Day 24: Helllloooo Wisconsin

Today the team rode 95 miles from Chicago, Illinois to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The day started off a little hectic but it was fun to start in the heart of the city! At Millenium Park, the team took the opportunity to take photos since we weren’t able to the other day. We ended up rolling out a little later than expected but it was really cool to ride up along the lakefront. A thick fog and a light mist made it difficult to see at times but we made it through the busy city and onto smooth trails. It was really strange to ride through some of our hometowns on the way to Lake Geneva. We did enjoy the familiarities along the way as it made the sometimes confusing cues easier. We know this is the last bit of familiarity we will get. We all really enjoyed the trail rides too, which gave us the ability to talk and not have to worry about cars.

I would like to thank Lake Geneva Youth Camp for hosting our team today and providing us with good food and beds! It really feels like summer camp because we are all sleeping in bunk beds tonight.

The ride dedication today was for Aaron’s mom who had breast cancer. He wanted to dedicate it to her when we rolled into Chicago because it was her birthday but the weather didn’t allow this to happen so he made up for it today!

After a long day of riding, the team is excited to rest up and take on Madison, WI tomorrow.
~Tailwinds~
Mandy

Flat count: 1
Song of the day: Toes – Zac Brown Band
Memorable moment: Finding a delicious ice cream stand to stop at just outside Lake Geneva. With only 20 miles left this was exactly what we needed as a pick me up!

Day 22: Sweet Home Chicago

Today the team sadly rode 0 miles due to inclement weather. With thunderstorms in our paths again, we unfortunately had to call off our ride into Millenium Park and the picnic to follow. This was a sad change of events for the team but fear not we will still be taking advantage of picture opportunities on Monday at the bean.
I would like to thank Matthew’s parents for allowing the team to stick around this morning as we sorted out plans and had our parents pick us up from Elmhurst.
Although the day didn’t go as planned we were still able to be greeted by friends and family. We are looking forward to a few days of rest before we hit the state known for cheese!
~Tailwinds~
Mandy

Flat count: 0
Song of day: Sweet Home Chicago
Memorable moment: Sadly today was Justin’s last day before he begins working in “the real world”. We will all miss him. His quirkiness and positivity was a great asset to the team!

Day 21: Thunder and Lightning stopped us from biking

Today the team was suppose to ride 70 miles from Bourbonnais to Elmhurst, Illinois. However, we only made it a short 8 miles before we saw several strikes of lightning. Upon protocol we pulled over and found the nearest shelter which happened to be a metal pavilion and a metal playground. Seemed to be the best option hehe. We all played on the playground for the standard wait time of 30 minutes, however the lightning was not stopping. The ride leaders made the executive decision to shuttle everyone to Kathy’s house for the time being to wait out the lightning. By the time all the people and bikes were shuttled,a few hours passed. The team occupied the time by watching National Treasure (shout out to Nick Cage). Also a big thanks to Kathy’s Mom for graciously taking us in with very little notice and providing us with food and letting us eat every ounce of food she already had in her house!! Once the weather cleared up we were then good to ride again. We rode from Homer Glen to Elmhurst with no formal cues.It ended up being a long 20ish miles with several reroutes but we made it! In total we ended up riding a solid 30ish miles today. We ended the day by attending a local Relay for lIfe. We talked about Illini 4000, dancing in a flash mob and played lots of games. A nice end to the day!

The ride dedication today was for Sam’s aunt, Carolyn Rakowicz, who passed away one year ago from cancer. Tonight we are staying at Matt’s house. His parents are awesome enough to let the whole team crash at their house! Tomorrow we will roll into sweet home Chicago. I’ve got to say I’m so excited to be home and see my family :)
~Tailwinds~
Mandy

Flat count: 0
Song of the day: Thunder -Imagine Dragons
Memorable moment: Making good use of time while waiting for the lightning to pass by making a music video (will appear on facebook)!!!

Day 20: Bourbonnais for days

Everyone spent day 19 getting some much needed rest and relax time with family and friends in Champaign. Some of us were lucky enough to have family or friends ride along with us today for the first 20 miles to get a taste of I4K. The team then rode almost 88 miles (originally supposed to be 83) due to construction and rerouting..It was a relatively short day nonetheless. Other than the obstacle of the heat most groups found today to be an easy day. It was a hot one though, with very little breeze (which we all were happy about because headwinds are NOT THE MOVE!!) Some of us suffered from feeling dehydrated or sluggish today because it was one of those days where no amount of water kept you feeling hydrated for long! We all made it through and rolled into the stayover in good time. Seems that the rest day paid off after all!

