Day 29: Centuries Getting Better

Julissa stepped up today to take the ride dedication for a portrait we did recently. Sargent Dewyane Schweinler died of lung cancer in 2002 and we interviewed his daughter who expressed her struggle in dealing with his passing.

As a special Father’s day surprise for our resident dads (Tyler and Zach and even Logan) we organized a special effort to ramble the troops and roll out extra early this morning. Tyler was so pleased at the 7:08 line up that he “nearly fainted”. As a special Dad’s day touch Madeline made the Mosher for the dads to talk about their favorite memory being the team dad.

This century felt so much different than the last. With slightly cooler weather and not too much elevation change there were exactly ZERO accidents and we arrived in Minneapolis at about 6:00. As we have come to realize about the land outside of major cities, most of today’s views were farmlands or what David referred to as “the wild”. When we arrived at the stayover, Hennepin Methodist Church we were all in awe. This is hands down the nicest church we ever stayed at complete with couches (beds) and showers. To top it off Christina Su organized a donated pizza dinner for the whole team.

Even the brief views I was surprised that Minneapolis was such a nice city and also very biker friendly.  Most of the team is looking forward to having the day off tomorrow to explore the city of fix up their bikes.

MB

 

Day 27/28: MIN-EH-SOTA

MY B. I feel like I personally let people down when I miss a day of posting so I apologize for that.

Alert Guinness Records, we actually made a 7:15 roll out time yesterday. Proud dads Tyler and Zach beamed as our group circled up to start the day.

Yesterday’s ride was “the most casual 80 miles ever” as Dylan put it. We crossed the state line into Minnesota and spent our rest day in Rochester. Pretty small city. Weirdly strict rules on apparel in dive bars. ANYWAYS riding into this state was really beautiful and all the rolling hills looked incredibly nice. We only had two large hills of climbing but my group talked the whole way through it (who would have thought debating which states are part of the Midwest could be a conversation that could distract you from a 20 minute uphill climb).  Hotshot phone caller Julissa finessed us all free Chipotle yesterday AND pizza so we all loaded up.

Being the home of the famous Mayo Clinic, which specializes in cancer services, we visited another Hope Lodge. We learned that due to its proximity to the Mayo clinic, it is always at max capacity of about 60 people and their caretakers. We got to meet with a brain tumor support group. Robin, our tour guide described the Hope Lodge as “a bubble of good. Our saying here is that if we can spread the good that comes out of this place to the rest of the outside, the world would be an amazing place”.  Robin also told us that she had amazingly, “not met one grumpy patient”. Things like this highlight the insane resilience of people experiencing cancer.

As the team gathered in the kitchen area, a woman who overheard us giving out elevator spheel came up to us in tears and thanked us for what we are doing. It is moments like these that capture the effect our team really has, and it makes all the long days’ worth it.

From speaking with people in the support group, Robin, and even a waitress at a restaurant we visited for breakfast, it is easy to see the warm vibe that Minnesotans give off and it seems to be a very welcoming place. Bob, one of the gentlemen of the support group even said he had left Georgia for Minnesota because the people in Minnesota are better.

After that, a few of us got to sit in on a Portrait with Bob. Bob described Minnesota weather as “winter, winter ending, construction, and almost winter” He said that when his doctors found a tumor on his brain 9 years ago, he used his sense of humor as a way to cope. He told us that he had even named his tumor Fred, and when he learned that cells in the tumor were dead, he organized a “Fred is dead” chant a la Wizard of Oz in the chemo center. Bob was truly an amazing person and I felt so lucky to have the chance to sit in on during the portrait and hear his story.

After the Hope Lodge, many us of spent the day eating out or catching up on some sleep in Zumbro Lutheran Church where we are staying. Tomorrow holds our second century ride to Minneapolis with the promise of another rest day!

Eh *Minnesota accent*

MB

 

Day 26: Don’t Wanna Leave Wisconsin

We dedicated today’s ride to Michaeline’s teacher who passed away from pancreatic cancer this past November.

I must say, so far Wisconsin has consistently been best state that we have ridden through. Even though most of what we rode past today was farmland, something about elevation change just makes the backdrop that much more beautiful, and it was nice to see the green pastures with cows grazing. I did not know how bike friendly this state was. Pretty much all of today’s 81 miles were spent on a bike path that led us through several caves, a cute roadside ice cream stop, and even the “bike capital of the US” in Sparta Wisconsin.

