Local bike rider has strong passion for Roan Mountain community

Published 8:17 am Tuesday, October 15, 2019

While strenuous physical activity might be a hazardous endeavor for some 90-year-olds, Dillard Street has been going on yearly bicycle rides for many years since resuming the activity. He said it is no different riding now than it was when he was younger.

When he was younger, he said he would ride 30 to 40 miles on the regular to visit family.

“One time I knocked the handlebars loose,” Street said.

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He said they used horseshoe nails to hold them together.

His daughter, Teresa Stout, said it gave her joy to see him pick up the activity again many years ago.

“It makes us all happy,” Stout said. “I said ‘Isn’t it better to ride a bicycle than a wheelchair?’”

His annual rides take Street through the Roan Mountain Park and post office, roughly a 17-mile trip filled with things to do and people to greet.

“I always take something to feed the fish,” he said. ”It is good exercise and fresh air. It makes me feel good.”

This time around, however, the ride was special. It was also a celebration of Street’s 90th birthday.

“We had four generations there this time,” he said. “My great-granddaughter is four years old.”

Not just family members join him on his rides, however. Stout said college professors, nurses and just about anyone willing often tags along to see the sights with Street.

Stout said roughly 130 people gathered at the park to celebrate, all members of the Roan Mountain community who had learned to enjoy his presence over the years.

“If [the community] had a death, he always goes house to house taking up money for the family,” she said.

Street’s passion for the community also manifests in his love of the region as a whole. He said he loves talking about the history of the area, from churches that burned down to the gravesite of Abraham Lincoln’s great-uncle in Carter County.

“You get to show them something they did not know,” Street said.

This love of history, Stout said, is important because so much of it does not make it to the classrooms.

“Nobody teaches local history,” she said.

Stout said his interactions with the community are both big and small, and people remember him for all of it.

“He is very outgoing and friendly,” she said. “He has a personality that cares for people.”

Though the bike he has now is newer than what he had as a child, Street keeps it in good condition, ready for the next year’s ride, all the while teaching people more about the community they live in, both about the history as well as the people currently living there.