Day 47: Cowboys and Wild Horses

Today was an amazingly scenic ride. We saw mountains in the distance and red rock canyons. We even spotted a herd of wild horses running on the side of a hill.

Mack dedicated the ride today to his neighbor’s son, Patrick Alexander. He passed away a few years ago from cancer of the bile duct.

Introducinggggg Mackenzie Bach! Mack is our resident fraternity star of the team and he always seems to be in a good mood. His signature phrase is “wow, what a good day”. Catch him speeding down

Biggest weakness: beautiful women

What is your hometown like: Mount Prospect. It was once ranked the best neighborhood to raise your kids in back in 2005. Very cozy hood. Lot of old style houses and it fits into the Chicago suburban scene.

What day of riding has been your favorite: My favorite day was June 26th going into Kadoka South Dakota, because that was my mom’s birthday for one and it was also gorgeous day. It was the first day where we didn’t see any suburbs or cornfields anymore. We passed through huge rolling hills and had lots of tailwinds. We averaged 18mph for all 96 miles, it was as quick day for such long mileage. This day was when I finally realized that this is i4k. Beforehand we were still talking to cancer patients and traveling the country, but that day where we saw so much beautiful land and scenery and I realized how broad of a scope I was reaching.

Favorite part of a typical day: Dinner. We’re always starving, but dinnertime brings everyone together. Makes us feel like a family.

Least favorite part: The first rest stop just because I know we still have so much mileage to cover… and that I have to put sunscreen on.

What has been a lesson you’ve learned from this ride: I’ve learned that there is so much more out there that I have yet to see. The generosity and authenticity of people has really amazed me. And everything that nature holds, it made me realize that I just barely scratched the surface. From my years growing up in Virginia and Illinois I thought I knew it all, but truth be told I’ve only just begun.

What do you do to past the time while riding: I like talking to people and playing the questions game. It allows you to get to know your teammates better and show who they really are…in a good way.

What are you still looking forward to? Crater Lake and camping. Our camping days have been pretty cool because we were actually roughing it for the first time. With only a backpack when we go outdoors, that’s when you really feel like you’re actually doing it.

How do you think i4k will impact your college experience? I think it will teach me not to judge anyone because there are plenty of people on the ride that are here for the right reasons. Also the generosity of people; from giving us water to doing our laundry for us, it reminds me that there is still goodness in the world.

What’s an ideal ride for you? For me it would be riding through a mountain on the horizon with pine trees everywhere and the wind blowing in my hair.

Describe i4k in one word: astonishing

 

 

Day 46: A Hot Boy

To cap off the fourth of July last night some of us watched fireworks blasted off the top of a tall canyon yesterday. While out to get ice cream for the second time that day we heard that the fire department was watching the festivities closely, and we watched them put out a small fire on top of the canyon.

Today was another hot boy (I4k speak 101:we use ‘boy’ to refer to nouns)with temperatures around 96 degrees by lunch without shade. Luckily we only had 55 miles from Thermopolis to Riverton. For Wyoming, Riverton is a pretty decently sized town of 10,000 people. The views today were canyons and deserty hills. Since it was such a short day most of us took a long nap once we got to the church or showered at the high school.

Mountains are again visible in the distance and after tomorrow we will be able to enjoy yet another rest day. However this time it will be in the Grand Tetons! We are all excited to be able to camp again.

For some reason I am missing colder weather

MB

Day 44/45: Wyoming is LIT

Sorry I could not check in yesterday folks, we had our first day of i4kamping in Meadowlark Wyoming. We had more than 7,000 feet of climbing in only 43 miles as we ascended a mountain in Big Horns National Forest.  As we reached the top we got pretty close to snow. We happened to run into the 4k for Cancer New York running group at a rest stop. It just so happens that their group is running from San Francisco to New York in a relay setup with distances between 6-16 miles. Since they are a national group with multiple teams their organization raises around $800,000. It was such a crazy coincidence as we saw their support vehicle pull up right next to ours on the mountain and their team excitedly ran up to us. We exchanged the logistics of our organization and it turns out, we have the same goal of cancer fundraising and setup of staying in churches and such. They gave us the hot tip to ask grocery stores for donations if we are low on food. It was such a weird coincidence and it felt like we had just met ourselves in a parallel universe.

Rolling into Meadowlark Lake was the most beautiful scene we have witnessed so far. Pretty blue flowers dotted the sides of the grassy hills that surrounded our campsites and there was a fresh pine smell in the air. After the insane amount of climbing we settled into our campsite which was overlooking a ski resort lake. We broke up into groups of 4 for our first night in the tents. For dinner we roasted our own hot dogs and made s’mores. It was chilly when we woke up but as soon as we sped down the 15 miles of downhill in only 30 minutes, it was already hot and we shed our multiple layers. After the downhill section the mountainous forest scenery was traded for hilly desert and it was a hot one! As per our usual tradition we stopped at the local ice cream joint on our way into town. Some of us took the opportunity to use the shower facilities in the hot springs park and spent some time in the stinky but refreshing natural spring water. To celebrate the 4th tonight we plan to watch fireworks outside of the church.

In the next few days we have the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. We are all psyched!

Wyoming is the best state so far.

MB

 

Day 43: Buffalo Wyoming

Mason dedicated the ride to his grandfather David Christianson. David has B cell prolymphocytic leukemia/lymphoma and has had a rough time this past week.

What a great day. Even though we were on the interstate for the full 70 miles today it was not as dreadful as we expected. Luckily the shoulder on the road achieved a coveted 9 (out of 10) rating from veteran rider Kevin, so we got to form double pace lines and talk the entire way. As we rode we were able to see real snowcapped mountains in the distance and we appropriately stopped for snow cones as we rolled into town.

