Illinois in the Big Apple

With only around 32 hours of time in New York City, it definitely felt like the Illini 4000 was able to fill 33 of them. It all started Thursday night when the Illini 4000 team was invited to an event sponsored by the New York Alumni Club

Kelly Belford, a Uof I alumnus, was gracious enough to host us in her beautiful 14th floor apartment looking out on the Empire State Building for an evening of hors d’oeuvres, comradery, and relaxation. Just what the doctor ordered to alleviate the stress of and anxiety of our last day before the ride begins. As always, the life source of our organization lies within support from friends, family, and the community, and this kind of generosity from the our alumni and university community was both fun and greatly appreciated. Thanks Kelly. GO ORANGE AND BLUE!

As the team returned to the Chabad house, though, it was back to business.  Having packaged our bicycles for the long train trip, there were still many adjustments to be made before they would be serviceable for the ride.  This led to a late night bike bonanza in the back yard of the Chabad House, where we adjusted brakes, tightened handle bars, and of course, shaved John Kolinski’s head!

The next morning, Rabbi Blum and his two daughters sent us off with his Blessing, and the epic 4000 mile journey that is the Illini 4000 had begun!  After a quick breakfast in Central Park, the team braved the Manhattan Streets heading North West to the George Washington Bridge.  Though a little shaky at first, we were soon to find our feet.  Amongst all the starting and stopping, the traffic, and closed entry ramps, it was all worth it to traverse the George Washington Bridge and gaze across the Hudson at one of the World’s most famous of cities.

The next 60-70 miles would prove to test every aspect of our fledgling team’s training and ability.  The city put up a fight, throwing in some unlabeled streets and closured due to construction, but in the end determination prevailed.  With the last group rolling in around 7:00pm, the team arrived at the Thakkar residence, where snacks, beverages, and soft grass galore were waiting to cradle and nourish our tired bodies.  The Thakkars are the parents of Anish Thakkar, co-founder and director emeritus of the Illini 4000 last year, who also came out to drive our support vehicle for this inaugural ride.  We can’t thank them enough for all they have done for us this year, and for the organization as a whole!

And so, tomorrow we begin again, this time to Philladelphia.  Can’t wait to see what it has in store!

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