Back in the Midwest

As many of you know, I am not a student at Illinois. I was fortunate enough to find out about this awesome organization via social media, and even more fortunate to become a part of the organization as a rider this summer.

While training, a few times, I had the pleasure of riding with SMC Philosophy professor, Kevin McDonald, my good friend and fellow cyclist, Gina Althoff, and my coach at Innovative Endurance, Lisa Mueller. I spent a good amount of time training, however, on my own. Many miles were ridden along the Saint Joe River and up into Niles, Michigan. Both working for a growing commercial real estate company and exploring routes in the area helped me to gain a new appreciation for the city in which I called home for the past 4 years.

Before riding out of New York City though, I had no experience riding in a group. The first few days leading up to riding, I was so worried to ride in a group. I worried I would cause some kind of a crash or put myself or the other riders, whom I barely knew, in some kind of danger. I laugh at those notions now after spending these past 17 days on the road riding with them.

I’ve been a part of teams many times before. I’ve played basketball, though my roommate would likely beg to differ. I know how a team works.

One would likely make the premature assumption that cycling is an individual sport, and in many cases, it is. One bike, one rider – the notion indeed makes sense. Everyday as we ride, however, we ride as a team. We rely heavily on each other. There is an inevitable and undeniable trust in our teammates. We often ride single file and have a somewhat obstructed view of the road ahead. Because of this, we compensate with communication, calling out grates, gravel, or cars in the road. Without these call outs, we would never successfully reach our destination.

We also often get bored out there on the road. Time seems to linger and scenery sometimes blends, especially through the flat plains of the Midwest. It helps to have company and camaraderie along the road to pass the time.

As we rolled through Maryland, the Appalachian Mountains and parts of Pennsylvania, the hills were mid-blowing, uphill climbs I never could have fathomed coming from Illinois. If it were not for my teammates riding alongside me, slowing their own pedal strokes to compliment my own, pushing me to the top, counting down the minutes left of climbing, drawing my mind away from the fact that were riding at 4 miles an hour, I would never have made it up the hills. If it were not for the 21 other members of my team, I would not be able to travel by bike across this country. This is the most teamwork I have ever experienced, and it is an honor to be a part of this team.

On a side note, it is so great to be in the Midwest. Thank you to Madeline Miles, Mackenzie Neu, and the Craney family who went out of their way to visit and give me the push I need to make it to the 1000 mile point!

Comments (1)
  • Mary Althoff says:

    We are back in Sioux Falls from our son’s wedding in Kansas City. We are looking forward to seeing you here Tuesday, 6/25! What an experience you are making!

    Mary Althoff

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