Day 10: No Longer in an Empire State of Mind

Start/End: Westfield, NY/Ashtabula, OH
Miles: 75+
Weather: Chilly and cloudy but overall nice

To start off, I want to make sure that everyone knows that Illini 4000 is totally all over social media. If you are looking for photos of the trip (lots of group pictures!) can be found at Instagram.com/Illini4000 . So feel free to explore that!

Ok. Now to today. This morning we were so spoiled by the First United Methodist Church that provided us with cereal, milk, juice, bagels, cream cheese and bananas. It was amazing. A member from the church also came to check in on us and also to share her story with how cancer has impacted her life. We are so thankful that she was willing to do this.

Our ride this morning was dedicated to Javier, an uncle of a rider who passed away from cancer four years ago. Cancer is just so widespread and impactful that it is heartbreaking. So today, this ride was for Javier.

It was cold and misty when we started the ride. All of our riders put some oil on the chains and prepped our bikes for the ride. And with that, we were ready to go! Right out of town, we passed a Welch’s factory! We eat so much jelly at lunch….good thing to keep in mind. At first I thought this was an odd place for this factory until the next several miles (like 30) were just filled with vineyards. It was a beautiful view to see rows of grapevines in front of Lake Erie. There were also just so many beautiful houses overlooking the lake, many having watchtower/lighthouse fixtures built into the house. They were beautiful.

And then we passed our first state line, if you don’t include our short hop into New Jersey. We passed through all of Pennsylvania today- feeling rather accomplished. We stopped for lunch midway through the ride at the Lincoln Community Center, the public library. They opened up a room for us to sit in out of the cold and eat our sandwiches. That was so incredibly kind of them. Thank you!

Before too long we entered into Ohio! Not long after crossing the state line, my group saw a groundhog in the distance….I am pretty sure that Puxatawnee Phil was on vacation or running away…or secretly a buckeye. But don’t tell anyone.

It was a very fast day for the group that I was in, and many groups really just knocked out the ride today. Yesterday we got some rest in our muscles that made us all just ready to go. We were thankful that it was not raining.

Also, if anyone is riding next year, I challenge you to count the number of ice cream parlors that you pass on the ride. From an economic standpoint, it is remarkable how many ice cream shops exist. Crazy.

It is an early evening, but many of us are headed to bed a little early. Tomorrow we will get to Cleveland! But for tonight, we are staying in the generosity of our hosts at the First Presbyterian Church in Ashtabula!

-LAH

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