Today the ride was dedicated to chancellor Jones’ mother who passed away from cancer. We were unable to dedicate the ride to her earlier as he just revealed the other day that Day 18 would have been her birthday. I would also like to thank our amazing stayover in Bourbonnais, Adventure Christian Church for hosting us! This has been one of the coolest stayovers, with arcade games and an indoor soccer field.I would like to also thank Jim Moore from the University of Illinois foundation for giving us goodie bags packed with electrolytes and protein bars. This was exactly what was needed on a day like today!

~Tailwinds~
Mandy

Flat count: 0
Song of the day: It’s getting hot in here
Memorable moment: Stopping at a rootbeer place that was bomb.com in Bourbonnais. It was just the pick me up we needed to finish the day

Day 18: Home away from Home

Today the team rode 77.8 miles from Rockville, Indiana to Champaign, Illinois. The day started out great with a wonderful pancake breakfast from Randy and Aunt Martha (our hosts). We then set out on the country roads that would take us home. Approximately 10 miles in we crossed the state line to Illinois and I felt a rush that we were finally home. We had completed our first major milestone, we made it from New York to Illinois!! The ride today was a bit difficult with 16 mph winds alternating between headwinds and crosswinds. Everyone was avidly watching their bike computers the majority of the ride because we all wanted to reach our destination. Each mile felt long with the rushing wind, but the thought of being in our home away from home was an excellent motivation to push through.

Today we had the privilege of riding with three prestigious guests: chancellor Robert Jones, vice chancellor of advancement Barry Benson, and president of University of Illinois foundation Jim Moore. The chancellor even deemed himself a new nickname (sir chancelot). These three were a blast to ride with and Barry and Jim definitely proved they could keep up with the team! The chancellor having only done 20 mile rides prior to today realized that 77 miles was a bit of stretch, but he was still able to complete 50 miles! He and the group he rode with today even bonded over the team’s love of Waffle House. Needless to say the Chancellor is a cool dude!

Once we arrived in Urbana, we were escorted by two police bikes and a police car the 3 miles to Beckman Institute. We all felt like celebrities riding through campus with cars stopping to take our picture. Upon arriving to Beckman we saw a large crowd filled with parents, faculty, friends, other Illini 4000 alum, and many more all cheering for us. It was a surreal experience and a little emotional to return back to where it all started and to realize that we had just biked the 1000+ miles home. The support, and love felt upon arriving at Beckman puts into perspective how important our cause is!

At the ceremony inside Beckman we met David Krantz who represented the Cancer Center at University of Illinois. He graciously spoke about Illini 4000 and the positive impact it brings to ending cancer. He also shared his own experience watching his family pass from cancer and explained that he wanted to make a contribution to our organization. On behalf of David Krantz and his wife 10,000 dollars was donated to Illini 4000. This generous gift made the team extremely emotional. With this large donation we now have the ability to make a greater impact on the cancer groups we donate to. We cannot thank the Krantz family enough for their generosity. The mayors of Champaign and Urbana also dubbed June 5th Illini 4000 day!!!

Overall a very emotional and proud day for the team. Days like today make the hard journey worth it.
~ Tailwinds~
Mandy

Flat count: 0
Song of the day: I’m coming home
Memorable moment: Barry Benson falling off his bike and Rachel getting photo evidence of it :)

Day 17 : Rockville really ROCKS!!

Today the team road 66 miles from Indianapolis to Rockville, Indiana. It was a less windy day as apposed to yesterday but the ride was not as conversational as hoped. Instead of the backroads that we have primarily been riding on, we were on a fairly busy roads with many semi trucks (honk, honk). The weather was beautiful and sunny as well which made for a pleasant day for riding!

Today our ride was dedicated to Matt’s grandfather who passed away from brain cancer. I would like to thank Randy from the First United Methodist church for hosting our team for the 11th year! They have been the warmest welcome yet! We gota delicious meal provided by the sweetest women from the church. We even got to meet Dorothy, the singing and dancing 90 year old who is famous from past teams! Our team even got to go swimming, which was a refreshing change from biking and helped to work out our sore muscles! The hosts went above and beyond to make our free time amazing and we are so thankful! Also a special shoutout to Rebecca (2017 rider) for driving the van for us today and tomorrow and for providing delicious snacks!

Tomorrow we arrive in Champaign and I know it will be surreal riding back through campus!

~Tailwinds~
Mandy

Flat count: 1
Song of the day: just keep swimming -Dori
Memorable moment: Having a blast at the pool! Relaxing, playing basketball and chicken fights made for a fun time