Friendly PA!

From the second we crossed a beautiful bridge into Pennsylvania from New Jersey yesterday, I knew I loved PA.  We rode across right into the FANTASTIC town of New Hope.  It was so quaint and perfect with ice cream shops and fun little places to nose around.  At least they seemed fun but we only had time for a bathroom break.  But within the 8 minutes we were stopped there, about 7 different people walked up to us and asked what we were all about.  Everyone was so interested and caring with words of support and advice.  The residential roads were gorgeous with huge forests filled with little stone cottages as well as huge fun houses tucked away in the trees.

Overall yesterday was pretty good! We all survived, just had some injuries and complications.  Kicking off the chain of unfortunate events was Jeff’s tire getting caught along the side of the road flying down a hill sending him skidding on the road and his carbon fiber bike to be cracked.  Then we had some knee injury issues, a few more falls, a flat, demons escaping from bike tubes (haha), and a few wrong turns.  Oh somewhere in there was my wipe out in a confusing intersection.  By this point my group was getting a little bummed by our bad luck, but then a super nice lady came running out of her minivan, first aid kit in hand, saying “I was on my way to pick up the kids from soccer practice and I saw you fell!”  She was incredible and helped me fix up my scrapes.  Out of a bad situation we got to see the good in the friendly people of PA.  The end of the ride was 15 miles on a great bike path free of traffic so that was great!

We stayed at a beautiful church last night and the Illini Alumni Association brought us pizzas and soft pretzels.  That pizza tasted amazing after the 85 mile ride!

Today in PA was even more beautiful than the last.  We were out in the rolling hills and farms with some great views.  Along with the “pretty rolling hills” came riding UP the “pretty rolling hills.”  Today got more than a little rough for some of us.  I remember one specific moment where I was in the middle of working my way up (what seemed to me at the time) as the biggest hill I had ever seen, crawling at 4.3 mph, with the blazing 92 degree heat beating down on me.  At this moment in time I couldn’t help thinking to myself… “Why in the world am I doing this voluntarily?”   Its times like that when we really have to remember who we are riding for and why we are struggling and pushing our selves our hardest to make it across the country.  We eventually made it up all the hills (and some we didn’t need to go up at all…) and were quite proud of ourselves!

We had a PREFECT lunch stop at a huge farm house with a barn, big shady tree, and a gazebo.  The family there made FRESH HOME MADE STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM WITH STRAWERRYS FROM THEIR GARDEN and were nice enough to offer it to us!  It. Was. Delicious. To say the least!  They invited us in to pet their horses  — and their dog (who didn’t take to some of us so well). They were fantastic and so kind to let us use their yard for a good portion of the day.  Just more great people we got to meet in Pennsylvania!

The church we are staying at tonight is very nice.  They have showers for us all, its air conditioned, we had a yummy full meal of real food, and there plenty of rooms for us all to spread out and get some sleep.  Which I really should be doing!!! Tomorrow should be a slightly lighter day, only 65 miles.  However I hear there are much more and much bigger hills to come as we make our way into Gettysburg.  Hopefully The Lady Pack can make a few less direction mistakes and wrong turns tomorrow so we can get it before 8!

Well I need to go zonk out now, but I do want to say one thing.  I am SO lucky to be on this trip doing this amazing thing with all these amazing things.  With the 12 hour riding days my group has had, the flats, the falls, the tough hills, and the craziness of it all it’s easy to get discouraged.  But everyone in I4k is so supportive and positive.  Even though we have rough moments, were all there for each other for a good laugh or pick-me-up to keep us going.  We have done so much laughing in the last few days I can’t even tell you!! Everyone is so much fun and I can’t wait to spend the rest of the summer with them!

Sorry this post was so long, I have to find a happy medium for length here.  I’ll work on it!!

Love you all and thank you so much for reading these! It really means a lot to me!

Comments (10)
  • Mom says:

    It’s really nice to hear the stories about how nice everyone you meet is :) Also, fun to know that you encounter nice little “surprises” along the way like the fresh strawberry ice cream!Must make for a nice break from your routine. Love you, and I know everyone is very grateful to you and all of i4K for your hard work and dedication to a very important cause. <3 Mom

  • Kelsey says:

    wow wow wow – i am SO jealous of this trip right now. i would LOVEEE to be riding through all of these beautiful hills, quaint towns, forests, etc, etc, etc. AH. so happy that you’re keeping up a positive spirit through the spills. wish i was riding along side you. xo

  • Mary Chlopek says:

    Hi there Jillian,

    May I say how really realy NICE it is to hear such a vibrant and detailed description of your travels–I can almost taste the strawberry ice cream. What a great time you will have and you’ve only just started! This is actually my favorite kind of grueling adventure, that is to say, one lived vicariously through someone else’s sweat and exertion. Speaking from the persepctive of one who has lived my life in the fog of the directionally challenged, I feel your pain. The first step is to find someone to blame, punish them, and move on. On the bright side, you’ve seen things the “strict route followers” will never know. You go Lady Pack.

    Okay then, here’s my best attempt at guilt provocation:
    So Jordan Whicker, is no one letting you get any time at ALL on the computer? Have you broken your fingers in some horrible biking/gravel/flat tire disaster? Are you still alive? Give me a sign boy…or, maybe Jillian you could let Jordan know that I am thinking of him and of course of you all and sending all my best wishes your way on your grand adventure. By the time you get out here to Portland I’m sure I’ll feel like I know you. Be very careful please and if you can, keep in mind my big 3 rules of biking:
    1. Brake liberally on the downhill.
    2. Wind resistance is your friend.
    3. Never bike at a speed any faster than you’d feel comfortable falling…if it takes you until September or October to get here, so be it. Jordan’s Aunt Mary

  • Ty's Mom says:

    Love to learn about the kindness of the people in PA. Paul is having to start radiation again next week the tumor is growing again. We appreciate you fighting for all of us affected by cancer. Stay safe.

  • P-Ty says:

    I just found out about this blog. I will be following it religiously for the rest of the summer! It means so much to me, especially since the last few days have been so hard her. Keep up the awesomeness, I couldn’t be more proud of my best friend! I love you and I know you’ll continue to kick butt!

    I hope your scrapes aren’t too bad!

  • Deb Ahlgrim says:

    Ice cream and showers! Sounds easy. Oh wait, Justin and I just drove back from Florida and we were talking about how ridiculously difficult it would be to bike ride all that way and you are doing it for way longer and way farther. Woah! :) Go kick cancer in the butt, Jill! (But remember, you don’t support cancer, you support cancer research) haha.

  • Jenn says:

    ughhh this sounds so perfect…i mean PA is gorgeous but its hard to enjoy it when your speeding down the highway. riding my bike through cary i see lots of houses. and thats it. you get beauty!

  • Kelo says:

    I’m so proud of you! And I’m so jealous about the ice cream!! You know how I feel about ice cream….

    You’re doing a fantastic job, keep your spirit up and have a great time! Miss you!

  • Debbie Podgorski says:

    Jill we are so proud of you! What an amazing journey you are on and for such a great cause. I’m glad you are enjoying the beautiful country. Stay focus, have fun and come home safely. See you soon (on the 12th) Much love coming your way!!!!!

  • Kelo's mom says:

    Jill, thank you for sending the website info. It was great reading about your experiences in PA. What an amazing thing you are doing for such an important cause! We couldn’t be prouder to know you!

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