Day 68/69: Crater Lake

We made it to Crater Lake! After climbing about 4,000 feet we saw the deepest lake in the US. It was the bluest and most pristine body of water I have ever seen. This particular National Park might have been my favorite just because it was not overcrowded with tourists like the other parks we visited on this trip. It was nice because during our multi hour rest stop at the top we were pretty much the only ones around, and the only activity taking place on the water was a singular boat riding to the island in the middle of the lake (that is actually another volcano forming).

After our extended rest stop we had to be shuttled to the top of the mountain because the roads and construction made for a dangerous combination for bikers. At the lodge at the top we ran into some PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) hikers looking like they had been through a long journey. (Next adventure?) As we rode down 1000 feet to our campsite the noticeable chill at the top of the mountain got warmer and we were able to take off our jackets.

This morning we rolled out pretty much on time (7:30) and made it to Klamath Falls at around 1:00. We will be staying in the Yeti’s Lair, the famous i4k rock climbing gym stayover. Mike the owner had been hosting the team for a few years and was nice enough to wip up some burgers and allow us a running tab at Dutch Brothers coffee shop. After dinner Mike belay certified myself, Nick Nodus, and Mack and we belayed and rock climbed the rest of the night.

Anyone wanna be belayed?



Day 67: Ahh My Leg!!

Today was a doozy. Another near-century (we’re gonna call 96 miles a century at this point) with 5,000 feet of climbing. The elevation map looked like a right triangle. It was mostly a gradual climb but at 60 miles BAM it started to get extremely steep. At one point there were 7 people sagging in uncle Rico (the van). Although our expected time of arrival at the stayover was 8PM we got in at about 6:00.

Crescent is a town of about 300 people and it is so small that the people at the grocery store knew our stayover contact Gil from us just mentioning his first name to him.  After some last minute changes, we ended up staying at an old haunted out of use restaurant for the night. Complete with a bowling alley, a bar, a banquet hall, and a full kitchen straight out of the 1970’s, this place could pretty much be the set of the Shining. The strange thing about this place was that it seemed like it had been the local hangout one night and abandoned the next day. There were bowling balls and shoes still in the bowling alley and cups still in the bar. We couldn’t resist the haunted charm and ended up playing a game of hide and seek.

We had a surprise today, Jessica returned. After flying all the way to Eugene and then taking a two-hour cab, she showed up at our stayover and surprised us all. After about 15 minutes of just going around and hugging everyone, she was finally able to get settled in for the night.

Tomorrow we have loads of climbing into Crater Lake and we will not have service while camping at the top. It is a famously hard I4k ride and I am quite scared for my knees. We expect it to get extremely cold at the top and tent groups are actually trying to recruit more people into their tent for added warmth.

What goes up must come down right?



Day 66: Blizzards for Days

Today Zach dedicated the ride today in honor of former ride leader, Catherine Kemp. Catherine’s friend Shae, passed away 5 years ago today from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Today was one of the best rides we have had in a while. There was a slight tailwind for the whole 75 miles, great sunny weather, nice views of vineyards with hills in the background, and the best van driver, Rebecca, who generously supplied us with apples at the first rest stop.

Since today is July 25 it is officially i4Christmas!…Except we had to postpone it. This is an annual tradition where riders gift each other things that they have found on the side of the road along with another more personalized gift that they spend a maximum of $5 on. Since this team just can’t seem to get our sh*t together on pretty much anything, we had to postpone it since none of us felt that we had enough notice to get good enough finds.

Since today is Phil’s birthday his dad kindly got Dairy Queen to donate the team blizzards. Some of us wiser riders took advantage of the any size fine print and balled out on a large.

We visited the University of Oregon campus where we had a donated pizza and cake dinner at their student union, organized by Zach’s sister.  After dinner we had time to explore campus and avid runner Arturo had the chance to do a lap on the campus’ famous track.  Although their union is much more modern than U of I campus, with much better restaurants, overall the campus was not as ‘green’ as I expected.

Now that we are this far along in the ride our relationship as teammates has evolved from being really good friends to practically siblings. We engage in playful arguments about just about everything from whether the peanut butter is better served with a spoon or knife or who gets to sit where when we shuttle a group of 26 of us in our 15 passenger van, to who gets the couch at the stayover (usually Kevin).

At this point in the ride we are entering single digits of days left, as of tomorrow. I had a conversation with Micheline today and I compare my feelings towards the trip ending to being similar to graduating. While it is very bittersweet to be leaving this amazing group of people and having fun filled days and laughs every day, the days are growing harder and my legs are starting to give out.

Not looking forward to 6,000 feet of climbing tomorrow.