Yet another over-the-top church member let us swim in their pool and Jacuzzi this evening, motivating us the move as quickly as possible during the day.  La Crosse surprised me. With the college campus nestled next to the church we are spending the night tonight, a nice looking downtown, and views of the Mississippi river running between here and the town on the other side of the river, which happens to be Minnesota. Tomorrow holds the promise of another rest day and another state line to cross.

But I didn’t even get cheese curds :(

MB

 

Day 25: Dippin in at Devil’s Lake

Day 25: Logan had the ride dedication today in honor of his teacher’s father who passed away from pancreatic cancer.

It was a bit tricky leaving Madison this morning because of all of the trails. Our day in the heart of UW Madison campus yesterday might have been the one of the best so far. As of late the team has been taking more time to enjoy small moments in the places we visit, and we decided that it would be a good idea to jump in the lake in t shirts and shorts after the long and hot ride. We also watched the sunset on the terrace to cap off the night. Their Union gives the one at U of I a run for its money. @UofI alcohol at the Union=$$$$

Today was somewhat of a challenging day, but it completely changed when we spent our lunch rest stop at Devil’s Lake State Park. By the time we stopped most of us were soaked in sweat from the humidity and climbing, so we jumped in the lake (which was surprisingly warm) to cool off. Since most of us come from Illinois, seeing the cliffs in the backdrop of the lake prompted us all to take pictures. It seems the further west we head the most beautiful the sights we begin to see.

Although the weather channel told us that we would experience rain later in the day most of us doubted it. Unfortunately, we were caught in a sudden thunderstorm in the last 20 miles of the ride. For shelter my group went to a veterinary office awning and waited out the rain. To pass the time we played charades and made up raps until we got the go signal from Tyler.

And of course rule #1 was not broken today as we noticed our church home for the night just HAPPENED to be on the top of one of the only hills in the town (apparently). To celebrate this tradition my team chanted “rule number one, rule number one, as we pedaled to the top”.

Special thanks to Julissa, Jessica and Rebecca for finding the team food for tonight! We were lucky enough to pick up some taco’s and pizzas from some local places in Reedsville.

Wisco you have been treatin’ us well so far.

MB

Day 24: I LOVE WISCONSIN

Zach had the ride dedication today for his friend Max who passed away as a result of cancer.

Today’s ride: 71 miles, hot but not too hot, lots of cornfields and slight hills.

Logan Orr is one of our graduated senior riders. His degree is Bioengineering and he is one of the resident team Dads. His spirit animal has been chosen by the team as the Golden Retriever.

Describe your home town: So I’m from Reddick IL. It’s outside of Reddick actually. On a good day it has 200 people in it. It’s a small farm town. I went to high school in another farm town in the area. Reddick has a bar, a post office, and a school that is closed down now…and a couple churches.

What are you going to be doing after this trip? I will be working at Eli Lilly Company in Indianapolis. I’ll start there a couple weeks after the ride.

Your older sister did this trip. How did your prior expectations compare to the reality? I knew it would be a lot of fun from hearing stories from my sister and that I would see a lot of things that I wouldn’t normally. But I underestimated the friendships that I would make. I really enjoy our team and getting to know everyone on it. I also underestimated the kindness of random strangers. I knew that the people at the stayovers would be super nice, but I didn’t expect receiving a bunch of random stuff from strangers. And how many people that thank us when they are the ones that are hosting us. It has really surprised me and it makes the trip really rewarding.

Have you noticed any changes in yourself since we started? My legs have gotten stronger and I’ve gotten to gain a new perspective on a lot of things. Our team is full of people from different backgrounds and walks of life. I’ve gotten to hear what they think of things and what they call things, and how they don’t know a lot of farming terminology (laughs). Gaining perspective on how I myself have changed and gaining more of an appreciation for people.

What have you enjoyed most so far? I have enjoyed getting to know the team. I feel like we have a lot of cool people who are all really different. I really liked meeting the mayor of Rochester with a police escort. Any time that there’s been a pool, we’ve all gone back to the days of being 12 and acting like little kids and that has been really nice to see.

Where has been your favorite spot we’ve stayed so far? I think my biased answer would be… Kankakee. Just because I got to see my family and old teachers and friends from home and my family took me out for ice cream after. Showers, really good food, and family were the best.

