Day 5: Behind the Scenes with I4k

The ride dedication today was for Lou, the father of a medical school colleague of Zach’s dad, whom Zach knew personally. Lou had a rare cancer, merkel cell, and after he was in remission for two years, his son noticed a node on his neck. The Dr. said that once the node reached one inch in diameter that he should have it checked out, and once it reached this size, he was informed that he would have to undergo cancer surgery, radiation therapy, and dialysis.  As a self proclaimed “numbers guy” Lou figured that he would beat cancer in his own way by declining these harsh treatments. Within two weeks of this decision Lou passed away.

Today consisted of our first time riding through rain (for the entire 67 miles).  While this made the ride very unpleasant it was not enough to bring the girl gang riders down (myself, Julissa, Neeca, Christina, and Stefany) as we sung in chorus throughout the entirety of the trip.

Tonight the team happens to be staying in one of the “four corners” churches that make up the only spot in the US that four churches from different dominations reside on different street corners.  This town had a very warm, small town feel to it, and we were greeted by our hosts with Illini themed decorations, a delicious homemade meal, and friendly members of the community to chat with. We even had an enthusiastic museum tour guide give us a history of Palmyra, and how it came to be named that.  The team is very much looking forward to a semi-rest day tomorrow with a 23-mile ride to Rochester.

On another note:

Once people hear that we are doing this journey they usually have many questions (if they have any questions at all).  Many are surprised that we are a completely student run group.  To undertake a mission this grand in scale, it involves a lot of logistical planning that takes place behind the scenes on the day to day. Today I will introduce some of what goes on.

Logistics: (2 person job) Colin “route master” McKeough

This task involves checking the routes the day before to make sure there is no construction or potential hazards, making sure they do not have to plan re- routes, giving the team an overview in the morning, and explaining tricky cues.

To complete this job Colin uses Ride with GPS, an essential phone app for all I4kers.

Each day his job takes 40 minutes a day (20 at night and 20 in morning).

He got involved with this position because he was on the logistics committee leading up to the ride.

Portraits: (2 person job) Stefany “portraits gal” Stefany Veldhuizen

For this job, Stefany looks out for future portraits. To do this she asks the stayovers if they have community members interested in giving interviews, and encouraging the team to reach out to community.

For example, the other day, the team gathered at an ice cream shop during a rest stop where we met a woman who was a cancer survivor.  She then gave us her ‘portrait’.  Besides this, Stefany also sets up cameras, keeps track of the mics, and makes sure consent forms are filled out.

Overall her job varies in how much time it takes. It depends on if we actually gather a portrait that day or not. However, in the end, she and the other portraits partner Dylan, transcribe and edit the videos, which she assumes will take a long time after the ride.

For Stefany, being able to hear people’s stories is really moving.  She enjoys hearing the different perspectives, and helping them to inspire others. What she refers to as “the soul of why we ride”.


Readers, feel free to give feedback on the blog in the comments section and any suggestions for things you would be interested in reading about.

C’Est la Vie




Comments (2)
  • Mamma Benson says:

    Rain, rain, go away…Let us ride in ☀️ today!

  • Irene Zlevor says:

    Thanks for keeping up the daily blog! Thanks to the team for riding in Lou’s honor. He was a dear friend and a great guy.

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