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The Illini 4000 is a non-profit organization dedicated to documenting the American cancer experience through The Portraits Project, raising funds for cancer research and patient support services, as well as spreading awareness for the fight against cancer through annual cross-country bike rides.

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Day 39: The Last Day of a Long Stretch 07.01.15

Start/End: Ft. Morgan/Denver, CO

Mileage: 99.7+

Weather: Another hot day…

 

Greetings from Denver! Over the past 11 days, our team has biked 916 miles from Rochester, MN to Denver, CO, climbing up to the city which is a mile above sea level! It has been a long haul, but at the end of the day, we are excited to have 2 days off in order to allow our muscles some well deserved time off. We want to thank the United Methodist Church in Ft. Morgan for hosting us this past night. We are very grateful for their generosity in allowing us to stay at their facilities. We also would like to thank the local Pizza Hut and Arby’s for generously donating some food for the team’s dinner last night. It was a great meal and we are so appreciative of their support of our organization.

As we do with many of our longer days this summer, we left our stayover an hour ahead of schedule in order to avoid some of the afternoon heat. We all got up pretty quickly and were ready to go, likely because of the excitement of reaching Denver. Today, our ride was dedicated to Jack, a friend of one of our riders who passed away when he was just 1 8 years old. At 11, he was diagnosed with a type of brain cancer and fought the cancer for 7 years winning that battle. Unfortunately, though, he passed due to some complications from treatment. So today, our ride is for Jack.

It was really nice starting our day early as it took several hours for it to heat up. The morning started off very calm and serene as we passed through more farmland that was, well, very similar to the land we have been passing for several days now: a lot of wheat and some corn being grown. Not too far out of Ft. Morgan, there were not many communities that we passed through. One of our cues warned us that we would not encounter a gas station for 40 miles. There were few houses and just beautiful rolling hills. Not far into the ride, we began to look further west. There was a point in my riding group that it dawned on us that the weird-looking clouds ahead of us to the west were in fact not clouds, but snow covered mountains. Those, were the Rocky Mountains. This was both exciting and a little bit nervous for us, knowing that we would soon be climbing some of these mountains along the ride. I have never been to the Rocky Mountains myself, so it was a very awe-inspiring moment.

I don’t think we had any great wildlife experiences today, although right before we got to our lunch stop, we did encounter a 3 foot snake on the road which had met its end. That was really gross, but now we know to look out for giant snakes (ew). As the day grew on, it got hotter but we had spaced our rest stops to ensure that no one ran out of water and that we were all properly hydrated. It is interesting, especially for MidWesterners, because the air here is very dry and you cannot necessarily tell that you are sweating since it evaporates so quickly. Once we were about 20 miles out from Denver, you could start to see the skyline and we used bike trails to work our way closer. We followed a lot of the South Platte River, which was pretty high. Because of recent rains, the path even had a detour due to high waters. Oh! I nearly forgot, but we did come across a very small prairie dog colony along the trail! They are so cute, but watch where you step because you certainly do not want to fall in one of their holes!

Once we got into Denver, our route took up right by the stadium where the Denver Broncos play and close to the city. It is a very nice looking city that I know the team is excited to explore over the next few days. We arrived at our awesome stayover which is hosting us for the next 3 nights and 2 days. We are so thankful for their generosity in opening up their facilities for us. For dinner, the church provided some awesome pizza, chicken, fruit and some great desserts. It was very appreciated, especially as some of us took some scenic routes, extending the mileage of our journey. It was a long day of riding and a long stretch of riding for the whole team which was handled very well. It will be nice to be off our bikes for a few days, though some of us may be riding them a little bit over the next few days (we certainly wouldn’t want to forget how to!). I will be providing an update likely on Thursday evening and let you know what we have been up to over these rest days, but for now, resting is what I am going to do with my teammates. Well, that and eating. :)

-LAH

Day 38: Another Warm Day, Getting Closer to the Mountains 06.29.15

Start/End: Wray/Ft. Morgan, Co Mileage: 87+ Weather: Very warm, more clouds than yesterday Today we woke up at the the WRAC in Wray, CO to some great pump-up music to start out our day. We Read more…

Day 37: Three States, One Day 06.29.15

Start/End: McCook, NE/Wray, CO Mileage: 94+ Weather: Hot. Today we woke up at the YMCA in McCook, NE ready for a really nice day. It was tough to leave the soft floor covered with mats Read more…

Day 36: Last Full Day in the Friendliest State 06.29.15

Start/End: Holdrege/McCook, NE Mileage: 73.7+ Weather: Warm, some nice clouds There is something about Nebraska and fireworks, and I am not sure what it is but it has been fun to go outside at night Read more…

Day 36: A Quick Update 06.27.15

I am going to apologize for the Lackluster blog posting for today, but I wanted to let everyone know that we safely made it to McCook, NE today! It was a very good day and Read more…

Day 35: Flat Tires and Then Some 06.26.15

Start/End: Grand Island/Holdrege, NE Mileage: 70.7+ Weather: Cloudy with sprinkles in the morning, warm and sunny in the afternoon Today we started our day at the Salvation Army Community Church which had generously allowed us Read more…