Week #1

This first week has been an incredible experience. I almost can’t believe that we’re actually doing this. As we prepared Sunday May 22nd for our first ride I began to feel butterflies. I felt a bit nervous for what was to come the following day. I got to spend that day and night with my brother and sister-in-law, Orlando and Mariel, which sort of settled my emotions. We woke up for our ride Monday morning and everybody was very excited. We prepared everything we needed and got on our bikes and took off. We passed through Newark, NJ to arrive at the Thakkar home in Hillsborough, NJ. There we had an amazing dinner and shared our stories with Mr. and Mrs. Thakkar, who are the parents of co-founder Anish Thakkar. They graciously opened there home to 28 dirty and smelly cyclists and were extremely proud to do so for the Illini 4000.

The following morning we departed for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We started the day with a tough accident but everybody was ok. We continued with out one rider due to damage to his bike, and continued on. Entering Pennsylvania was amazing. The state is so beautiful with amazing scenes and people. The ride into the city of Philadelphia was along the Schuylkill River and provided one of the best views of the city. We got to take a picture with the statue of Rocky! We arrived to our stayover in the west side of Philly and we all agreed we needed to get Philly Cheese stakes.

Leaving Philadelphia we encountered a few rolling hills and beautiful scenery of Amish country as we headed for Lancaster, PA. The highlight of the day was when we stopped to eat strawberries on the side of the road that we bought from two little girls that were selling them in the heat of the day. Our stayover in Lancaster was nice. We got to shower and wash our clothes down the street after going a few days without.

The next few days going through Chambersburg, Everett, and Mt. Pleasant (the climb wasn’t so pleasant) is where we encountered the Appalachian Mountains. Each day was tougher than the last, but all the more rewarding. We climbed and climbed up the mountains and were rewarded with awesome downhill rides. I reached over 45 mph!! It was a little bit scary at first but an amazing feeling. On our way to Chambersburg we encountered a tornado warning that forced us to take shelter for a few hours. During that time Anthony, Josh, Cristian and myself got to share family stories and experiences and came closer together. The following day to Everett we also encountered a tornado warning that again forced us off the road. I got to witness the most intense hailstorm I’ve ever seen. All of us were sort of scared but excited to see the storm. As a result of the storm we were not able to ride our bikes into Everett, but we were extremely lucky to find two amazing people that gave 9 of us a ride into town. By far the toughest day was our ride to Mt. Pleasant; an 80+ mile day through a few mountains in the hot sun. At every stayover we arrived to we were greeted with open arms by wonderful people. I cannot thank them enough for their generosity and selflessness in supporting a whole team of bikers. We have had nothing but great feelings and encounters thus far.

We arrived in Pittsburg, after climbing a few more hills, and we had a rest day! Our rest day today on Memorial Day consisted of an awesome picnic in the park. We got to relax and eat amazing food. I also got to walk around the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburg and saw Pitt campus as well as CMU. I like this part of Pittsburg, and wish I could have seen more, but I keep asking myself, how is it that people want to live among huge mountains, where every turn is hill lol.

We rode 493.9 miles in our first 7 days and will be in Ohio tomorrow night.! We will be arriving in Chicago in 10 days!!! I really can’t believe it. I am really proud of our team and feel that if we can make it through the Appalachian Mountains we can make it through anything.

Wish us luck as we continue on our way to conquer the US!!


Comments (3)
  • Eileen Rock says:

    Good luck! Thanks for the informative post. You succinctly summed up one full week of riding adventure, and everyone has such a possitive attitude. You all should be proud of yourselves. See you in Illinois.
    Linsey’s Mom

  • jschlesinger Jonathan Schlesinger says:

    Thanks for the update! I truly believe that you conquer anything on this ride now that you have made it through PA. Ride safely!

  • Karen Lavazza says:

    We wish you the Best of Luck!!!
    And thank you for such a great article. Each blog comes at the trip a little different and it’s great to read them all and put the pieces together. As a mom, I was texting and talking to Dory when I saw what the weather was last week. This is one of the disadvantages of technology-more knowledge, more parental worry. The flip side-being able to talk to your child and hear they are OK.
    By the way, today, June 1 the weather is awesome in Illinois. And By the way, Illinois is FLAT!
    Dory’s mom

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