Day 65: Goldendale, WA to Maupin, OR

Today we dedicated our ride to Kenneth Ballom, who battled a brain cancer diagnosis. We met Kenneth’s father the other day in Pullman, WA. He had recognized our support van and saw the Illini paint on it and asked us if we were from Champaign. It turned out that his father, Kenneth, used to be a vice chancellor there, and they were both from Illinois originally. We were excited to hear about his story and to talk about Illinois with someone who knew the area!

It is HOT out there now, folks, we have been outrunning summer so far but today it finally caught up to us. Today was a 71 mile day that we thankfully finished fairly quickly before it got too extremely hot out there for us. We had some truly beautiful downhills today: one into Oregon and one into the Deschutes River Valley. It is interesting because we are on the east side of Oregon that does not get much rain, so today was a ride through the desert! Tonight we are at Maupin Junior High School where we are lucky to have in-house showers! That is big time after such a hot day.

Another very important person on our team is one of our ride leaders: Steven. Steven did the ride in 2016 when he was a freshman, and had one of the most impactful experiences of his life. He applied to be a ride leader this year to give back that life-changing experience to all of us on the ride, and he has definitely accomplished that. The team agrees that we probably would have had a difficult time ever getting out of New York if it wasn’t for Steven. He has kept us really organized and has strived to run a tight ship since day one. He is really good at calling for food donations and has secured us countless meals and showers. He is always down to pull off of the road for something cool and engage with any and every stranger that we meet. He is a great, safe leader and I am really thankful to have spent the summer getting to know him and learning from him.

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