Day 63: Portland, We Have Arrived…Kinda

Today Ben, an alumni and former ride leader from 2015, dedicated the ride to Colleen, a friend of his who has been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. Colleen has a one-year-old son and husband.

Today was a complete spectrum of both emotion and challenge. We started our ride in Hood River and rode 75 miles and 5,500 feet of climbing to a suburb of Portland, Troutdale, Oregon. We had a majority of the climbing in the first 30 miles of the ride and it was extremely hard. We pushed our limits and pulled up a gravel road for 5 miles uphill through tall trees and small waterfalls. At the top we had amazing views of Mount Hood, the snowcapped wonder that is visible from both Portland and Hood River. Once we reached the top we even passed a trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail.  After the torturous uphill climbing we had stunning views of endless pine trees and hills. It was amazing to ride downhill at 30 mph, smelling fresh pine, and seeing all the amazing views. The last 10 miles of the ride was also very challenging with much uphill climbing as we made our way to the stayover, Melinda’s house, an Illinois alumni who will be hosting us for this evening.

As we pulled up drenched in sweat and grumpy we were greeted by the Portland alumni association with cheers and signs and a backyard already stocked with appetizers. The mood completely changed as we pulled off our shoes and soaked our feet in the small kiddie pool and chatted over lemonade in the backyard chairs. The Portland Illinois alumni are a tight knit community, and there were even guests in attendance who had no direct ties to Illinois, but just came out to show their support. It was an intimate night as we chatted and ate quintessentially Portland all-organic grub. There was even a bike-powered smoothie machine that we had a blast with.  It was some of the best food that we have had, and very nice to have a home cooked meal after a streak of donated restaurant pizza and pasta and lentils. The next morning the breakfast was amazing again, but the coffee really was the star of the show. Thanks for the donation Starbucks!

We did a Portrait session with Molly, the bubbly and positive social worker fighting cancer. Even though she sat before us with a shaved head, she talked of being happy to be surrounded by her loved ones and reflecting on what is important in life.

It was a crazy day filled with literal ups and downs but overall it was an i4k day I will always remember.

Smiling from the inside.



Comments (3)
  • Charles Su says:

    With great anticipation, I log on each day to read your daily blogs. Knowing you guys are doing well is important before I go to bed and after I wake up. I am sure I share these feelings with many parents out there. Follow the descriptions, I get a good feel of your extended journey (cheers to Illini-4000 at your 4000 mile mark!) filled with ups and downs. It is great to see your day ends on a successful note or being greeted by friends. Please keep up with the good work and be mindful of safety the remaining way. See you all soon.

  • You all were really the highlight of MY night. I’m just beginning to blog about it now! Wish we could have kept recording as we chatted – lots for me to consider and be grateful for. Sending you all endless energy and joy for your ride as you discover America and yourselves more deeply.

  • Paul Benson says:

    Enjoying reading the blog on a daily basis. Brings back a lot of great memories of seeing some of the places you are riding through when I rode my bike along similar route in summer of 1983. Congratulations to all the riders on a well organized bike trip.

Leave a Reply