3 months and counting

Today is February 25th, and that means there are exactly 3 months until I begin my “Summer of a Lifetime” Part 2.  Part 2, because this is the second year that I’ve participated in the Illini 4000.  Last year I rode out from New York City with 22 people who were nearly strangers, and arrived in Portland Oregon with 21 close friends (a rider had to drop in Chicago due to a family emergency). Having already worked with this year’s team much closer than last year’s before we rode out, I know I look foward to the friendships that will inevitably develop this summer as we make our way across the country to San Fransisco. Furthermore, I think that if there were one word to describe this year’s team, it would be “amazing.” I say this because I feel there’s a greater commitment to our cause, stronger friendships developing, and significantly more fundraising. I think some of this is due to the steps that the board took this semester to get riders started and interacting, but a lot of it comes from their own personal drive.

So where do things stand in relation to last year? The first, and foremost in my mind is that I’ll be riding a different bike this year. My bike last year was a little large, and so I’ve been investigating different options and finally settled on the Soma Saga, a touring bike. Not only is it built for the long distances, but it’s amazingly beautiful, and amazingly out of stock for at least another month. Hopefully it’ll be in mid-March, like I originally heard, and not mid-April like I was hearing more recently. Either way, I purchased the bike that will be providing most of the components to build up the Saga last week and it arrived earlier this week. I picked it up today and was surprised to see how much it was already assembled. With a litle bit of free time, I figured out how to take most of it apart, using nothing more than my multi-tool. Whether or not it actually is, this bike feels more dissectable than the road bike I rode last year. I almost feel confident enough to rebuild it when my frame finally arrives.

From the fundraising perspective, I’m ahead of where I was last year, but that’s not saying much. I still need to put some serious effort into that aspect of this experience, so if you haven’t heard from me yet, expect to hear from me soon. I’m confident I can make the goal, I just need to start reaching out.

Physically I feel that I’m almost ready to go. Over the month of February I completed an Ironman Triathlon. It wasn’t all that difficult, though some of that was because they allowed us to use elliptical trainers for the running portion. Suffice it to say I did do some running, and actually ran my first (and second) 5k ever. It was by no means fast, (33 minutes 24 seconds ~11 minute/mile pace), but I have something to be proud of. Actually, this month was also the first time I had ever swum for more than a mile (and did this twice as well). I don’t particularly care for either of these sports, but if I were to do this again, I would suck it up and work through it. This year I’m also going to be smarter about my training. Last year I started off too hard to fast and ended up hurting myself in late March and the injury continued well into May. I’ll build up my mileage gradually like one should and try to get some experience with elevation climbing in. I know that will be difficult living in one of the flattest parts of the country, but we have parking garages to practice in, and perhaps in May, between the end of the semester and our departure for New York, I’ll try to get out to southwestern Wisconsin and tackle some of the hills out there.

Hopefully that covers most of what’s going on right now, and I’ll be a bit more frequent on the updates than last year.

Peace out,

~Erik

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