Day 24: Through the Rain, Again

Start/End: McHenry, IL/Marshall, WI
Mileage: 91.6+
Weather: Very rainy morning, with late afternoon clearing

This morning we woke up at the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Church at our normal wake up time, 5:55 AM, and members of the congregation already had a breakfast spread prepared and arranged for us to get our breakfasts. This was a motivator to get packed up quickly so that we could eat, but on the other hand, it was raining outside, which is not always a fun way to start the day. We got all packed up and enjoyed the delicious breakfast with cereal, bagels, egg casseroles, yoghurt and fruit. It was amazing and we were so delighted to start our day off with this meal, knowing that leaving Illinois would mean the return of hills.

This morning, our ride dedication went to ‘Uncle Al’, who battled lung cancer, beating it, but then was diagnosed and passed away from a type of throat cancer. This was a very difficult loss for his family and friends.

Following this and some announcements, we rolled out onto start our route. It was pouring rain, but at least it wasn’t too cold. For anyone familiar with McHenry, we travelled up route 31 north through town around 7:30 AM, you will know that we encountered quite a bit of traffic, fortunately most of it was going south. Getting out of McHenry, we continued our route through Richmond and Hebron before leaving Illinois (can you tell that I am from this area? We actually passed by the road my house is on a few miles from the route). The rain had let up before we reached Hebron, home of the 1952 state basketball champions as their basketball water tower reads. This meant that once we reached the state line, we were able to take nice pictures at the state line. Because there was not a state sign coming into Illinois on our route, many of us got a picture with the sign going the other way, too.

Wisconsin proved quite quickly to quite different from Illinois as there are hills. What a revelation! There were also quite a few more cow farms that we passed that were sometimes quite large in size. Welcome to the cheese state! There were a few more episodes of heavy rain throughout the ride, unfortunately, but the last 20 miles of the ride were clearer. Behind us, we left some very dark clouds, but we had sunshine and at times, some very beautiful new pavement with minimal traffic. It was almost eerie how beautiful the unoccupied road was that we almost questioned if we were allowed to be on it. Today, the rain brought out some pretty remarkable water birds, egrets and herons. We saw one take flight earlier in the day and a huge heron hanging out in some standing water later in the afternoon.

Tonight we are spending the night in Marshall, WI where we were greeted by some wonderful members of the congregation, but also wonderful aromas of our dinner which was being prepared. After all of the groups arrived, we got to eat a family style dinner consisting of turkey, bread, baked potatoes, green beans and apple sauce, then an amazing desserts later. After any day, regardless of the miles, this was a well received meal by the team.

So as we settle in tonight, we are watching some cool clouds roll into the area, while other members of the team have found a place to watch tonight’s Blackhawks/Lightning game…in hopes that tonight will be the night that the Blackhawks take home the Stanley Cup.

I would love to reflect upon my trial blog on our 90 mile practice ride and stayover….I remember being exhausted and feeling just so tired. I will not say that I am not tired, but I will say that it is great to see how much everyone’s physical and mental strength has changed in such a short time period.

Again, though, we must reflect on why we are doing this ride. We hope that we are providing hope and inspiration for others, whether it is to get through a chemo treatment, to hold the hand of a loved one, or even to eliminate risk factors for cancer. One day it is our vision that cancer will not be the disease that we know it as today. Stay positive, don’t let cancer take away your joy, hope, laughter or smiles. <3

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