Day 71. We awoke to music, and donuts bought by Walder because Shiqi got her bag out by 6:15. Breakfast was pretty much a freefrawl of bread, jelly, oatmeal, and other random food from the van. Graham, our treasurer, drove the van today so that all the riders were able to cross the finish line. The last pre-ride team meeting was held, and we brought it in for a team cheer. Rather than dedicating the ride to one specific individual today, we all reflected upon those for whom we ride. So many lives; so many reasons to ride a bicycle from sea to shining sea. So we set off for the last 21 miles of I4K, the supposed “hardest day ever” (that’s a joke) involving ridiculous amounts of steep climbing. As it turns out, there were a few climbs, but it was all nothing compared with the crazy adrenaline running through the air.

At last the bridge appeared, a red structure looming over the edge of a hill. We rode through the hilly city Sausalito, then reached the scenic overlook on the north side of the bridge. It’s a surreal mix of feelings: melancholy and joy. Disbelief and awe. Exuberant teammates jumped around, hugging, and photos abounded. Alex Massey, our stuffed corgi mascot, nearly fell to his death in the bay below, but was recused. Several hundred photos later, we were rolling again. We made our way to the west sidewalk of the bridge, albeit getting lost along the way. Then the team rode across the bridge, in one very long pace line, reaching the south end to find a great receiving party. There ahead were many family and friends, signs celebrating our arrival, and cheering. Anne led the way across the bridge and promptly burst into tears along with a few of the rest of us, crying and laughing all at once.

The celebration there was brief, and we descended a huge hill to Baker Beach. There we ceremoniously dipped our front wheels in the Pacific Ocean. Arthur threw a rock he had hit into the ocean, and we all cheered. Following the Baker Beach photo shoot, we carried/dragged our bikes through the deep sand… Now they were covered in sandy saltwater and the brakes were a bit janky. We rode back up the hill a few miles to greet our loved ones at Crissy Field. Additional confusion ensued concerning where on the large field to meet, but we all ended up in the same place. The Bay Area Alumni Club generously provided riders with Jimmy John’s boxed lunches. After lingering for extended good-byes, the van was unloaded and we disassembled our bikes for a trip back to Illinois. Incredibly, all 20 bicycles fit with enough room for 3 van drivers.

This team is amazing. We all now go our separate ways. Some riders will stay one or two nights at the stayover. Some are hanging with family or friends. Many of us graduated and have to move on to the real world, while others have semesters to come at the University of Illinois. Whatever may come in the future, we are united in our struggles and triumphs. We are forever a team, and this is who we are:

Here is a summary of the 2014 Illini 4000 Trek Bike America Team, by the numbers (may involve minor estimation):
– 4 mountain ranges crossed
– 6 viewings of Pitch Perfect
– 16 states
– 20 riders & bicycles
– 28 McDonalds
– 30 portraits of people we met and were touched by their stories
– 31.6 miles of climbing
– 70 tubes
– 71 days
– 155 DQ Blizzards consumed
– $472 saved at Grocery Outlet Bargain Market
– 800+ pb&j sandwiches
– 4489.6 miles
– countless lives impacted, and people for whom we rode

I4K Records set:
– Longest distance travelled in one day: 113 miles
– Highest elevation reached: 10,276 feet
– Longest distance travelled in four days consecutively: 371.7 miles
– Most climbing in one day: 7,600 feet

Also, I’d like to conclude with a summary of inside jokes and hilarious experiences, also known as the rules of I4K. The team requested I put them on this blog post.
1. There’s always another hill.
2. The stayover is always on the top of a hill.
3. Sycamore Street is evil.
4. Flush early, flush often.
5. Man up.
6. Groundhogs come in twos.
7. Deserts are hot.
8. If you say there’s a lake, there must be a lake or you get 3 slaps.
9. Anything that has the word ‘pleasant’ in its name isn’t.
10. If you drove any part of the day, you’re not allowed to complain about that day.
11. No self-fulfilling prophecies.
12. Closing your eyes makes it so that you cannot be seen by: bears, mosquitos, dinosaurs, wind, fires, 12%+ grades, and volcanoes*
13. Never read the rider contract.
14. Pedal faster if you hear music.
15. Food must not be wasted. Someone will eat it!
16. No Drake-inspired rules.
17. Follow the rules.
* or youth pastors

Thank you so much to the fabulous readers and supporters of our team. Thank you to everyone who helped us along the way! We could have never done it without you. Please remember that you can still donate to our cause online until the end of August – now that you can see we’ve actually accomplished the goal of reaching the Pacific Ocean! It’s an incredible feeling to have spent the entire summer this way, and it’s a summer none of us will ever forget. I4K out; until next summer!

Here we are, in front of that pretty red bridge. We couldn't have done it without your help, and it is for you that we ride.

Comments (4)
  • Sue Hausner says:

    Thank you to an amazing group of young people. You are all awesome and your dedication has inspired many of us. I wish, with all my heart, I could have been with you all yesterday in San Fran to tell you in person how great I think you are. Grace, your blogs have been absolutely wonderful. They have made us feel like we are a part of your experience, so special thanks to you. I hope you are all as proud of yourselves as we are of you.

    Josh’s Gram

  • Cindy Iverson says:

    What an incredible journey. Congratulations! We are so proud of you guys for your passion, compassion and perserverence.

    Grace, a huge thank you for your blog posts–it was really fun to see how each day went. You have a nice writing style and it made us feel like we were part of the trip. We were all cheering for you and the team. Cindy & Gary (Ryan’s people)

  • John and Holly Knicker says:

    What an amazing journey. And accomplishment! We are sure this experience must be, and will remain, one of each of your’s biggest and best. Congratulations to all of you. We are sure the entire community of cancer affected people appreciate your accomplishments. Go I4K !!

  • Monica Levy says:

    Congratulations to all of you! What an accomplishment to finish the trip! We are so proud of all of you and for the money you raised for such a horrible disease! The experiences you encountered will be remembered by all that you saw and talked to during your trip and shared with everyone you know! So grateful that you keep us in touch with the blogs everyday! Thank you!

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