100 Miles. Uphill. Into the wind.

Throughout this summer we have had a few days that have been especially tough. The long days when the wind is gusting at 30 mph, it is an average of 93 degrees, and the hills never seem to end. We usually describe these as stated above.

There is no denying these days are hard. There are times when you are pushing as hard as you can go and you are still climbing at a pace of 6 mph. When times like this hit, we rely on each other as a team. The tough days would be so much tougher without the support of our teammates. We usually end up throwing together remixes of ‘Call Me Maybe’ pertaining to each state we are in, or having in depth conversations about our hometown differences, and sometimes we end up yelling ’My Cows!’ at each farm we go by. It never really matters what we are doing, we are ultimately together as a team helping each other through the tough days.

Many of my teammates have been on teams before, and I believe that helped us to start functioning as a unit starting with the train ride to NYC. And whenever we have those few quite miles I often think about our team dynamic. Every person on our team has something very unique they contribute, but we are all here for the same reasons.

Usually when I sit back and think about my i4k team and my experiences I have had throughout the summer, I go back to my high school basketball team and think about how grateful I am to my coaches and team. My basketball team was very successful all throughout my high school career, and although I was not the star player by any means, that did not deter me from enjoying every minute of it. I had the same coaches and played with the same girls from 5th grade until I graduated. They became my second family. I4k reminds me a lot of that, except in fast forward, but being together every minute of every day pushes you pretty close pretty fast. I4k has undoubtedly become my third family.

I love having my I4k family, and I ultimately have my basketball family to thank for that. My coaches, Dave and Missy, taught me everything I know about hard work and determination. These are the people that molded me into the person that applies to ride her bike across the country to fight for cancer research. They are the ones that put us on the line and made us run those sprints over and over again, but only to strengthen us for when it mattered. They showed us that we can still have a blast while working hard. They are also the ones who cared for us like a family, who reminded us to be home at a reasonable time because we had practice early the next morning, who made sure we got home when the weather was bad, who was not afraid to talk to us when they thought we could be making better choice, and who lead by example.

Every day I am riding to raise money for cancer research and patient support services, to document the American cancer experience, and to spread hope across the nation. Everyone is affected in some way and I have the ability to contribute to lowering that number. That is why I ride.

Dave, Missy, and my team taught me to push myself. They showed me the rewards in putting your heart into what you care about and giving it your all. They proved to me that a determined group of kids can accomplish something big when everyone is looking out for everyone else and functioning as a team. This is why I have the mental capability to ride.

We are just over a third of the way into the journey, every day has been incredible, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store for us as we head west. I am so thankful to all my families. I could not be doing this without the support of my parents, the lessons learned from my coaches, or the support from the team.

You are the people that have made me who I am.
Thank you.

-Ashley Young

Comments (1)
  • Larry Orndorff says:


    I envy you so much. I know, that at my age, there is no way I could keep up with you guys, but I would have loved to have tried.

    Hang in there, and enjoy the time that most people can never experience.

    Larry and Nancy

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