Day 15

We’re home! The ride was dedicated by Randy (see blog post Day 14) to a cancer survivor from Rockville First United Methodist Church who passed away last week. Her name is Susan. Leaving the church this morning was bittersweet. We had such a great time in Rockville, yet emotions were running high as we prepared to head home to Champaign! Mountains and hills behind us, all we had to worry about were possible impending thunderstorms. As it turns out, thunderstorms were not an issue, but rather a ferocious wind which proved to us we had truly entered the Midwest Plains. We headed west to escape Indiana, a state which truly gave us it’s worst before we found the beautiful pavement line transitioning from potholes to smooth Illinois welcome. From the entrance to Illinois, we rode north into the killer wind to Tory’s house. When we are pushing against the wind, there is no doubt that our task would be impossible alone. It’s just you pulling as the engine of a train, or drafting off the person in front of you with the utmost concentration to avoid the “kiss of death,” where your wheel contacts the bike ahead. And there you are in a team as you battle against the wind. We practiced this technique a lot during spring training. There was also a one-mile stretch of gravel into the wind.

Needless to say, we were all quite ecstatic to arrive at home of Tory Cross, the president of Illini 4000. Her dad grilled us up some delicious burgers and several of us rode her horses – she lives at a horse rescue! We rolled out as fast as possible, but didn’t quite make the planned 2:00 arrival time – who ever plans for a wind from the north in Illinois?!

Several hours and a minor detour later (the distance to and from Homer Lake), we found ourselves all together at Connor’s house, then riding as a part of a massive mob of orange cyclists… To the Alma Mater! We rode in this huge group to a crowd of wonderful, cheering people – a huge thank you to everyone who came and supported us! WAND-17 featured us on the 10:00 news, Daily Herald (newspaper of the suburbs) put us on top of the front page, and the same reporter, Marie Wilson, was on abc Chicago news to share the story!

In the evening, Blake’s lab had a fundraising dinner for us, which was incredibly delicious. Thank you so much to the Hydrosystems Lab for hosting us and providing this meal! We reached 1000 miles today, so we are almost one-fourth of the way through this trip. Great things are coming soon! In 3 days time (June 11), we will arrive in Chicago at Millennium Park around 11am. Home 2.0, here we come!

Back on country roads, our smaller groups sometimes rode together in large fun groups!

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