Day 53: As Far as Small Towns Go..

Today I dedicated the ride to my dad’s cousin, JoAnn. Picture the bubbliest, most loving, generous, Texas woman squeezed into a mere 5’3”. She was always the relative that my sisters and I got excited was staying at our house. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the fall of 2015 and passed away in her favorite place, San Antonio Texas, this past March.

Even though we had to wake up at 5 AM this morning because the YMCA we stayed at opened at 6, we still were unable to make the 7:15 rollout time, much to the chagrin of Tyler. But it’s okay because what we lack in timeliness as a team, we make up for in fun. The Spanish speaking conversationalists finally got to ride today and there was mucho practica. The ride today was awesome conditions with little to no wind, a cool yet warm temperature, and no winds. We finished off the last 18 miles at an average pace of 19 mph.

Drummond is a small town of only 300 something, however the local diner, Parker’s did not disappoint. With over 101 burger options to choose from, Nick Nodus, the team foodie, even claims that it was the best food that he had on the ride so far. After this pre-dinner before pasta and lentils, we attended a meet and greet at the library, run by husband and wife power duo Jody and Kevin. They both work at the high school we are staying at. After talking about our favorite summer memories from the ride so far, they invited us back to their front yard for s’mores and stories. Their daughter even let us play with her 10-week old golden retriever puppy.

As far as ideal i4k days go, today was pretty sweet. Tomorrow we have a short 55 mile ride to Missoula where we have a rest day.

MB

 

 

Day 52: It’s Possible to be Full?

We rode 81 miles from Ennis to Butte today. Once again the west has blessed us with amazing mountain views today we even spotted many sunflowers dotting the sides of the road. Shout out to the 2014 team for the donations of poptarts, cosmic brownies, and cheese balls. They have significantly improved meals for the past two days. The air out west is just plain better and it feels so good to breathe in the unpolluted pine-smelling breeze. At the end of the 80 miles we had 8 miles of uphill climbing followed by 5 miles of downhill. Although it seemed daunting, it was actually not that hard and many of us surprised ourselves at the ease by which our legs were able to carry us up all the elevation.

Kevin and Lil T (Colin T) were able to finesse and get enough pizza donations for every team member to have exactly 5/8 of a pizza, which somehow came out to 6 slices of pizza each. We have all vowed to be “the cool rich alums who donate name brand cereal to future teams” so watch out all you future riders.

We are spending the night at a nice YMCA in Butte and because the gym opens at 6, we have a 5 AM wake up call.

I guess mountain climbing isn’t that hard

MB

 

Day 48-51: Onward West We Go

Today the ride was dedicated to the woman we met yesterday in Yellowstone. After learning about our organization’s mission, she informed Michaeline and I that the reason she was in the park with her two sons, was because her husband had originally planned the trip. Unfortunately, he died of colon cancer earlier this year in April.

Sorry for going incognito on all the daily readers out there. We have been camping in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone the past three days. I know I have made this claim about more than one state before, BUT Wyoming was definitely the best state we have passed through so far. (don’t let dissenters Phil and Tyler tell you otherwise). While in Dubois we met a dude who was completing a world tour on his bike. He plans to ride from Miami to Portland, take a freight boat to China and Kazakhstan, through Europe, and back to the US. He thinks the trip will take around 3 years. If interested, look up ChefAustinHarley on Instagram. Even though his riding style did not exactly match ours, he was an exceedingly interesting man to converse with.

Most of us had not heard of the Tetons before this trip but they were absolutely amazing. For those of you who also were unfamiliar, picture snowcapped mountains with jagged tops and a pristine lake below. We even spent a few hours wading in the lake during our rest day.

We spent yesterday biking 80 miles through Yellowstone. We got to see Old Faithful erupt and turquoise hot springs. To be honest, most of the way in Yellowstone I was counting down the miles until we would finish because of the excess amount of cars and people made riding on the shoulder a little scary. However, it was really cool to see all the wildlife. We witnessed a stoic buffalo (fun fact buffalo and bison are synonyms), a family of elk moving across the road, and an eagle in flight.

Leaving the campsite this morning after three days of sleeping in a tent, I think many of us were thankful that we have the luxury of a roof over our heads for a majority of the ride. Since we were in bear country we had to lock up all of our food while we slept. Some of the team even claim to have heard wolves in the middle of the night yesterday. Although cooking hotdogs and s’mores over the campsite was fun to switch it up, it would be hard to be camping every night. Don’t get me wrong camping was super fun, but I am glad we did not have to do every night like the founding I4k team did. You guys are the true bada**s

Today’s ride was ideal.  Instead of riding over mountains like we have been doing lately, we got to bike in between them and mostly downhill for 70 miles. Two state lines we crossed, Idaho for about 10 miles and then back into Montana. We even had a tailwind towards the end. We got in at around 2 PM and the whole team tackled cleaning the post-camping messy van. Since one bowl of pasta didn’t cut it for most of us, we invaded the local gas station to stock up on snacks.

More tailwinds please

MB

 

 

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