Shorewood, Illinois, 60404. Or: Signs, Smiles, and a Nation-Shaped Cake.

Oh me, oh my!
The past few days have been quite eventful. Arriving in Champaign-Urbana proved terrific, riding in through Urbana, seeing last year’s stomping grounds and ending at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center. Two I4K alums joined us for the ride from Homer Lake to Urbana (Dana and Connie). After meeting with a few of the UI-affiliates that help make our dream a reality, the team split up for the first time. I met up with a few friends, ate a few foods, and told a few stories. I’m thankful for the friends I have and stopping in Champaign helped me to remember how great they are (special thanks to Zak M. and Kevin K.) The next morning, we rode out to Clifton–a ride on which I encountered my first flat. C’est la vie.
Clifton was a terrific stayover.  Largely due to the combination of amazing food provided by Tracey’s parents and padded pews.  I fell asleep around 7:30p and slept until 5:30a. Too awesome. That morning I proved to the world that 4 years of mastering Tetris during high school math classes were actually practical when Diana and I began our first day as van-packers. Flawless victory.
The ride to Homewood was a blast. Random Assignment Ride Day: pt II was yet another success. Great friends. It became surreal riding on streets like Harlem. Homewood has become etched in my memory as one of my favorite stayovers, and please. Let me tell you why:
-Super successful team meeting (sorry ’07, ’08, and ’09, but this year’s team is hands down the best)
-So much great food for dinner
-So much great food for breakfast
-Reading “Horton Hears a Who” and “Goodnight, Moon” (with Max, Mary, & Tracey)
-11 minute song about zombies (with Lauren & Steve)
-Being super excited to ride to Chicago.

The Homewood-Chicago ride was too great for words (but I’ll try). The euphoria of city riding and the natural high of coming into the city powered the team through the most humid day of riding thus far in our epic.  As we neared the city, masses of people wearing red, black, and white for the Blackhawks parade enveloped our paths, but we didn’t mind.  As we cycled around the John G. Shedd Aquarium, the city timidly peeked herself from behind the museum campus, only to greet us with open arms and feelings of great accomplishment.  As we dismounted from our steeds, I heard outsiders speaking (“They’re riding from New York to San Francisco! Yeah! On their BIKES!”) as they read our jerseys. Signs, smiles, and a nation-shaped cake signaled the end of the ride. Millennium Park was hectic with patrons of the park, blues fest gatherers, and Blackhawk parade spectators, but this was our moment. Family and friends cheered and hoorayed as we walked down the path.  After a bout of pictures and laughs, we made our way over to the UIC dorms to get our key and coincidentally, meet the 4K for Cancer–another cross-country-cancer-fighting-cycling organization.  Not only are our jerseys very strikingly similar, but they all ride the same bike as me! The director of 4k (Jose) even has the same handlebar tape as me (which confused many people. Conor even stopped Jose when he tried taking his bike elsewhere, thinking Jose was stealing mine). It was great to meet people who have the exact same mindset as we do. There’s much to learn from them, and I’m excited to share stories when we meet up in San Francisco.

Alas. Now I’m at home, in my parents’ living room, typing on my computer. Quite bizarre to think I’ll be back on the road in 24 hours. It feels like the past two and a half weeks have been a dream. I’m ready for the rest of the trip, and after looking at the map my parents have in their kitchen to track my cross-country progress, am excited to say, without doubt, that I know I can do the rest of this trip, but surely not without the help from my teammates who I miss already.

San Francisco or bust!

Comments (5)
  • Colette Whicker says:

    gosh…i really enjoyed reading this…could really feel a lot in your writings and envy the opportunity that you young folk have taken…every time i read a note like this i get teary wishing my ma would have at least lasted long enough to go with you through this journey…thanks…colette whicker

  • kate says:

    hey brother – so good to catch up with you while you were at home. thanks for writing these blogs, its really nice to have a peak into the amazing experience you are having. can’t imagine how many more stories you’ll have by the time you get here!!! xoxo

  • Bonita Lantz says:

    Eamon, all the people in Chicago were there for you and then they just decided to stay for the Blackhawks victory parade! Keep on rollin’!

  • Chuck Wallace says:

    Eamon – It sounds like you are having a great time – what an experience. I’m really jealous, although I don’t think that I could sit on a bike for 4,000 miles. Keep pedaling and keep sending the blogs. It gives all of us a chance to experience this beautiful country with you. Go Illini 4000!

  • Sue Chelf says:

    Please pass along this thank you to all who spent time with my dad Rudy Butteri at Hope Lodge. It truly meant so much to him. You guys really are making a difference! Thank you

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