The vibe here is very country western and there were many cowboy statues dotting the sides of the road on the way into the main part of town. It seems to be quite touristy here and there are many hotels and gift shops on the main street. Buffalo is absolutely beautiful and us 21 year olds are excited to experience the town later this evening at the local saloon.

Today we passed the smallest town so far of population: 25. So when our current 24 members of the team rode through we essentially double the population. At a gas station rest stop a kind solo police officer offered to give us an escort out of town so that was pretty cool.

Our shower facilities happened to be at the “world’s largest pool” (fake news) and the warm community members of St. Lukes provided us with some bomb sloppy joes and other food.

After dinner Cheryl, a two time breast cancer survivor gave us a presentation about her version of Relay for Life. Since the first time she got cancer was 25 years ago she noted that the second time she went through treatment it was much more pleasant. Once she got cancer she felt like she could not accomplish the goals she planned to eventually attempt. With a career as a campaign manager for people such as the opponent to George Bush Sr. she then put her skills to use by running for state legislature.

Because of this, when she was working on the Wyoming State Health Legislature she changed the policies so that cancer treatment and screenings were better covered by insurance in the state of Wyoming.

Later on Cheryl noticed that the Buffalo Relay for Life was not attracting as many people as it could. To change this, she formulated the event after Dancing with the Stars. She invited well known community members to compete in a dancing competition to raise funds. In her two years the event raised $15,000 and then $18,000. And now the American Cancer Society uses her event as an example for other local Relays to model after.

Tomorrow will be the most climbing the shortest distance: 7,000 ft in only 43 miles. Pray for us please.

Tomorrow also marks our first day of camping in Meadowlark Wyoming.

Excited for s’mores tomorrow.

MB

 

Day 42:Post Climbing High

Today Mason dedicated the ride to Aubry. She had neuroblastoma at a very young age and was treated with chemo and radiation. Although she doesn’t remember the treatment, she remembers how tough it was. After this she had no further fights with cancer.

We arrived in Gillette Wyoming this afternoon and were greeted by some exceedingly friendly church members. One woman was even nice enough to take us to all the hotspots in town which included an active coal mine.

Meet Christina Su. The nicest person on our team of loving a**holes, as we like to call ourselves. She is a ray of sunshine and it is impossible not to smile around her.

Where are you from: Bloomington, IL. It’s a good town to grow up in and I really like the people there.

What first got you interested in I4k: My Uncle passed away my senior year and going into college I knew I wanted to do something in honor of him. I first heard about I4k at sights and sounds which is part of freshman orientation. I turned to my friend and said “wouldn’t that be crazy if I did that” and a month later I was signed up.

What were your feelings before we left for New York: It was a mix between excitement and nervousness. I was super excited thinking about all the things we were going to see. I didn’t know what to expect really.

How are you feeling about the ride now: I am loving it! I never want it to end.

How do you think you’ll feel once we reach San Francisco:  Not sure. I try to imagine it, sometimes, and when I think about it I get really sad because I’m having so much fun. It’s sad to think that once we get there we’ll all be going our different ways. There’s so much so see still and so many people to meet, so the ride still has a lot to offer from here to SF.

What do you do to get you through hard ride days: My teammates help me get through a lot by encouraging me or telling stories and asking each other questions.  Remembering who we ride for and why we ride keeps me going.  Almost everywhere we go we meet people who have been affected by cancer and talking to people along the way encourages me even more.

Do you see yourself doing anything after the ride that compares to this: NO (haha) it still is super cool for me and I still kind of can’t believe that were doing it. Day 32 it really hit me that we are actually biking across the whole country.

What has been your favorite place so far: Really hard, definitely the most special was Rochester New York because that’s where my parents first came, and the police escort and the mayor, and on top of that I cleaned my bike on my own for the first time (haha). All the little things made it really special. When we were visiting the Hope Lodge there and seeing the wigs that they donate to cancer patients meant a lot to me because I donated my hair. That day was one great thing after the next.

What is one moment you’ll never forget: Watching the sunset in Madison Wisconsin with the team. Everything about it was super pretty.

Describe i4k in one word: life-changing

LOVE YOU TINA SU

MB

Day 41: WyOmInG

Crossed another state line today! Although today was hyped up to be one of the hardest rides due to almost 7,000 feet of climbing and the 81 miles, most of us felt very good at the end of the day.  We had the opportunity to see Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, and Black Hills National Forest. It was such a beautiful day. Seeing the famous monuments up close was also super cool. It amazed me at the level of detail the sculptors used to create the eyes, hair, and clothing on the president faces, and all using only sticks of dynamite. Before today I was unfamiliar with Crazy Horse. Similar to Mount Rushmore, it is a carved mountain depiction of a famous Lakota chief, Crazy Horse, with an outstretched bow and arrow riding a horse, or at least it will be once it is finally finished. It is much larger than Mount Rushmore. With 80 years of being in the works it still remains unfinished, likely due to budget constraints because the builders refuse to take government money to fund the project. Unfortunately we decided that the $5 cover entrance to the park was out of our price range so we took pictures at the gate.

Out of the three things we got to experience today, the Black Hills were the most impressive to me. Although I have mentioned this before, today actually felt like the West we passed by real mountains and got to smell pine. And even though there was a lot of climbing, being able to zoom back down at 40 mph made it worth it. So far Wyoming has been really pretty and I hope it stays that way.

BRB buying a cowboy hat

MB