

“Before the public access water was shut down, I would try to stop at a different park along the trail,” said Schill. “One of those was the Hidden Creek Nature Sanctuary. I went there to walk and rest one time while biking, and the place was so calming and full of natural Illinois life.”

Stuck but going somewhere

The pandemic has made everyone feel sort of stuck. Not only in their homes, physically, but mentally people have been in constant chaos. Schill gives some advice and suggests the only way to feel “unstuck” is to pedal and go.

“With COVID-19, I have been lonely. Being able to only see my friends through a screen and not in person. I think biking gets my mind off everything that’s going on in the world. I can just pop in my headphones and listen to some good music and forget all my troubles.” 

Schill listens to a lot of “Weird Al" Yankovic, who is known for humorous songs that make light of pop culture.

Schill, his parents and four siblings have lived on the east side of Bloomington for nearly eight years. Sometimes, Schill’s littlest brother begs to go biking with him. 

“I’ve let him come sometimes, but usually biking is just a 'me' thing,” said Schill. 

Some advice that Schill offers to those thinking about grabbing hold of the handle bars for the first time is to do it at a pace you are comfortable with. 

“When I was first starting out, I was only going a couple miles. Eventually, I worked it up over time, just getting out there regularly I got up to 20 miles. Be consistent, just keep going.”

Schills recommends getting outside to stay socially distant. 

“At first when people told me to get outside I just rolled my eyes, but it really does help. Get outside and get some exercise, it is better than sitting in a chair all day.”

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Catrina Petersen is an intern at WGLT focused on reporting and online writing. She is also a student in Illinois State University's School of Communication.