Day 4: Can’t stop the rain in Syracuse

Today the team powered through 74 miles in straight rain from Little Falls to Syracuse, New York. All aching from yesterday’s climbs the team was very happy to have an easier day of riding today. We also began an old I4K tradition, the mosher. The idea behind the mosher is for teammates to pass around an old ski pass that belonged to an Eric Mosher (this was found from a past team on the side of a road). The ski pass is then hidden and passed around from teammate to teammate until 7 pm. One way this was done today is by hiding it in a dorito bag and then offering a dorito to another teammate.Whoever has it at 7 then must think of an activity for the team do the following morning.

I would like to thank the people at St. Paul’s church in Syracuse for being amazing hosts and providing us with a feast. We are so lucky to build the relationships with such kind people who offer to host our team each year. We could not be more thankful for their generosity, and time they spent to make us so much food. Ryan and Alex also conducted a portrait with a women named Margaret who is a volunteer at the church. Margaret has battled cancer in the past and is currently battling it once again. Margaret has a passion for teaching and volunteered to do the portrait as a way go educate others about her experience.

Whether it was hills or rain the team has powered through some challenging days and we are all hoping for some sun and smooth miles as we make our way to Palmyra!

Flat count: 2
Song of the day: Living on a prayer
Memorable moment: A group rode past the rest stop and so they stopped at Burger King instead.Moral of the story it pays to take the path less traveled :)

Day 3: Brutally Beautiful Little Falls

Today the team rode 67 miles from Albany to Little Falls, New York. The day was hot with tons of hills and beautiful views. We rode through lush green valleys that made the 1 kilometer climbs well worth it. Today our elevation gain was 3,350 ft. Something that seemed so daunting, turned out to be rewarding as we stood at the top of the hills and looked down.Everyone on the team can agree that today was extremely tough but we all pushed through the grueling hills that from the bottom seemed impossible. Some of the team shed a few tears up the hills. Eric and Mike cried tears of joy thinking about the pb and J’s as motivation up the hills. We were all very relieved to learn that these hills will be the largest until Colorado!

We would like to thank the YMCA in Little Falls for hosting us tonight. We would also like to thank Sandra (I4K alum from 2007) for making us a delicious meal and driving an hour to deliver it to us, it was very appreciated!! The team can agree that the brownies and pasta were delicious :) It is so great to meet past riders and hear stories about their ride. They are truly the only people that understand how special the experience of being on Illini 4000 is.

With three days down this is starting to feel like a routine, I’m excited to see what the next 75 days have in store!

Flat count: 3
Song of the day: Breakeven ( still alive but we are barely breathing)- how we felt after each climb
Memorable story: Sam, Aaron, Caroline and I went to a random house in the middle of nowhere to use the bathroom. The women seemed extremely hesitant but eventually took pity on us (might have had something to do with how exhausted we looked) Conclusion: we all officially conquered any fears of stranger danger!

Day 2: We all made it to Albany

Today the team rode 87.9 miles from Beacon to Albany, New York. The day was long, hot and filled with more climbing! The views were absolutely incredible and made it all worth it! Lush green hills and cute little towns were passed along the way. There was one breathtaking view from the Van Wilder bridge. None of us expected to see so many mountains in upstate New York, and there are no words to express what it’s like to bike and see mountains all around you. It certainly isn’t the corn fields we are used to. I’m learning that this will be one of the best parts of the ride, the unexpected wonders in each state.

We would like to thank St. Andrews church for hosting in Beacon. We also were able to film our first portrait on the ride from a women that some teammates met at the church. We would also like to thank our hosts at the Bethlehem YMCA for being great hosts year after year and providing us with pizza! Some of the team even got to be on the news when the local news station came to the YMCA to interview us ( we are famous.. in Albany!) Also thanks to Liz (I4K alum) for being our incredible van driver the last two days and for being a joy to be around on our first few hard days, we will miss you!

