Day 9

State #4… West Virginia! We dedicated today’s ride to Mr. Jim, Blake’s friend as well as the father of his best friend, who is facing terminal brain cancer. We need that perspective and focused purpose as we begin each day. Today we rode out of the extraordinarily hilly and steep city of Pittsburgh, via some roads and some bike paths. Sycamore Street was a particular vicious climb that none of us really liked. But Jonny Cagwin (see blog post Day 7), who rode with us for the first 8 miles, took it like a champ. Then, we moved onto a gravel bike path about which we had highly differing opinions: scenic, boring, fun, difficult, annoying… It was certainly a relief to eat PB&J at the end of that path. Lunch was followed by a steep bluff and then a paved bike path to Wheeling, West Virginia.

Before we arrived at the stayover, several ride groups collected portraits. One man told us his story of how both his parents died from cancer. Another woman, Joyce, lost her sister at age 10 and later her mother from cancer, which caused her family to break apart from grief. The third story, Kathryn, mother of 7, was diagnosed with cancer and focused on her family to get her through the disease to a current state of remission. Through these stories, we connect with people and often find a continuing strand of hope and healing. We also received generous donations at our rest stops today, including McDonald’s.

We are extraordinarily grateful to St. John’s EP Church for providing a cozy place to stay, a delicious dinner, and breakfast in the morning. Reverend Ed Thurmond, the pastor of the church, coordinated to give us free showers at Centre Town Fitness a block away, complete with fluffy towels. He also kindly shared with us his story about how he lost his wife to cancer. Today being the first day of portraits, we all have a lot to process. We’re excited to meet more people the rest of the summer!

The people who survived Sycamore Street ;)

Comments (5)
  • Dave Deetjen says:

    I nosed around a bit and found the church where the team is staying at tonight. They have the Illini4000 posted on their Missions webpage. (scroll down to the bottom) It looks like they’ve been anticipating your arrival!

  • Dave Deetjen says:

    I pasted their URL in the “Website” box for “Leave a Reply”. It didn’t come through as I expected. Here it is:

  • msoltys Matthew Soltys says:

    The climb out I Pittsburg was my favorite. I should of mentioned that my team stoped at a small dinner right out side of Pittsburg and meet an amazing lady who gave us free coffee and food. Wish your team could of stoped there. You guys are almost to the flat mid west! Keep it up.

  • cfee Casey Fee says:

    Grace! Thanks so much for this post about the Portraits. I am so excited to hear you all are hearing people’s stories. I actually teared up at work when I read this. Keep up the good work everyone! I can’t wait to hear more.

  • aknicker Alex Knicker says:

    Just a side note that that’s not quite including everyone who made it up sycamore ;)

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