We’ve made it to Illinois!

The past few days have all been long and mostly against the strong midwestern wind, but it was all worth it to arrive to Urbana yesterday and see familiar faces and places for the first time in weeks!  It feels like months since I’ve been there, not only 3 and a half weeks.

Our 110 mile day following our rest day in Ohio was full of challenges besides only the physical challenge of biking so far, about 30 miles more than I’d ever done in a day.  The morning was wonderful, we flew with the wind through small roads with few cars.  Soon we came across a river for which the bridge crossing it had been taken down.  We all managed to cross the river by walking across a log with our bikes.  A couple riders slipped in the ditch on either side of the river, but luckily no one managed to fall in the river. 

The easy morning took a turn when the weather slowly became more and more windy and rainy as we were biking straight into a storm which was moving straight in our direction.  At one point, we were on US 40, a highway we often find ourselves on for long stretches of the day, and we were crossing Dayton, OH which was a busy part of the road, 4 lanes of traffic without a shoulder.  At that point, the rain and wind were at the worst.  It was extremely hard to bike in a straight line with gusty wind, trucks spraying us as they whizzed by, and rain.  This was where I had my second flat of the day, the fifth for the group.  Luckily as I walked towards my group preparing to fix my flat, I was met by Dana and Connie with huge smiles on their faces, laughing hysterically.  As we fixed the flat and afterwards, all of us couldn’t do anything but laugh hysterically at our situation.  We were freezing, could hardly stand up straight from wind on the shoulder of a busy road, had 40 more miles to bike into the storm.  I realized that humor and having a positive attitude when faced with a tough challenge is a great way to get through it.  We were able to fix the flat, grab our rain jackets from the van and continue on our way.  Luckily the wind and rain ended up letting up a little and we finished our century plus 10 in relatively high spirits.

The next 3 days were not quite as long but almost entirely against the wind.  I have really enjoyed biking on flat land, especially the smaller roads with very few cars.  It can be very relaxing, especially when I think back to the days which feel so long ago, when I faced hills, mountains and traffic and was scared for much of the time.  We all are now able to reach our destination for each day a little earlier than before when biking through hills, which is nice because I have time for a nap. :)

As I said, reaching Urbana yesterday was fantastic.  It was great to cross into Illinois, and later to bike through Homer on our way to Urbana, a route which happened to be our first training ride in March.  I loved everything about my short visit to Urbana and only wish I could have stayed longer.  Today we began biking north to Chicago, which is great for a couple reasons.  One, because I’m excited to reach Chicago in 2 days and see family and friends.  Two, because we are finally biking with the wind instead of against it!  We also just received our jerseys today after there was a mix up with chemical spills a while back, so now we look like a real team. 

Reminder, I will be arriving to Chicago on Friday around noon at Millenium Park and would love to see anyone and everyone there!

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