Join the 2017 Bike America Team!

The Illini 4000 is recruiting again, looking for people interested in helping in the fight against cancer. We have one more info session Thursday, September 8th at 8pm in the English building, room 259. If you’ve already been to an info session and are as ecstatic about Illini 4000 as we all are, the application is now available.

If you are ready, you can Apply Now!

Feel free to get ahold of us with any questions you may have at contactus@illini4000.org

 

Day 71: Petaluma to San Fran!

What a day! We have officially made it! It’s funny how some of the biggest moments are sometimes the hardest to put into words. It was an incredible ending to an absolutely amazing summer, with an even better group of people.

Today’s ride was dedicated to Mofei’s friend’s friend, Mingxuan Ju. After he was diagnosed 9 months ago, he decided to donate all of his healthy organs. Unfortunately, he passed away 99 days ago.

Our ride was 47 very hilly, very curvy miles, but we were all so excited that I think adrenalin pushed us up the hills. Catherine Kemp’s brother was kind enough to drive the van for us so that no one had to miss out on today’s ride.

We got to the Golden Gate Bridge, took a million pictures, and then finally crossed. It was very populated, but we definitely took in what we were doing. It felt surreal to remember crossing the bridge in NYC, and to be crossing an even larger bridge on the opposite side of the country.

Across the bridge were greeted by family and friends at Baker’s Bay. This trip would not have been possible without all of their support, and it was fun celebrating with them.

We raised $87,000 and collected 36 portraits this summer. It’s an accomplishment we are proud of!

However I wrap this up won’t be enough. But I’ll end with this: Thank you to everyone that followed us, supported us, was kind to us on the road, and provided for us. Our mission wouldn’t have been successful without you. And to everyone who has fought or is fighting cancer: thank you for inspiring us each and every day. We sincerely hope that this ride will not be necessary in the future. Until then, we will continue fighting cancer on two wheels.

DR

Day 70: Lower Lake to Petaluma

Today was a great day! Lindsey and I dedicated today’s ride to our own Jack’s. Jack Marston, the father of 2 of Lindsey’s classmates, died in 2004 of skin cancer. A close family friend of mine, Captain Jack, has gall bladder cancer and it has recently spread. He is a very kind, loyal man with the sharpest memory and a love for sports.

Today’s ride had quite a bit of elevation change, and with it temperature change. We started in our warm gear, took it off at the top of the first big climb, and then froze on the descent. Today’s down hills were some of the most fun we’ve had. The roads were very curvy and beautifully lined with tall trees. The views of Napa were gorgeous, and we rode past numerous vineyards. Today is the first day we got to see the typical beauty of California. We also got to appreciate the beauty, because the other side of the mountain wasn’t scalding hot, and we didn’t experience any horrible winds. Everyone had a very enjoyable ride!

Lindsey worked at a water buffalo farm, Double 8 Dairy, in Petaluma last summer, and we got to visit it! She gave us a tour of the farm, we played with baby water buffalo, and tasted many flavors of water buffalo gelato that they make in house. It was so fun seeing her so excited to show all of us, and we had a wonderful time.

We did dessert before dinner, but dinner was also a success. In-N-Out is a popular burger chain in the west, and we all decided that we’d rather go there than have pasta and lentils. It was a fun last dinner together.

We are all in disbelief that we finish our ride tomorrow. It’s a very bittersweet feeling, but we are very much anticipating the sense of accomplishment we will feel as we cross the bridge. It will be odd not being together constantly, but we know that we will always share this unbelievable experience.

We are having a jersey signing party tonight and probably staying up way too late reminiscing about favorite and funny moments. Lindsey is currently playing sad songs like “You’ll Be In My Heart.” It has been an incredible summer that deserves to be reflected on. I am looking forward to spending this last night together.

We’ll see many of you across the bridge tomorrow!

DR

Day 69: Orland to Lower Lake

This morning Maren dedicated our ride to her papa, Stan Morgan. He passed from liver cancer 5 years ago and August 8 is b her nana and papa’s anniversary. Since we are done riding on the 7th, we rode for him today.