We are all resting up for another day of climbing tomorrow, as we continue to push ourselves and conquer new heights!


Flat total: 2
Song of the day: Here comes the sun
Memorable moment: Hitarth found a postcard that says bald is beautiful (Hitarth is bald)

Day 1: High ho high ho off to Beacon we go

As many of you are aware the start to our adventure was more eventful than many of us anticipated. To fill you in our set train ride was changed to a bus ride to Toledo due to tree branches on the tracks. We needed to disassemble our bikes, all 23 of them to go into the van. From Toledo we hopped a train to New York City and after a short 18 hours we arrived. Shell-shocked by the bright lights and honking horns we knew we were not in Champaign anymore and we were within hours of the adventure that at one point seemed so far away!

I first would like to thank our host in NYC Bippin for being great and letting us crash his newly renovated house and for making us amazing food. We also were able to meet one of our beneficiaries in NYC, Damon Runyon! It was so interesting to meet the researchers and get a better idea of what Damon Runyon does and how our fundraising efforts are helping support cancer research. Also to Carly from B + who saw us depart from central park and shared an inspiring story of a family that Illini 4000 has directly helped. This was an inspiring way to start our ride and a great motivation for the day!

Fast-forward to today. We rode 63.2 miles from central park to Beacon, New York. Hills Hills and more Hills!!! The weather decided to continue to throw curve balls our way by raining the whole day. Riding today felt surreal after months of preparation we were finally able to say we are riding across the country. Riding around the city was extremely challenging as it was nothing like our prior training rides. Today Sam lost a wheel, and Helen got three flats in an hour! If every day is like today I have a feeling this summer will be full of adventure and one of the best experiences of my life!


Daily Flat count: 5
Song of the day: Ain’t no mountain high enough
Memorable moment: Maggie thinking every part of greenery in New York was central park

Day 75/76: SAN FRAN!!

Last two days of riding. Since I will not have access to a computer after tonight I thought I would do the final post all in one. Today’s ride was harder than expected and there were many uphill climbs and winding downhills, totaling 4,000 uphill and 3,500 downhill. We finally got out got out of the valley and had pleasant 70 degree weather today. We passed through part of Napa Valley on our ride and saw miles of vineyards. There was an ultimate rule number 1 uphill climb at the final stretch on Cherry road and every group decided to challenge themselves to the 18% grade uphill instead of the reroute…Although not everyone was able to make up all the way up (me).

This evening we took our final shuttle to showers at a local pool as a team and managed to fit 26 of us in Uncle Rico (the van).

Tomorrow is our last day of I4k and I expect it to be very emotional but exciting. We have built up the image of us crossing the Golden Gate bridge a lot and we have planned who we will be riding with on the last day for a while. It feels very surreal that we are finally accomplishing our ultimate goal and we will officially be able to call ourselves cross country cyclists.

This summer has been a whirlwind to say the least! It has been the most challenging yet rewarding period in my whole 22 years of life. Although these days have been extremely tough, it has taught me how to push myself, while at the same time knowing my limits and allowing myself to take a break when I need one. It has forced me to be patient while also giving me a lesson in group dynamics and learning how to put others before myself. It’s hard to put in words exactly how impactful this summer has been for me and I don’t think I will fully grasp its gravity until I am actually done with this trip but overall I can say that it was more fun than hardship and my 26 teammates are the reason for that, I encountered more good kind generous people than mean spirited drivers flipping us off, and this country is damn beautiful and we didn’t even scratch the surface.

