Twisters and Blisters

So I’m glad to say that my fellow Illini 4000 riders and I are officially in the zone. Like clockwork, we all awake even before our scheduled wake up of six o’clock am (much to my tired self’s chagrin). But waking up has proved not to be a chore any longer as the excitement shared by all of my teammates becomes contagious. We eat breakfast and do an activity traditionally called the “Mosher” and everyone is amped and ready to ride.

The rides have become more difficult thanks to some little hills you may have heard of known to some–okay maybe all–as the Appalachian Mountains, but at the same time, they become easier as well. I have discovered different ways to take my mind off of the sometimes absurd amount of miles we ride through various methods. First off I don’t look at the time all day. The beauty of this summer is that until we get to San Fran, I am entirely dedicated to the cause and therefore don’t have to stress out about other things like I would at school or home. Another is to get to know my teammates. I already feel like these people have been friends with me for years rather than just a few short days. Though we knew each other before the trip, we are becoming closer and closer as each day rolls ever so quickly by. Finally, just keeping a positive attitude throughout the ride is essential to a good day. I keep telling myself that every hill has its peak and that every time I spin the wheels, I am helping someone who is in a much worse situation than I due to their affliction with the modern pandemic that is cancer. That is why we ride, and that is why I keep going.

The ride from Philadelphia to Lancaster went very smoothly. We were able to see the natural beauty of Pennsylvania with its rolling hills and meadows. We passed through Amish Country and it is always interesting to see how people even today can live such simple lives.

I wish I could tell you that the last two days’ rides were smooth sailing, but I would be doing you readers a disservice. A bit of everything happened and I now feel like we as a team are prepared for just about anything. The trek from Lancaster to Chambersburg started out pleasant but things got interesting along the ride. It was over 90 degrees for some parts of the day and the sun was bearing down hard. For relief, my group and I decided to jump in a creek to the side of the road. To our dismay a gentleman kicked us off saying that his neighbor owned the property. Confused because it was adjacent to a park and a flowing body of water, we were bummed but continued the ride in our now wet and cool outfits.

Then it gets interesting. While we had to climb some serious hills to get to our stayover and at about mile 65 of 80, one of my chain links broke. Having absolutely no idea how to fix it, we had to call the support van. While pulled over on the side of the road we heard a loud siren which we found out later signified a tornado warning. A tornado in the mountains of PENNSYLVANIA?!?! CRAZY!! Considering the severity of the situation, each group took cover in their own way–ours being a pizza place–and waited to be shuttled to the stayover, apparently a first in the long lore that is I4K. We got to the church and heard all about its history. It was built in 1811 and the steeple, which we were able to go all the way up, was used as a lookout in the Civil War!

From Chambersburg to Everet, PA was a shorter mileage day (only 60)((only 60, ha!)) due to the fact that we had to go up through the mountains. Even before the first rest stop, my group had some tire issues that caused us to wait on the side of the road for over an hour! We finally made it to a nearby state park and after taking a team picture, jumped right in the lake. I want to make a point to jump in as many bodies of water across the country as possible this summer. After mile 40, we started to head up the mountain. It was a rough ride but over the past couple of days, I have become a more skilled and stronger climber. Skill comes into play a lot when climbing and I think that it is about 70% technique and 30% strength that goes into being a good climber. With my thunder thighs the strength was never a serious concern but I have now gotten used to how to prepare for the hills and which gear to ride up them.

When we finally reached the peak, the feeling was surreal. I cannot say that I have ever successfully rode up a mountain up to this point in my life and I literally and figuratively felt on top of the world. And the best part about riding up a mountain, is you get to ride down. I didn’t even have a high enough gear to pedal because we were going so fast! But as we were making our way down it started to rain. And as we reached town it started to pour and lightning illuminated the sky. We stopped and waited for the last two groups and all of us went to a Hardee’s to wait out the storm. Unfortunately, it didn’t clear up and to our luck, another tornado warning was issued. So we again were shuttled in to our stayover. Spirits teetering, we were greeted by gracious hosts in Everet and were provided and unbelievable homemade lasagna dinner. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.

So now as it gets late I have just realized that I have basically written a paper and have come to the conclusion that I possess an inability to write a short blog so bear with me please. I hope to blog as much as possible because I want to share my unique experience with the whole wide world (or web).

Till another time everyone!

Comments (5)
  • Larry Madison says:

    Sean

    you are the first one of the kids to actually say something positive about inheriting “thunder thighs” I hope they continue to help you through this effort especially over the Rockies.

    Keep the spirits high, enjoy yourself and be safe.

    The whole family is keeping track of your trip. We are proud of you

    Love ya

    Dad

  • Gayle Winters says:

    Sean thanks for sharing. It is such a highlight of our day to read the blogs of inspirational people like yourself and your team. You guys are awesome!!! Strength and happy pedaling to all of you.
    Lauren’s mom

  • Mary Russell Mary Russell says:

    Hope your papers turn into short novels. I’ll see you all soon in Chicago!

  • Tyler says:

    i would say you are a pretty good writer. enjoyed this post. keep them rolls rolling bro, miss you

  • Tyler says:

    wheels rolling** ha

Leave a Reply