Preparing for the Ride: Test Ride

As you may or may not know, each Saturday after our spring break have been devoted to getting in large mile days. We started out with 30 miles the first week and gradually worked up to today’s route…. So here we go!

Today’s Overview:
Theme: “I get by with a little help from my friends”
Start/End location: Champaign, IL/Fairmount, IL
Mileage: 92.6 +/- however many miles you went off route :)
Weather: Sunny and not very cloudy at all, winds not bad in AM, low near 50 high in the upper 80′s
Highlight: We crossed out first state line! (Indiana)

Today could not have been a more beautiful day to ride a bike in the name of fighting cancer. This would be our first full day in the life of what it is like to be on Illini 4000. We arrived at the Armory on the U of I campus and packed the van (generously provided by the Young family for our use). And then we were off.

Our first leg of the ride was to Kickapoo State Park, and about 28 miles. It warmed up pretty quickly but the ride was going great and many groups were just cruising along. Once we got to Kickapoo, we took a short break, ate some snacks and filled up our water bottles and were then back on the road.

We literally turned out of the parking lot that we were in onto our first hill of the day. And by hill, it was actually, well a hill. I never knew the park had so many hills and i am pretty sure we went each of them…and down. Climbing hills sounds like the more harder of the two, which is valid (especially when everyone climbs very differently); however, downhills present their own challenges. As we all go up hills differently, we go downhills differently. The group I was in loved flying downhills….but no big surprise to anyone who has ridden in a car with me, I road the brake (fluttering them of course to avoid them overheating). Going fast with such little tires is just not my cup of tea.

Anyhow, we did it. Thought the worst was over. But before I talk about that….we crossed a state line!!! We made it to Indiana!!!! So cool. Shortly after crossing the state line, we stopped for lunch, which was great because I was starving, and so were others. So we all got to eat 2 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Probably the best thing ever :)

The next part of the road in Indiana was tough: there’s hills there, steep hills. At this rate, mountain climbing on a bike seem pretty intimidating, but I know when we get there, we will all climb mountains and see beautiful sites.

Um….we came back to Illinois and are settling down now to sleep at Fairmount Evangelical Methodist church that has been so generous to let us stay with them! Ate some spaghetti and lentils which was sooooo yummy and so needed. I am not sure if I have ever had lentils but they are pretty remarkable. Definitely ok with eating that meal everyday.

After dinner and such, we had two wonderful woman who are both students at the Univeristy of Illinois come and give portraits of how Cancer has impacted their life. Grace, a 2014 rider, and Christina, who is actually in my major sat down and really opened up. I am so honored to call both of these women my friends. I got the opportunity to sit in on Christina’s portrait where she talked about her father being diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer about 2 and a half years ago. It was hard to hear about how on top of being a student, she worked hard to spend time with her father and stay connected from afar before her father passed away last summer. She talked about the grief process being continuous and how even know, it is still very impactful on her life. But Christina stressed the importance of God and community in her life. Her faith has grown throughout all of this and her friendships and appreciation for those around her is incredible. One piece of advice for anyone looking to comfort a friend in this situation is that, even though asking what a person needs is great, a grieving person often doesn’t know. So sometimes it is about looking for those needs and filling them without asking.

So I am new to this blogging thing and trying to develop a style, but I would like to include some personal reflections about the ride from my standpoint. It’s been a long day. I had senior design due yesterday and this week was crazy, but I had been looking forward to the ride all week. And then it came. I was a little under the weather. My stomach hurt which is just not the best to cycle with, but I knew I could push through. I am so thankful for the group I road with today because they were great. They encouraged me to keep going and were so kind to slow the pace when I just was not feeling well. That is where the theme of today’s ride comes from because I could not have done it without them. Most of my life, I have been someone to run and bike on my own and being with a group has been a huge difference, and I can’t imagine a better group to ride with this summer.

So with that, going to bed so that I can be ready to wake up and ride again tomorrow

Comments (4)
  • Jai Hillard says:

    Hi Lauraleigh,

    I promised I’d check out your blog – it’s great! The last bike I rode had training wheels, so definitely much respect to you for ripping through Kickapoo.

  • Julie Adams says:

    Hey, Lauraleigh…
    Uncle Ron and I will be following your progress through your blog. We are very proud of your determination and perseverance in this riding adventure. We know you will be a great blogger for the group and look forward to keeping in touch.

  • Arthur Tseng Arthur Tseng says:

    The key to climbing mountains is to go at your own pace. You don’t need to rush it. As you get to the appalachians and the rockies, the climbs will be like 10-20 miles long. Try to focus on your surrounding and the view. If you focus on the pain in your legs, you will get worn out really quickly!

  • lheffner lheffner says:

    Jai, thanks! Training wheels…I remember when I leaned on mine too much and so they broke off…that was a sad day.

    And thanks Aunt Julie! I am glad that I have this great method to keep everyone updated :)

    Arthur, thanks for the advice. I will try to keep my focus on the beauty of the surroundings. Great advice that I am sure is much needed.

Leave a Reply