The morning started out a bit chilly, but perfect riding weather. However, we started to smell smoke around mile 14 and learned that there was a wildfire in the area. We ended up shuttling 50 miles in order to avoid low air quality. During our wait, we hung out at a Starbucks, where we talked to a lot of people about what we were doing and why. It created a lot of great conversations and the employees were kind and gave some of us our drinks for free.

It was a bit tough getting back on the bike after such a long wait, but we finished the last 27 miles strong. We climbed through some mountains and over rolling hills, enjoying the change in scenery from the last two flatter days.

We all did a great job of just enjoying our time with each other despite the change in plans, and being positive about the parts of the ride that we did complete.

In the home stretch!

DR

Day 68: Redding to Orland

First United Methodist Church provided a delicious breakfast of French toast, eggs, and peaches. I am always amazed when people voluntarily get up early enough to feed us. Peggy was so fun and supportive that it was hard to leave this morning. However, we did eventually hit the road.

Today’s ride dedication was requested by Danah Kirsh, a girl in Catherine Schmidt’s sorority. Dana’s aunt, Jackie Riskin, dealt with brain tumors for 18 years, had 3 surgeries, and passed away in April of 2013. She had the biggest heart in the world for all animals. She took in stray cats and made them a beautiful home. She was kind and very dedicated to her work and also had a great appreciation for nature. She searched for her inner peace and freedom in spite of her brain limitations due to her cancer, and she died peacefully in her sleep.

Today was another hot one, but the road conditions were the most difficult part of today. The shoulder and most of the road were very torn up and crazy bumpy. We also encountered 2 miles of gravel. Our hands and shoulders were very thankful to be done when we got to First Lutheran Church in Orland.

We were again provided a delicious dinner and got to shower, which we are always excited about.

We are also having an end of the ride recap meeting tonight. It’s an opportunity to discuss what can be improved about the organization, what we liked, and an overall wrap up of the summer. It’s unbelievable to us all that the time has come to be wrapping things up. I think a lot of us are getting mentally and physically tired, but it’s hard to imagine not being with each other all the time in the future.

I’m thankful to be a part of an organization that hopes to only improve in the future as well as one that allows for such strong bonds to be made. We’re awfully lucky!

DR

 

Day 67: Mount Shasta to Redding

Today was HOT! It was 102 degrees when we finished our ride. Thankfully, we have since cooled down and are comfortably enjoying the air conditioning.

We dedicated our ride to two people. Steven asked to have the ride dedicated to his aunt’s brother, Marino, who passed away from pancreatic cancer, as well as his aunt’s sister Diane who passed away from gall bladder cancer. Both of his aunts have been huge supporters of I4K!

We are all feeling good about finishing today. It was challenging for many reasons. The heat always makes the ride feel more difficult and challenges us mentally. On top of that, the road we rode on today went over and through mountains, had some construction, and the shoulder was covered in debris. We had to be very mentally and physically sharp in order to keep our teammates and ourselves safe. There were many, many flat tires today, which not only slows us down but also wears on our optimism. I am proud to say that we all encouraged each other and did what we needed to do to make it to Redding. An ice cream stop at McDonald’s helped!

The positive thing about today’s ride was the scenery. We rode through beautifully forested mountains and right over Lake Shasta. It was a gorgeous lake with bright blue water and a beautifully colored canyon.

The other, and most important, positive part about today was the generosity we received. We are staying at the First United Methodist Church in Redding. These people know how to throw a potluck! We had so much delicious food, talked to so many kind people, and received many donations. After dinner we had a Q & A session where they just asked us about what we do, what our favorite parts of the trip have been, what our daily routine is like, etc. Their interest and patience through this was amazing! It is always so nice when people are so genuinely interested not only in our cause, but also in us as individuals. We all had great dinner conversations with the people around us.

People like those we met tonight remind us of all of the good people we have met along the way. We continue to be thankful for the amazing acts of generosity we see.

DR