Day 68: Redding to Orland

First United Methodist Church provided a delicious breakfast of French toast, eggs, and peaches. I am always amazed when people voluntarily get up early enough to feed us. Peggy was so fun and supportive that it was hard to leave this morning. However, we did eventually hit the road.

Today’s ride dedication was requested by Danah Kirsh, a girl in Catherine Schmidt’s sorority. Dana’s aunt, Jackie Riskin, dealt with brain tumors for 18 years, had 3 surgeries, and passed away in April of 2013. She had the biggest heart in the world for all animals. She took in stray cats and made them a beautiful home. She was kind and very dedicated to her work and also had a great appreciation for nature. She searched for her inner peace and freedom in spite of her brain limitations due to her cancer, and she died peacefully in her sleep.

Today was another hot one, but the road conditions were the most difficult part of today. The shoulder and most of the road were very torn up and crazy bumpy. We also encountered 2 miles of gravel. Our hands and shoulders were very thankful to be done when we got to First Lutheran Church in Orland.

We were again provided a delicious dinner and got to shower, which we are always excited about.

We are also having an end of the ride recap meeting tonight. It’s an opportunity to discuss what can be improved about the organization, what we liked, and an overall wrap up of the summer. It’s unbelievable to us all that the time has come to be wrapping things up. I think a lot of us are getting mentally and physically tired, but it’s hard to imagine not being with each other all the time in the future.

I’m thankful to be a part of an organization that hopes to only improve in the future as well as one that allows for such strong bonds to be made. We’re awfully lucky!



Day 67: Mount Shasta to Redding

Today was HOT! It was 102 degrees when we finished our ride. Thankfully, we have since cooled down and are comfortably enjoying the air conditioning.

We dedicated our ride to two people. Steven asked to have the ride dedicated to his aunt’s brother, Marino, who passed away from pancreatic cancer, as well as his aunt’s sister Diane who passed away from gall bladder cancer. Both of his aunts have been huge supporters of I4K!

We are all feeling good about finishing today. It was challenging for many reasons. The heat always makes the ride feel more difficult and challenges us mentally. On top of that, the road we rode on today went over and through mountains, had some construction, and the shoulder was covered in debris. We had to be very mentally and physically sharp in order to keep our teammates and ourselves safe. There were many, many flat tires today, which not only slows us down but also wears on our optimism. I am proud to say that we all encouraged each other and did what we needed to do to make it to Redding. An ice cream stop at McDonald’s helped!

The positive thing about today’s ride was the scenery. We rode through beautifully forested mountains and right over Lake Shasta. It was a gorgeous lake with bright blue water and a beautifully colored canyon.

The other, and most important, positive part about today was the generosity we received. We are staying at the First United Methodist Church in Redding. These people know how to throw a potluck! We had so much delicious food, talked to so many kind people, and received many donations. After dinner we had a Q & A session where they just asked us about what we do, what our favorite parts of the trip have been, what our daily routine is like, etc. Their interest and patience through this was amazing! It is always so nice when people are so genuinely interested not only in our cause, but also in us as individuals. We all had great dinner conversations with the people around us.

People like those we met tonight remind us of all of the good people we have met along the way. We continue to be thankful for the amazing acts of generosity we see.



Day 66: Klamath Falls, OR to Mt. Shasta, CA

***First, I want to make you aware of a separate post I made last night containing San Francisco Arrival Information. Please refer to it if you plan on meeting us on August 7th.

Now, on to today! We are all very excited to be in California!

Our ride was dedicated to Forrest Meyst, a friend of Mike, the owner of Yeti’s Lair, where we stayed last night. Forrest passed away this year from cancer, and he was a great man loved by many in Klamath Falls.

We crossed into California around mile 16. We spent a lot of time there taking group and individual pictures. It was really fun to see everyone so excited, and we are all so proud of ourselves. I can’t imagine what it is going to be like actually crossing the Golden Gate Bridge!

We had an amazing view of Mount Shasta almost all day. Steven described it as “Majestic.” It’s even taller than the Grand Tetons, and still has a lot of snow covering it.  The mountain is visible from 100 miles away in some areas. The hills were pretty big today, and it got warm, but we all pushed through and enjoyed our route. The first half of our ride was desert, but the second half is how I imagined northern California. Tall evergreens lined the road, and it felt like we were on a bike path. It was very pretty. We also got multiple donations from strangers today, which is always humbling and exciting.