What are you still looking forward to? I’m really looking forward to being out west. My sister said her favorite state was South Dakota because of being able to ride through the Badlands. I’m also stoked for the National parks we’re going through like Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. I’m really excited for Portland because my brother lives in Seattle and he’s coming to see us ride through there.

What do you do while riding? I talk a lot, probably too much. Sing, play hot seat, I try to look up as much as I can. Every once in a while we’ll pass through parts of small towns that are really pretty and I know I’ll probably never go to the same places again. I want to see as much as I can.

Do you see yourself continuing cycling after the ride? I see myself riding around Indianapolis just for fun because they have a lot of trails. Possibly biking to work. I don’t see myself doing any races or another cross country trip anytime soon (haha).

Describe I4k in one word: impactful

Don’t want to leave Madison with its prime stayover location and beautiful Terrace views.

Will accept Spotted Cow donations.

MB

 

Day 23: So This Is “Real” I4k?

Day 23:

Special shoutout to Mackenzie’s uncle for providing us with the desserts from Pie Five and Alia’s family friend for the cookies! We loved them!

I must apologize to those loyal daily readers out there for my slacking on blogging these past few days. I hope today’s post can make it up to you.

We dedicated today’s ride to Phil’s grandpa John who passed away from cancer before Phil was born.

*Speaking of Phil’s birth, fun fact: he was born in his driveway (in an ambulance).

Somewhat of a rude awakening today after a day and a half of a rest in Chicago and a combination of the longer mileage and extreme heat. During our time off we enjoyed spending down time with family and friends, and those who do not hail from Illinois got to explore the city and do “touristy” Chicago things.

With the hottest ride day yet from downtown Chicago to Lake Geneva Wisconsin many of us were wiped out by the time we arrived at our lake house stayover.  We have a team saying that “rule #1 is that every stayover must be located at the top of a hill”. However, since today’s spot did not follow this rule we rationalized that if it isn’t at the top of a hill, then it’s also not at the bottom…

Special shout out to my dad Paul and Steve Bailey for making it through the 80-mile day, you both exceeded my expectations. The tough day was broken up by the awesome rest stops we enjoyed. First stop was my alma mater of Loyola Academy in Wilmette where we were provided with refreshments, and then we cruised through to Mundelein where Phil’s family hosted us for lunch.  (The hose sprinkler was MUCH appreciated). After the awesome food at Alison’s in Frankfort two days ago, then being able to have access to our pantries at home, and today’s lunch, it will be hard to have to go back to PBJ.

Each day while on the road us riders find ourselves explaining the point of the ride, and then talking about the logistics of the trip, and what it took to prepare for a journey like this. Most of the time people seem shocked and respond something along the lines of “Oh I could never do something like that”.  Even though many of us were nowhere near the fitness level we are currently at, before joining the team none of us told ourselves that this insane mileage was something that we could not accomplish. And even though many of us never even got on our bikes for the first time until April, I don’t think any one of us ever doubted that we would be able to reach San Francisco.

I have been asked a few times if people ever quit and go home midway through the ride. I don’t think any of us ever even considered this as an option. For us, completing the ride each day is all about breaking it down. Making it to through the first 20 miles, playing games and chatting to get us to the rest stop, playing music or making up raps while looking forward to being able to get to lunch and chow down on some sandwiches, and finally cruising through the last 15 (because the I4k rule is last 5 miles don’t count).  Even though riding an average of 70 miles a day seems like a huge feat, for some reason each day is actually fun, and this crazy lifestyle is something we are all dreading being over.

While on the ride today, Steve expressed to me that he didn’t think he would be able to finish today, and surprised himself at being able to get as far as he did.  From our conversation it was clear the strategic rest stops made everything possible. Once you make a daunting 87-mile day just a series of three ride segments of 20-25 mile intervals, it doesn’t seem so scary anymore. After witnessing the progress this team has made and will continue to make, I am now a believer that anyone can reach a goal with a clear vision of what the ‘finish line is’ and the will to push through to get there. It is all about just breaking that seemingly far-fetched goal down into smaller steps.  I really hope that people reading this understand that none of us are superhuman or possess anything close to superhuman qualities, but rather we are just a determined group of college students that share an affirmative mindset.

Heat is still > Rain

Madison or bust.

MB