Day 65: And on Mondays We Nap

We had somewhat of a rest day yesterday as we rode 15 miles from Troutdale to real Portland city limits. We stayed at, or rather outside in tents, another alumni’s house, Jill. After we rolled in at around 10:30 Jill was nice enough to offer to do the team’s laundry. Then most of us headed into the city for the day, hitting all the famous destinations such as Voodoo Doughnuts, Powell’s bookstore, and the Salt and Straw ice cream.

Today’s ride was only a little longer than yesterday’s at 49 miles, probably one of the last short days for us. It was nice to have all the donated goldfish and cookie snacks from Illinois alumni and i4k alumni who met up with us at Miranda’s house. We went back to seeing mostly rural farmland with the occasional view of hilly pines in the distance. By the time we arrived most of us were still very tired from the lack of sleep from yesterday so we took multi hour naps on the gym floor of the First Methodist Church where we are staying today.

Tomorrow we are heading to Eugene, home of the University of Oregon



Day 63: Portland, We Have Arrived…Kinda

Today Ben, an alumni and former ride leader from 2015, dedicated the ride to Colleen, a friend of his who has been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. Colleen has a one-year-old son and husband.

Today was a complete spectrum of both emotion and challenge. We started our ride in Hood River and rode 75 miles and 5,500 feet of climbing to a suburb of Portland, Troutdale, Oregon. We had a majority of the climbing in the first 30 miles of the ride and it was extremely hard. We pushed our limits and pulled up a gravel road for 5 miles uphill through tall trees and small waterfalls. At the top we had amazing views of Mount Hood, the snowcapped wonder that is visible from both Portland and Hood River. Once we reached the top we even passed a trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail.  After the torturous uphill climbing we had stunning views of endless pine trees and hills. It was amazing to ride downhill at 30 mph, smelling fresh pine, and seeing all the amazing views. The last 10 miles of the ride was also very challenging with much uphill climbing as we made our way to the stayover, Melinda’s house, an Illinois alumni who will be hosting us for this evening.

As we pulled up drenched in sweat and grumpy we were greeted by the Portland alumni association with cheers and signs and a backyard already stocked with appetizers. The mood completely changed as we pulled off our shoes and soaked our feet in the small kiddie pool and chatted over lemonade in the backyard chairs. The Portland Illinois alumni are a tight knit community, and there were even guests in attendance who had no direct ties to Illinois, but just came out to show their support. It was an intimate night as we chatted and ate quintessentially Portland all-organic grub. There was even a bike-powered smoothie machine that we had a blast with.  It was some of the best food that we have had, and very nice to have a home cooked meal after a streak of donated restaurant pizza and pasta and lentils. The next morning the breakfast was amazing again, but the coffee really was the star of the show. Thanks for the donation Starbucks!

We did a Portrait session with Molly, the bubbly and positive social worker fighting cancer. Even though she sat before us with a shaved head, she talked of being happy to be surrounded by her loved ones and reflecting on what is important in life.

It was a crazy day filled with literal ups and downs but overall it was an i4k day I will always remember.

Smiling from the inside.



Day 61/62: Wait are We in Washington or Oregon?

Neeca dedicated the ride today to her high school security guard. She found out recently that she died of pancreatic cancer.

Yesterday we rode 85 miles from Umatilla to Hook River State Park, and it was an extremely hard day filled with climbing and headwinds through a river gorge surrounded by yellow hills. It seemed that wind was characteristic of the area since the door of a convenience store we stopped in said “pull close if extremely windy”. To break up the long day we had 4 rest stops since the headwinds were so hard. Also groups split up leading into 3 mile interval pulls. Everyone was glad to be done with the day once we got back to the campsite at a staggering 8 PM. By the end of the day, fellow van driver Rebecca and I had spent 14 hours in the car after a brief stint waiting for some riders cuts to be bandaged in a local clinic.  However, the stars yesterday night were the brightest that we have seen on the trip and Nick Nodus and Analisa and I even saw a shooting star as we lay out before we went to sleep.

Today was infinitely better with only 55 miles, barely any headwinds and perfect crisp breeze. Since we were all so exhausted from yesterday’s ride, we took over a McDonalds for lunch, obviously using the McDonald’s app to get the best deals (major i4k key). We rode into Hood River Oregon, and it is absolutely beautiful. For me, it is one of my favorite cities we have visited. With views of snow capped Hood Mountain, a river dotted with wind surfers, hilltop lookout points, and tons of bikers and breweries (for the 21+ crew) we all are impressed with Hood River so far.

Making a decision on which state is the best is going to be very tricky in the end.

We all can’t wait for Portland tomorrow