Day 12: People

Christina dedicated to ride today to make her birthday extra special. She was initially inspired to join Illini 4000 for her aunt and her two cousins after her uncle, Ji Ding, passed away from liver cancer. Ji was actually one of the only survivors of a clinical trial several years ago, and then unfortunately the cancer came back her senior year of high school in 2015 and he passed away.

It is obvious that the team is improving their strength because the rolling hills today from Cleveland to Wooster barely fazed anyone. We were lucky today with the sunny skies and pretty scenery of a national park (no offense Ohio but your national parks could be another state’s forest preserve). Nonetheless the 76-mile day was made much easier with our gracious rest stop host.

Last year, the team happened to pass through a road side convenience store on the same route and encountered Troy, the wonderful store owner. He was so impressed with the team last year that he offered them complimentary ice cream and took a picture with them that ended up in the local paper and was displayed near the entrance of the store.  This year Troy organized a rest stop at the store. When we arrived we were offered a satisfying selection of sandwiches (anything besides PBJ is considered gourmet at this point) fruit and veggies, and milkshakes all around.  Some local reporters even interviewed Tyler and Zach and took pictures of the entire team.

Something that I have begun to take notice of recently is people’s reactions when we explain that we are riding across the country.  So far I have pretty much been faced with the spectrum of people like Troy and our other stayover hosts who have gone above and beyond and whereas other people in stores and others places have expressionless faces while talking in passing waiting in line at a store.  Today was my first extremely unpleasant with a pickup driver who then gave us an obscene gesture as he sped away honking while we were simply sharing the road with him.  These various reactions bring to light the spectrum of people that we share this Earth with. Overall the positive reactions have brought more joy into my life than darkness from the negative ones, and I hope this positivity means something for the rest of the world on a larger scale.

Since I accidentally brushed over Tuesday’s post (sorry followers) I made some adjustments to Team Member Tuesday and have now declared Thursday to also be fair game for our weekly interview. This week meet Maddie:

How is the ride going so far? (deep sigh) It’s not as hard as I expected but I think that’s because I had a lot of adrenaline during the first few days. Then my body started getting used to it so I think I was able to adjust that way.

What were people’s reactions when you told them you were doing this? Most people thought I was crazy but also after explaining the cause and the purpose of the organization they were more understanding of why I wanted to do it. Biking across the country not something that anyone can or would want to do, but everyone can agree that cancer research and patient support services are extremely important causes to support.

What has been the hardest part for you so far? The hardest part was having my body adjust to the sleeping and eating schedule. I was used to staying up late and then I was forced to wake up 5:45. It was also hard to eat in the morning at first.

What do you have to do for your position? I’m the co-social media chair with Christina. We post and comment on our Facebook and Instagram mainly. It is really important for our donors and the parents of the riders to see what we’re doing every day. I’m happy that this is a shared position because we get two different perspectives of the I4k experience.

How do you think participating in I4k will affect you after the ride?  I think that it has already made me understand myself a lot better. We’re with the same people 24/7 for 77 days straight so you have to learn how to constantly adjust and be with people. There is no time for ‘alone time’ really. It’s also made me into a more social person. I didn’t know anyone going into this, but now I can say I have 26 new friends.

What is your favorite thing to do or think about during the ride? I like singing to myself or talking with other riders if it’s a straight shot and easy terrain. But then if there is a really hard hill I always count backwards from 10 until I’m at the top.

What would you say to people who are considering applying for the team? Do it! I was nervous to apply at first. I had wanted to do it my freshman year but then I chickened out. I’m so glad I finally found the courage to do this because it has been an awesome experience so far.

Describe I4k in one word: family.

Hopefully you have read this far since this post was so long.


Comments (1)
  • Charles Su says:

    Happy birthdays to those who celebrate on the road. Thank you so much for dedicating today’s ride to my brother in law Dr. Ji Ding. In the last days of his hospice care, I visited him in Boston and wrote a poem. If you don’t mind I would like to share it with you here.

    「Last days at Kaplan Family Hospice House」
    Peaceful, tranquil,is the garden.
    The outside road leads all the way toward heaven.
    Plums, red as lips, are the fruits on the trees.
    How do they taste, bitter or sweet?
    Time passes slowly, space fills with joy.
    Between here and now, why worry about tomorrow.
    This garden feels so lively.
    It is so wonderful, to enjoy the serenity, wholeheartedly, endlessly…

    Below is the original, in Chinese, for a few who can read it, correct my translation please, thank you. Have a nice ride tomorrow.


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