Day 19: Back in Familiar Territory

Start/End: Rockville, IN/Champaign, IL
Mileage: 76+
Weather: Definitely sunburn weather…hot and sunny!

Today was a rather bittersweet day as we departed Rockville, where we had definitely gained a new family and perspective on how cancer can impact communities. This single church showed us so much kindness and generosity through emir actions that we just could not be more thankful. This morning we were treated to a pancake, scrambled eggs, ham and fruit breakfast, which tasted amazing.

This morning our ride was dedicated to the woman at the church who had started the tradition of the snack bags, as I had mentioned yesterday. She had passed away from cancer and so today we rode for her.

So we began what would turn out to be a long, hot ride and a busy day. One of the groups of riders had a visiting rider who was actually a kidney cancer survivor. At 65 years young and on a sweet recumbent bicycle, he had no trouble keeping pace and a solid conversation with the group. It was a pleasure riding with him.

The day hit a little bump in the road when we had realized that most of the entire team had missed a cue, finding themselves 3-6 miles off course. This was a bummer since we were on a tight schedule, but the team fought the winds and got back on cues and on track with the time. We were so grateful for the Cross family, who provided lunch on their equine rescue farm for the team. It was amazing and we got to learn about the farm, which is currently home to a blind horse that uses an echolocation box to see within a 15 foot radius. How cool!

We were pretty bummed that there was not a sign at the border of Illinois and Indiana for a photo opportunity like many of those that we had taken previously, but we continued into familiar territory where we had training rides in the spring. The land was flat and the corn is growing. We noticed that the rivers and lakes are at very high levels, damaging some crops, unfortunately.

Before going to the Alma Mater on campus, we all reconvened at a house near campus so that we could all ride in as a single group. It was an amazing feeling to be back on campus and to be greeted by so many friends of the organization. Additionally, there were reporters from WCIA and the Daily Illini who spoke with some of the riders about their experiences. All in all, it was a great experience.

After that, we mostly dispersed as many riders were staying with friends and family in this “home base”. Several met up for dinner, which was generously provided by a research group in the Hydro Systems Laboratory on campus, home to a previous year’s rider, Blake. We got to eat so much pizza, in addition to cookies, brownies and homemade ice cream from a gentleman who is actively involved in the Champaign-Urbana Bike Project. He explained how their organization is working towards a more bike friendly community and how we hope this will expand to other areas. So this was super cool.

So this is our first night apart and tomorrow we will be meeting at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center on campus at 7 AM, so if you missed us today, join us there! We will be heading to Bradley, IL tomorrow.

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