Day 26: An Early Morning, Pleasant Evening on the River

Start/End: Wisconsin Dells/La Crosse, WI
Mileage: 93+
Weather: Beautiful!

It gives me so much joy to report that today that we had great weather! If you have been keeping up with our adventures, you will know that has just not always been the case. Anyhow, I will get started by saying a huge thank you to St. Cecilia’s Church in Wisconsin Dells for allowing us to use their space. We were able to spread out in different rooms, allowing some slightly different “lights out” times. We cannot express how important it is to this trip that we just have so many kind people who are gracious enough to let us use their facilities.

Today’s ride, a long one, was dedicated to a family friend of a rider who has been battling a rare form of brain cancer. While experimental treatments have seemed to be working OK, it is still very hard even for basic motor functions at time, which have required speech and physical therapy. This can be very difficult for a family, but especially the patient.

Unlike most days, today we started our ride at 6 AM, instead of the regular 7 AM start because of the high mileage and potential forecast of some thunderstorms. This is not totally a-typical for the team, but in the end, a lot of folks really enjoyed the early start (definitely not something you would expect to hear from college students), but ending before it gets very hot and windier is nice.

All in all, we just had a beautiful day for biking, and I think I may have said that about yesterday too, but it just was. Along the route, we got a nice taste of a little bit of climbing, like we may experience in Colorado on a much smaller scale. Additionally we had some more practice on downhills, which seem easier, but they can actually prove to be challenging, in making sure we can safely slow down and be aware of any road hazards. We also got to see a lot of baby animals along the way which were all pretty cute diversions from the riding. We saw baby cows, horses, goats and sheep. It is always interesting to learn which teammates dislike certain animals and to learn why. Gives us something to talk about on the route!

We had the chance to go through Amish country, like what we had passed through further roast. It was interesting to see the difference in the muscle build of the animals that were used to help work the land instead of farm equipment that many of us are more used to. The one challenge going through Amish country is being very alert for manure on the road, as the horses and carts/buggies do use he roads and that is just not something you would like to have on your bike!

Arriving into La Crosse, we were welcomed by some pretty amazing friends of Illini 4000. When a few of us visited a local bike shop, there were fellow Illini (and Blackhawks fans) among the staff. At the church, we were warmly received and not only given access to showers at a local YMCA, but we were also shuttled to a church member’s private home for a cookout/pool party/kayak adventure. When we arrived, the food had already been prepared and there was just so much food available, that we all we quite full by the end of it. Many of us used the pool and even tried out kayaking on the Mississippi River’s main channel! Fortunately, there was not a lot of boat traffic at that time. We are so thankful to this family and their friends for making our stay in La Crosse amazing.

Hopefully from all of this, you will understand why I was so tired last night and wasn’t able to post this sooner. Had a great day, though.

-LAH

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