- Associated Press - Sunday, June 4, 2017

ROCK FALLS, Ill. (AP) - Most people don’t get anywhere spinning their wheels.

Tony Fiorini isn’t most people. When he spins his wheels, he goes places - like several hundred miles across Cuba.

The veteran bicyclist departed with a dozen others from the island nation’s eastern tip of Baracoa and traveled the tail wind about 700 or 800 miles to Havana. The trip spanned from March 15 to April 2.

The 64-year-old Rock Falls resident is accustomed to trekking long stretches; he turned to marathon biking after about 25 years of racing.

“Biking has always been part of my raison d’etre; it’s just part of my nature,” he said.

Fiorini is a testing center assessment specialist at Sauk Valley Community College, where he has worked for about 16 years.

The mountain ranges of Sierra del Purial and the oceanside metropolises provided a stark change in scenery from riding throughout the Sauk Valley or Wisconsin - and he had never needed to worry about cleaning crab guts off of his bike before.

“All you see is this moving sea of crabs across the highway; it was wild,” he said of the ride through the Bay of Pigs, which happened to coincide with the crabs’ migration to lay their eggs at the bay.

Fiorini has biked a variety of venues over the years, but there’s a certain feeling that has remained the same.

“You get to this bizarre level when you go fast and you almost get this weird feeling of being in flight,” he said.

The group would ride throughout the day and end each leg of their journey at a city or town where local officials and others would act as cultural liaisons of sorts, telling them of the area’s historical ties. They would stay with host families at “casas particulares” (private accommodations) some nights and others at hotels and resorts.

They had two Cuban guides riding along as well as a bus driver at the back, but the journey didn’t really follow a predetermined line on a map.

“We were making the route up as we went along,” he said. “It was part of the adventure not knowing where you were going half the time.”

Fiorini has been married to his wife, Beth, administrator of the Whiteside County Health Department, for 41 years. They have two sons and five grandchildren.

He bikes most days depending on the weather, and he doesn’t see the pedals stopping anytime soon.

“My age doesn’t seem to be slowing me down a lot,” he said. “I plan to ride until I can’t ride anymore.”

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Source: Sauk Valley Media, https://bit.ly/2qpohVW

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Information from: Dixon Telegraph, https://www.saukvalley.com

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