Day 65

It may have started off a bit chilly, but today was one of the hottest days we have ever ridden in. Topping out at 105 degrees, apparently that’s pretty average for Redding. Before leaving Mount Shasta this morning, we dedicated the ride to Sue Mejer, a friend of Grace’s grandmother, Jan. Sue goes to the same church as Jan and has had two bouts with cancer and treatments. Jan has kept Sue and Grace’s mother on the church’s prayer list, and also has made displays and presentations about what the Illini 4000 team is doing to fight cancer.

Today we descended into Redding, the northernmost city in the Sacramento Valley. Our starting elevation was 3,500 ft and we ended at 500 ft. Because of this, there was a lot of downhill, yet still 3,300 ft of climbing. We started the day off with a ridiculous little winding forest road that was extraordinarily steep and full of holes and random gravel patches. It was actually a bit of a relief when we got to the interstate I-5, which has a very wide shoulder. This is the road we spent the most time on today, including a patch of smooth newly-constructed road that wasn’t even open to cars yet. It was a beautiful ride, with mountains all around the roadside dotted with blackberry bushes and fruit trees.

Upon arriving at First United Methodist Church, we were welcomed by Peggy, who kindly offered to buy the team footlong sandwiches, chips, and, most importantly, cookies from Subway! We are blown away by this church’s generosity. It is so great to be accepted with open arms… And food. Then, dripping with sweat, we drove the van in a few trips to the Shasta Family YMCA for free showers. Perhaps as we left in the several-minute van drive, we returned to the church just as sweaty as we had left. There was also a trip to the bike shop, and time to hand-wash clothing, which dried instantaneously in the dry heat. Around 6:00, a reporter from a local newspaper came and interviewed and photographed our team. Then, the church provided a potluck dinner. Community and church members came to meet us. It was exciting to talk to so many people interested in our cause. Blake gave a presentation about the Illini 4000, including the “What People Do” trailer and a recent portrait. There was another trip to Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, while some riders rode to see a glass bridge at dusk.

Enjoying the delicious potluck dinner provided by First United Methodist Church!

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