We all stopped in a town called Weed after lunch. I’ll admit that we were unsure about what to expect, but it is a nice little town with a small college. We all enjoyed coffee or milkshakes as well as some air conditioning for a bit.

We are staying at Hope Community Church in Mount Shasta. We got dinner donated from Say Cheese Pizza and Round Table Pizza. Always a bonus to not have to cook dinner!

So far, California is treating us well!


San Francisco Information

The 2016 team will be arriving in San Francisco on Sunday, August 7th! We plan to arrive at the Baker Beach picnic area around 2pm. The San Francisco University of Illinois Alumni Club will be greeting us and will provide box lunches for the riders.

More information about the event can be found at the link below. Supporters can order their own boxed lunches on the page as well. Please let us know if you have any questions!

Day 65: Rest Day in Klamath Falls

Today has been the most restful rest day we have had so far. We all slept super well on the cushy rock climbing floor and had a leisurely morning. We made our way to Dutch Brothers Coffee and The Daily Bagel at our own pace for breakfast, and all went our separate ways from there. While Klamath Falls has a nice downtown, it isn’t a very big city, so there was less pressure than usual to get out and see a ton of different things. Many people did laundry, some wandered downtown, others worked on job applications, and others really just sat on the couch.  We all climbed at some point, which was a fun change in activity.

Mike provided a delicious dinner again. We continue to be thankful for generous stay overs, especially on rest days. It’s hard to believe this is the last one! 6 rides left!

We have greatly enjoyed our time in Oregon but are very much looking forward to crossing into California tomorrow!



Day 63 & 64: La Pine, Crater Lake, and Klamath Falls

What a couple of days!

Catherine chose to dedicate our ride into Crater Lake to her grandmother’s husband Dan Norman. Dan passed away in 2012 after a battle with esophageal cancer. He was a huge Auburn Tigers fan and a great handyman.

The ride started out really fast. We all made great time on the first 40 miles, partially because it was freezing in the morning and we were doing anything we could to get the blood pumping.

We had an 11 mile climb up to the rim of Crater Lake. It was challenging, but we all agreed that we have gotten so much stronger, and that it was really the narrow shoulder and traffic that made it difficult. We saw snow on the way up, and many of us stopped to put it down our shirts to cool off a bit. It was so incredibly odd to be profusely sweating and see this patch of snow just off the road.

We made it to the main lookout on the North Rim, and this is where I struggle to describe what it was like. Everyone just looked. I have never, ever seen water so blue. It’s the kind of blue that if it was a painting, and it was painted to look realistic, it would look unnatural. It was unbelievable to think that there used to be a volcano where we were standing, and that this lake just happened to form because it erupted and collapsed in on itself. It’s the deepest lake in the world, measuring over 2,000 feet at its deepest point. For this reason, the warmest it has ever been is 60 degrees at the surface. We didn’t have the chance to swim, but it would have been chilly for sure.

There was also a wildfire that had been burning for three days, and the wind was blowing it over the lake. The combination of the smoke and a very dangerous shoulder caused us to have to shuttle the last 9 miles of our ride to our campsite. We had a great last night camping. We sat around the fire, talked, laughed a lot, and looked up at the stars constantly. It was astonishing to see more and more come out by the minute. We also enjoyed brief visits from Steven’s parents and Catherine Kemp’s mom and grandma.

Today’s ride was dedicated to the mother of one of Sarah’s classmates. Her name is Andrea Soskel. She is a survivor of intraductile breast cancer.

We cleaned up our campsite and then went to a nearby lodge for breakfast. We didn’t get on the road until 10, but it was a shorter 54 mile day today. We all wore just about every piece of warm clothing we owned to breakfast, and in the 2 hours that passed it warmed up to the point of taking it all off before starting our ride. The day went by quickly, and we all were into the stay over by 3:30.

We are staying at Yeti’s Lair, a rock climbing gym in Klamath Falls. The owner, Mike, is super generous. He is providing dinner for us, bought us all coffee from the near by Dutch Brothers Coffee shop, and is doing everything he can to make sure we are comfortable.

We cross the bridge in San Francisco one week from today! We are all in denial.