The End of a Journey

Sixty-eight days. We’ve been together nearly 24/7 for sixty-eight days. It seems like New York City was such a long time ago, but at the same time, it feels too short. Our journey can’t be over quite yet, but we awoke to a late wakeup on the final day, we knew it to be true. We were slower, perhaps it was because there was nothing that could be done about late bags, or maybe it was because we were all in thought. Today would likely be the last time we saw all of us together as a team. We had our last bowl of oatmeal, and circled up for the last ride dedication. We dedicated the ride to Jake Grecco, an eight-year-old victim of brain cancer, and Greg’s dad, Tom Colten, who also passed from brain cancer.

We formed our groups, and we were off on the seventeen mile trek to Baker’s Beach. We got a little lost, but the ride was short and uneventful. We talked and shared stories, and reminisced on past rides until we rolled up to the Golden Gate Bridge. We took pictures, both as a team and with friends. Then we crossed our final bridge. It was slow going, as we had to avoid the many pedestrians, but it was exciting to look up and see the bridge rise up to disappear above the morning fog. We followed the last few cues that wound down a hill until we saw the beach open up in front of us. Our welcoming party held up banners and played music as we rolled to a stop. We had made it. It had taken us two months, be we had ridden across the country. We were served lunch by the San Francisco Alumni Club and were welcomed by our family and friends. We took pictures, laughed, cried, and left to explore the city.

Later, we met back up at Lou’s Fish Shack at Fisherman’s Warf for dinner. It was strange to see everybody in “real people” clothes. Many of us had gone shopping or had been brought clothes from their friends and family. We were able to laugh and hang out for one last night before finally saying our goodbyes and slowly going our separate ways.

The 2013 Illini 4000 Bike America Team would like to thank everyone for their amazing support. Without the generosity of others, this feat could not be accomplished. We would like to thank friends, family, strangers, and everyone we met along the road for their support and encouragement. We have finished our trip with a new sense of confidence and with the addition of new friends. And now, the 2013 team can say that they are proud to join the rest of the Illini 4000 alumni.

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