To recap the summer, I thought I would a give a highlight reel in the form of some of our favorite inside jokes. Enjoy


  1. Mackenzie showing up to Champaign instead of Union Station
  2. Leaving Neeca at the DeBlasio campaign
  3. “Ehhhhh” (with tongue out) -Julissa
  4. “You’re sagging” – Dan
  5. “Is the van unlocked” “Where are the van keys”
  6. Every city is the Big Apple
  7. TBV- Total Bone Volume
  8. Is a hot dog a sandwich?
  9. David being extra

10.  Soy Boys

11.  Adding ‘boy’ to the end of as many words as possible

12.  Calling out cues while not riding

13.  Debating which utensil is the best for the PBJ

14.  Someone is always farting

15.  Roasting people always (mostly Arturo)

16.  “Mmmm”, “Ahhhmazing”, “Disasterrrr” – Kevin

17.  “It’s happening”!

18.  “Ah, my nickname in high school”

19.  “Pretty cool” – Tyler

20.  “Right?” – Zach

21.  Maryland is now Delaware 2

22.  Nodus not backing down from any challenge

23.  Somehow making everything a challenge

24.  Lil T storm

25.  Operation T storm

26.  Roasting the boys

27.  Analisa’s rendition of 6 foot 7 foot

28.  Communal showers

29.  Dan being vegan

30.  David saying “uhhhh” before anything

31.  “Dirtiest thing you would do for a Gatorade”

32.  “I gotta question for ya”- Dan and Kevin

33.  Boom Boom eating absolutely anything

34.  Mason having terrible taste in music

35.  Mason’s rollout song

36.  “Borked”

37.  Team rankings, the van driver is the supreme leader and the mechanic is the lowliest

38.  Hot Takes

39.  Analisa’s shirt is always unzipped

40.  The snoring tent

41.  The cuddle puddle

42.  The shaggy dog story

43.  “Uhhh mechanic, my bikes making a weird noise” *walk away

44.  Slow boy

45.  “I’m the fastest girl on the team” –Alia

46.  Dylan being the most attractive boy on the team

47.  Kevin’s bleached eyebrows

48.  “Pretty straightforward today”

49.  Tyler is being grumpy

50.  “Take your time” –Nick Su

51.  Lil T is Pierre Tont

52.  “What a great day” – Mack

53.  Neeca dropping the weapon

54.  Me winning the hunger games

55.  Chef Austin

56.  Quitting the team

57.  Spongebob references

58.  Tina Su thinking farting is hilarious

59.  Pixar movie rankings splitting the team

60.  Hating Rapid City

61.  Quarter mile condurum

62.  “Tunac Tunac”

63.  “Ride faster” – Tyler

64.  “My dad has a gun”

65.  David never being at the circle on time

Thanks for being awesome 2017. Even though we were last place when it came to timelieness, you’re all number 1 in my heart.

Thanks for keeping up with us all summer.

Stay golden San Francisco.



Day 74: Hotter Than…

Today I dedicated the ride to Matt Dsouza, a close mentee of my fathers who was his favorite caddy for a number of years. Matt graduated from U of I in 2013 and received his Master’s of Accounting in 2014. He was diagnosed with leukemia a while back and will be undergoing trial treatments at the University of Chicago.

Today was some of the most brutal heat we encountered. Even though we had another 4:45 wakeup, we could not avoid the blazing heat that reached over 100 degrees by 11 AM on the 86 mile day. During the last 20 miles stretch the ride leaders made the call that it was unsafe to ride uphill in the extreme heat and we shuttled groups the rest of the way. Since Lower Lakes underwent a fire in 2016 that burned the church, the place we are staying in in is a 40 by 60-foot facility with all of our bikes, backpacks, and van supplies. Not to mention all 27 of us are sharing a single bathroom. With no AC and all the bodies in one room it became very sweaty ordeal.

Although it had looked like we would never actually have it, at the last minute we decided that we would have prom! Everyone changed into their thrift store bought outfits and took prom pictures courtesy of Mason in front of a sheet. Nick Su, David, Mack, and Dan serenaded us with some choice karaoke songs, and we had a dance circle where Lil T showed off some moves. To close out the night we played Closing Time, and had a circle group up to cherish one of our last nights together.

The worst is officially behind us!