Dear Pennsylvania

That I remember, I have never been in the state of Pennsylvania before this trip, and it has proved to be quite the experience. The scenery is unlike anything I could even dream of being from Illinois where you either have Chicago or cornfields. Pennsylvania seems to me like your American state you would see in a postcard. Every view, from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and everything in between was breathtaking and brought a feeling of general peace, however I do not plan on coming back for quite some time. Blame that on the mountains.

Before coming on this trip I knew we were going to experience mountain riding, but I figured all the hard stuff would have to wait until we hit the Rockies on the second half. However, I was soon informed that the Appalachians, especially in Pennsylvania, were the ones you really had to worry about. The reason for this that I received is that since they are such old streets, no codes were put into place as to how steep you can build the roads. Apparently–and I hope this is accurate!–the majority of roads in the west are new enough to follow the new codes which means for a smoother and less steep ride even though they will be much longer.

The ride from Pittsburgh to Cadiz, OH was my longest one to date. Over 90 miles. It was definitely the hottest day so far and it was tough because of that.  The big problem with such a long and hot day is trying to finish during daylight. Since it was so hot our stops took longer even though we couldn’t afford to waste time due to the high mileage. One of the most memorable experiences was along a bike trail leaving Pittsburgh in which a retired couple asked us about our mission. We got to talking and I discovered that they lived in Sanibel Island, Florida for the winter. I told them that’s where my grandmother lives and they are neighbors! What a small world!

Today we rode from Cadiz to Zanesville for a 63 mile ride. 60 of those miles were on the same road, US Rt. 22. The upside to this was that you couldn’t get lost even if you tried but it led to some boredom at times. At about mile 17 the entire team got off at Piedmont Lake and all went swimming for a little bit. It’s random little things like this that I think are the most exciting. We rolled into our stayover at around 4 pm and showered up and ate a delicious meal provided by the church. Now I’m trying to look back on what I’ve learned over the past 10 days.

I have learned a lot about America and American people so far. We are such a diverse country but are all united as one when it comes down to it. Many people don’t think highly of our people and consider us arrogant and power hungry. But I have been taking mental notes of my experience as we cross the country and I have been thoroughly impressed with what I’ve seen. Everyone welcomes us with open arms and even though some motorists may get angry with us hogging part of the road, once they hear about the cause, they are dumbfounded. Apparently, doing good deeds is still smiled upon, but the fact remains that people are so shocked that we are taking it upon ourselves to do such a great thing. Most, in fact, don’t believe us at first as to what we are doing and how much money we have already raised. I guess charity just isn’t as commonplace as it used to be. I hope that, and can see already that our efforts have begun to spin the inspiration wheel to get people moving and realize that even just one person can make a noticeable difference.

I know this because I have already.

Comments (5)
  • Gayle Winters says:

    It is at times such a small world! I remember when Lauren went to the University of Illinois her freshmen year. A school of 40,000 people, and her very first party down there was at a frat house. After talking with this guy a while, turned out his grandparents live in our town and knew her grandparents! Crazy! Thanks for sharing. Prayers are with all of you.

  • Karen Lavazza says:

    Dear Sean,
    Your BLOG is so inspirational! It makes me feel that if I was in trouble, there surely would be someone there that would want to help. It also makes me feel that the Illini 4000 team is truly courageous! We are eagerly awaiting for the time we will have together in Illinois, Champaign and Chicago. It will be a wonderful homecoming at the beginning of your long and fantastic journey.
    Dory’s mom

  • Sean, good deeds are definitely still smiled upon although life tends to let some forget that at times. Thank you for your insight. The Illini 4000 members have made a difference!! Please keep the great spirit amongst all of you. Stay strong and happy cycling! Gabrielle’s mom

  • Al Scudder says:

    SHAAAN! it sounds like you’re having a blast. Make sure you lube up with lotion and get that nice white shirt we talked about. I’m proud of ya big guy.

  • nolan says:

    glad you made it through the appalachians, ive seen you in the rockies before. I’m sure you’ll be able to handle them. stay stong.
    -Nolan
    roll tide

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