Day 1: Ups and Downs

Quote of the day: “51 Kickapoos?  I wasn’t even counting but I bet Josh was just Joshing” – Neeca

Firstly, huge shout out to Bipin and his family for graciously hosting our team the past 2 days, we are very grateful for your hospitality.

I would compare the first day of Illini 4000 like so; have you come home one night feeling really optimistic, and then accidentally walked face first into a screen door (and maybe then ripped the door off the hinges)? If so, then you would understand how I4k day 1 felt today.

Although the team suffered few losses today, the metaphorical screen door was not enough to bring down team morale. The route from Central Park to Beacon, located in upstate New York, consisted of scenic views of the New York City skyline, the Hudson Bay and River, Victorian style homes nestled along the water in small towns, and Bear Mountain.  It baffled me that this type of rustic beauty was located only 30 miles away from the biggest city in the country.

Even though 63 miles is considered a shorter route for the team, we climbed more than 3,600 feet of elevation and descended 3,500 feet in total.  Broken down this entailed many climbs and many downhill speed rushes. Because the team was not used to this type of speed burst, there was a downhill collision (which resulted in no serious injury), a flat tube and a busted tire, and some heat induced nausea.

Overall, if every day of this ride has the weather, views, and feeling of fellowship amongst members like today, then I would consider this summer one of the best of my life.

Lesson of the day: exercise caution on downhill rolls.

MB

 

Big appetites in the Big Apple

The team’s first full day in the Big Apple entailed meet and greets, subway rides, and FOOD. To start the day we headed from our stayover in Brooklyn to Manhattan to meet with the folks at Daymon Runyon, a cancer research group. Damon Runyon is unique because they target researchers in the early stages of their careers where it is usually hard to get funding from other sources. We learned that they award funds to around 10% of their applicants, similar to the acceptance rates of Ivy League universities.

From browsing their newsletter I learned that Illini 4000 was a donor in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 in the previous year. Our research fellow gave us an overview of the work that he does, describing what it is like to be on the chemical side of cancer research.

From there, some of the team ventured through the lower East side doing a ‘food tour’ (think doughnuts, pickles, and sesame pancake sandwiches) with an I4k alum while the rest of the team explored Wall St and met up with friends.

Later in the day came our brush with fame when we were invited to a fundraising dinner for mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, attended by members of the Muslim community. Our meeting with him was organized through the host of our stayover, who happened to be childhood friends with de Blasio. To my surprise Bill was an extremely tall (6’5”), down to Earth, and funny guy. After giving him our elevator spheel he seemed very impressed, and wished us luck on the ride.

We arrived back to Brooklyn and were offered even more food from our gracious hosts, which consisted of traditional Indian samosas. After our snack the team assumed the normal routine of the ride which consisted of pumping bike tires, getting bike apparel ready, and setting up sleeping bags to prepare for a 5:45 AM wake up call and a 63 mile day.

Stay tuned

MB

Today’s the day

The day the team has been waiting for all year has finally come! For me, today will be spent packing and gathering any last minute items, taking a ‘before picture’ to compare to the end of the trip, and saying goodbye to my family. Later tonight the team will depart from Union Station in downtown Chicago and begin our journey to NYC. Myself along with a few others will be driving the van (who has yet to be officially named) to Brooklyn where we will be staying at the relative of the original founder of Illini 4000’s house. The rest of the team will be taking the Amtrak to NYC and packing their bikes into boxes that will fit on the train.
Earlier this week it was revealed that we will be meeting the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio. After years of the team reaching out to him, this year he finally agreed. I don’t know about the rest of the team but the closest I’ve come to meeting someone famous was seeing wax figures in Las Vegas so I’m hoping I can play it cool when meeting Bill.
We will start the first day of biking this Sunday in hilly New York state. During our training we would ride to Kickapoo state park about 30 miles away from Champaign to practice hills. At the park there is a “wall” (which in reality is a very small climb compared to what we will be facing). The team has been informed that day one of biking will entail 55 Kickapoo hills. Pray for us folks.
Over and out.

MB

The rainy day

It was a dark and stormy day in Champaign this morning as the Illini 4000 team woke up and anxiously awaited the decision from ride leaders Zach and Tyler. With 17 mph winds and projected lightning strikes throughout the day, the 90 mile ride was called off-much to the approval of the teammates. Many of the riders took advantage of the morning off to prepare for finals sleep all morning.

To prepare riders for a typical I4K night a ‘mock stayover’ was planned to get used to the daily routine of the summer. Chores included preparing dinner, a flat tire and tent setup tutorial, cold calling restaurants for food donations (with no luck), and social media updates.

The standard meal of spaghetti, red sauce and lentils was served and to my surprise it was very satisfying…updates will be provided at the end of the summer whether I will still look forward to this dish or the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches served during the ride.

This evening provided us with a taste of what we will experience this summer and I am looking forward to spending more time bonding with the team.

Rider shout outs: Earlier this week riders Michaeline and Christine donated 8 inches of hair. With a multitude of organizations accepting donations, they chose Pantene Beautiful Lengths to ensure that cancer patients would receive their donations. Awesome job girls!

MB

 

Deadline Extension

Still want to apply for the Illini 4000, but missed the deadline? Well you’re in luck!. We decided to extend the deadline another week just for you. The new deadline will be Wednesday, September 21st at 11:59pm.

If you’re still unsure and have more questions, we’ve got another info session coming up too. It will be Monday, September 19th at 6pm in the English Building , room 150.

 

Apply Now Before You’re Too Late

For those of you still interested in joining the Illini 4000, we’ve got one more info session tonight (September 8th) at 8pm in the English Building, room 259. The deadline for applications will be September 14th at 11:59pm.
Check it out before its too late at illini4000.org/apply/