June 19th, 2011

Today was a glorious day and in preparation for it, we awoke at 6:00 AM and left by 7:00. Initially we departed and the hills of Minnesota were obscured by fog. Farmland stretched into the distance and the fog masked any definite end. Trees stood tall and reflected in crystalline puddles, which lay like glass sheets across the rolling plains. The first 40 miles seemed like a dream for me, and most likely for other riders as they stood as tall as the boots of the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth.

We ate lunch at the town of Fairmont. Luckily there was a burger king near by, and we feasted on warm food in supplement to our traditional peanut butter and jelly. Riders slept for hours on the concrete surrounding the gas station. A small square of land behind the gas station split a residence and parking lot. A myriad of grasses and flowers painted a mural on the ground representing the diversity of plants in the Midwest. The sun began to rise, the fog lifted, and the day grew bright. On our way out of Fairmont my group noticed a man standing next to a bike on a stand. We almost blew past him but went in reverse to say hi. His name was Larry and he had been a bike mechanic for 40 years. He remembered our group from the year prior and immediately brought us Mug Root Beer and chips. He offered us his canoe and we readily took this out on a lake and paddled around for over an hour. Our journey culminated when the boat flipped and we were forced to push it to shore. Larry was a very kind man and he showed us his collection of old bikes and toys.

After 4 hours we continued as we still had 30 miles to go. It was 5:00 when we reached Sherburn, and we went through the heart of town to find a restroom. We stumbled upon a beautiful festival where horse drawn carriages circled a park, children competed in local events, and inflatable objects bordered the street. Here we met many kind people, one of which was named Doug. Doug’s wife Vicki was a 6 time survivor of ovarian cancer, and he was very pleased to meet us. A radio interview was arranged and I spoke about our journey, the ripple effect and how our organization instills hope in those we meet. Doug bought us all food, and we took a picture with him near the park.

As it was getting late, we raced back at 25 mph and arrived safe and sound at our stay over. I immediately saw a hose hanging from a tree and hosed myself down without hesitation. The water was frigid and I felt like a child as I jumped around shivering. After a while my body adapted and it felt nice. The night ended when I fell asleep on the pews mid conversation without unrolling my sleeping bag. Apparently I snored that night : /

Comments (4)
  • Gayle Winters says:

    Lee. what an awesome blog. The details you gave were so vivid. You are a great writer..you should blog more often! :) It still amazes me all the kindness the Illini 4000 has encountered. Keep up the good work and stay safe.

  • Martha Kern says:

    Dear Lee-How do you have time to bicycle so much, eat, sleep, and still write a fantastic blog? Keep em’coming-very interesting! Martha

  • Nancy Replogle says:

    Lee, Sounds like you had an excellent day! Minnesota sounds like a beautiful place full of natural wonders. I’ll bet the Burger King whopper never tasted so good before :-). It was so nice of Larry to let you use his canoe — and share some of his life story with you. What an adventure you are having! People are responding to the energy of your team and your message of hope. You are all such positive role models for your generation. You are making the world a better place, one mile at a time!

  • Joan Lindsay says:

    Lee, Thank you for a most enjoyable blog entry:) And for sharing your adventures on what must have been a perfect day.
    ~joan lindsay

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