Iowa & the ride thus far

Here’s my first blog post of the trip– and my first time documenting anything that’s happened in writing! I’m first going to write a bit about the trip in general/how it’s been going and then more detail about the last few days.

Things I learned on the ride before hitting Chicago:
-New York is more expensive than I remembered.
-Climbing the Appalachians on a bike is really, really difficult. The uphills are incredibly challenging and the downhills are scary fast!
-There’s a lot of roadkill. Everywhere.
-That your legs can always hurt more.
-You need your teammates to push you through hard days.
-Your butt never stops hurting.
-The generosity we’ve experienced at churches we’ve stayed at is astounding.
-Little interactions with people we meet at fast food restaurants, out their car windows, or on the sidewalk help push us along everyday.
-Laundry is a wonderful thing.
-You can always eat more (and should).
-Showers are also wonderful things.
-My teammates are wonderful people. And I’m not sick of them after 23 days of being together 24/7! :)

Chicago was a lot of fun. It was nice being at home and seeing lots of friends, neighbors, and I4K supporters! Sleeping in a memory foam bed after 2.5 weeks on a sleeping pad was pretty crazy. I ate great food and had even better company. The 36 hours at home flew by. It was nice to enjoy the usual comforts of home, including a hot bath and laundry! A massage and accupuncture were well enjoyed as well. It was a relaxing time! On our last day in Chicago, we had the picnic and ride-along with supporters. Gerrit, a family friend of mine, rode with us from downtown Chicago to Prospect Heights and the rest of my ride along crew (my mom and two neighbors– Tracey Cascarano and Harry Perl) joined from Caldwell Park to Prospect Heights for a 15 mile ride. It was neat to give them a taste of our everyday life and for them to have a better image of what a ride day looks like.

Yesterday (Day 22) was a rough one! It was a century ride (cycling term– any ride over 100 miles). We rode through three states in one day– Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa– and had an incredibly strong crosswind of 20-30mph as well as some serious hills through the Driftless region of the Midwest. Who knew Illinois had so many hills?! Today was another century ride, this time just through Iowa. The first 40-50 miles were very challenging for me; we hit a lot of hills and had some serious climbing. My legs were still really feeling it from yesterday’s ride, too, so that wasn’t helping. There was also construction and some unexpected detours today that added to our mileage! At mile 27, though, we saw the Field of Dreams movie set field! It was a nice stop along the way and an interesting sight to see. After our lunch stop around mile 50, I started to feel a lot better and got in the groove of the day. I relied on some teammates for good conversation (thanks Eric and Josh!) to take my mind off my legs and it was a great strategy because the next 25 miles just flew by. Josh and I had one almost accident where we rode a little too close together and were supporting each other with our handlebars and weren’t quite sure how to get back to vertical! But it all worked out and neither of us fell, so that was a plus. As Josh said, we were “bike dancing!” The last 25 miles were pretty good too (minus some more detours for construction) and we were the first group in today (which is a big change from what I’m used to), so I’m currently writing this on the couch that I’ll be sleeping on, since I was here early enough to claim one! We had the usual pasta with lentils for dinner and it was yummy as always. Can’t wait to get tucked in for the night– there’s a crazy storm brewing outside, so I’m glad we’re sleeping in the basement of the church tonight! That’s all for now; thanks for reading!

PS:  The pictures below are of the Field of Dreams and of Eric in a surprisingly hilly part of Iowa!

Comments (8)
  • Tracey Cascarano says:

    So exciting to follow the Illini 4000 Team and cheer Christy and all of you on! You are all amazing and I was incredibly honored and thrilled to ride in a small part of your journey. All the best and Godspeed!

    XOXO Tracey

  • Peggy Nichols says:

    Dear Christy,

    Your post made me laugh out loud! And I was smiling as I remembered the 36 hours you were home – to me it was a whirlwind and to you it was relaxing – just a reminder of the gift of youth!

    I love hearing more details about a day on the ride and am glad you and Josh stayed upright through the dance. It looks like you’ve had some SE winds these last two days, I hope it felt that way to you and that you manage to avoid the storms. We’re getting a doozy at the moment.

    Sending love,


  • Mary Ittner says:

    May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand. Gaelic Blessing

    We love you Christy! Thank you for the great update!

    Mary and Gary

  • Ann Nichols says:

    Hola, Sobrina. Que tal hoy? Ojala muy bien. Thanks so much for your update. I also laughed (especially at the repetition of laundry) and am glad you had a good experience with “the dance”. Read your piece to Phyllis who is so excited about your trip and is recalling her adventures in the west. The four boys I’m tutoring are also following you via the route map. So proud of you, Chris, and sorry I missed you in Chicago. The trip to Cincy was really good. For comic relief you might look at youTube “clapping cats in French”. You, especially, would like it. Take care and enjoy Nebraska. love, Aunt Ann

  • Mary Mlot says:

    I am a former Beverly resident who lives in Co. I moved away from Chicago in 1988 but continue subscribing to the Beverly Review. I read about this ride in the BR and wanted to ssend wishes for a safe and fun ride! I love road biking and have done many long distance day rides and a few multiple day events. My husband and I live in Littleton, CO – if u are in our area give us a shout and if we will see if we can offer a meal or lodging. Cheers and hsppy pedaling.

  • Sue Hausner says:

    Hi Christy,

    I loved reading your blog. It was great meeting you in Clifton and seeing you again in Chicago. Especially liked the part about your bike dancing with Josh. Hope the rest of your ride is a wonderful adventure.

    Sue, Josh’s gram

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  • cnichols cnichols says:

    Sorry for the extremely delayed reply– thank you all so much for your comments! Sending love and hugs to family and friends!

    @Mary, thank you for reaching out! We are having such a phenomenal ride. We just finished Colorado a few days ago and loved it so much. The descent from Rabbit Ears Pass down into Steamboat was a highlight of the trip for all riders. We’re now one day out of Salt Lake! It’s possible that future teams may take a route near you… we’ll keep it in mind! Thanks again!

    @Sue, it was great meeting you too! Hope all is well. Can’t wait to see where the next location that Josh’s family pops up to visit is!

    I’ll blog again soon– be sure to check it out!

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