Rochester to Albert Lea

First blog post in awhile! Things get so hectic, and there are times where I say “ok, ok, I’m going to blog!” But then I end up falling asleep!

Today we rode from Rochester, MN to Albert Lea, MN. The past two days have been extremely informing and inspiring. On Thursday the team was crunched for time because we had to be at the Hope Lodge by 5pm! We woke up early, shortened our breaks and rode fast.

Visiting the Hope Lodge was life changing. The Hope Lodge is a center run by the American Cancer Society. Cancer patients are able to have their own room for as long as necessary while they are receiving treatment. It is completely free and really helps families with financial troubles. We had the opportunity to tour the facility and talk to some of Hope Lodge’s residents. Everyone was so friendly and asked many questions about our bike trip. It was hard to divert the conversation to learn more about them because they were just so fascinated with Illini 4000! I was able to have some great conversations and did a portrait of a couple – Jim and Joyce.

Jim and Joyce have been married for more than 30 years (they celebrated their anniversary the day before we visited). Joyce is currently battling leukemia and Jim has Parkinson’s disease. The adoration and love they have for each other is extremely inspiring. They take care of each other and have so much optimism. They are truly beautiful people. I wish the best for Jim and Joyce, and hope they take that long awaited Alaska trip they’ve been dreaming of. :)

The day was going so well and it got better when I4K received a free Chipotle dinner! This is the 3rd dinner Chipotle has donated to I4K and we are extremely thankful! Thank you so much, Chipotle.

Yesterday was an event day, which means—no riding! Our first day off since Chicago! What a treat. The day started out with a great breakfast provided by our new ride leaders Ron and Katie.

Illini 4000 then took a tour of the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic is a very prestigious hospital and well known for their innovated methods of health care. It was so fascinating to meet the minds behind Mayo and tour the facility. It is such an amazing hospital. I am so glad they took the time to give us a tour; they even provided lunch!


Today was a 70 mile day. It was relatively easy. We rode from Rochester to Albert Lea. I was in a group with Maggie, Dory, Marc, and Conner Y. I had a lot of fun. We decided to take it easy and just chill. We went at a nice pace, took a nap, played in a park, and then played in another park. It was so great! Once we arrived at the stayover, we heard the news that I4K was being provided Mexican food! Taco King! We made our way to a graduation party where Taco King was catering. They welcomed us and allowed us to eat as much as we wanted. It was so great. The owner then made a generous donation of $200. Thank you so much Taco King. Albert Lea has to be one of my favorite places so far. We were greeted by a beautiful lake. Some of the riders went in the lake and had fun. I decided to stay on the sidelines and read. I explored a bit later and was lucky enough to catch the sunset over the lake; it was gorgeous.

So far I am enjoying my experience with I4K so much. It is challenging, educational, and forever inspiring. Meeting the people of Hope Lodge and Mayo Clinic strengthened my passion for this ride. I ride for these people everyday. I ride for Jim and Joyce, I ride for my own family members battling cancer, I ride for the brilliant minds of Mayo Clinic, and I ride for our supporters, like Taco King.

Comments (4)
  • Gayle Winters says:

    Rachel, I enjoyed your blog. Especially, the last paragraph. It was very touching all the reasons you ride. It is also amazing how the Taco King owner invited all of you into his home and fed everyone. What a wonderful person. Thank you Mr. Taco King!! Take care.

  • Mindy says:

    Keep on keeping on, girl. Love you!!

  • Nancy Replogle says:

    Mayo Clinic, Hope Lodge, Portrait of Jim & Joyce, Chipolte and Taco King. It doesn’t get much better than that!! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. Enjoy your ride!

  • Silvia says:

    Rach! I love reading about your trip, I can imagine as though you were telling me in person! I can’t wait to see you again and have a hearty dinner and chat. Keep on riding, and inspiring. I love how much you seem to be gaining from this experience. Go girl!

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