Day 35: Wind and Pheasants, That’s What South Dakota Does

Dylan dedicated the ride to his uncle David (dad’s brother) that passed away from bladder cancer 5 years ago.

Another day of heavy headwinds. Luckily we had a shorter ride today of only 45 miles. To treat ourselves as we pulled into Miller, a few teams treated themselves to broasted chicken and ice cream at the local hot spot. After arriving at the United Methodist Church, pretty much everyone took a nap. Later on we gave a presentation about our organization to some church members and then indulged in a feast of a plethora of salads and some fresh burgers and a top notch dessert table.

One thing that I noticed about South Dakota is that there seems to be a subtle obsession with pheasants, as both of the past two towns we have stayed at have had pheasants on their town sign, with Redfield claiming to be “the pheasant capital of the world”. For some reason I question this…

We were informed by a congregation member that “The west begins in Miller” so it is official. We OUT HERE! So far South Dakota has been treating us pretty well (except for the headwind) and the people we have interacted with have been very gracious and welcoming.

The weather channel app informs us that the headwinds will be slowing down tomorrow as we roll into the capital city of Pierre.

Haven’t seen a single pheasant



Day 34: More South Dakota Wonders

Today I wanted to dedicate the ride to Pat McNamara. Today was the annual ‘Pat Mac Pack’ ride from the south side of Chicago to Long Beach Indiana. Pat got a brain tumor when he was two years old and passed away when he was 13. I knew Pat from growing up as the energetic kid I would see on fourth of July, since our families were close. He always had a good sense of humor, and even when he was balding from his chemo treatments he dressed up as the old six flags man for Halloween to keep things light hearted.

Two words: HEAD WIND. For a total of 73 miles today we battled 22 mph headwind on our way from Watertown to Redfield. To put things in perspective for you, Watertown has a total population of 22,000, which makes it the 5th largest city in the whole state. The entire state itself has less than a million people total. As a few of us walked around Redfield after dinner we noticed that it seemed to be a town stuck in the past. Many of the signs were hand painted and the main street looked like it had remained static since the 50’s. Since time is not our priority while on the ride we were shocked when the gas station clerk informed us that coming up is fourth of July weekend. It is really crazy how fast yet slow this trip is moving.

Today we stayed on route 212 for 70 miles today and only passed four gas stations the whole way. Morale started pretty low this morning as we faced rain for the first twenty miles. Luckily for us the sun eventually came out for the last 15 miles. It felt so freeing to be able to shed our layers of coats and feel the wind on our skin at the end.  Once the sun eventually came it it really changed our whole mood. Although South Dakota is not technically the Midwest, it is nice to know that we only have a few days until we start hitting the real scenes like the badlands and Mount Rushmore, and from there, the rest of the west should also be beautiful.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s short 50 mile day.

Where them president heads at



Day 33: You Are Now Entering South Dakota

Mason had the ride dedication today. Here is his statement:

“My mom is a chemo nurse and I have met a lot of her patients throughout her career. There were so many people that I met who were so grateful for my mom to be a caretaker and she has shown that kindness back tenfold to others and myself. By doing this ride I just wanted to keep in mind the work that we do and my mom does go towards them (the patients). I want to keep the memory of the patients that have passed and their fight alive. There was one patient that I remember talking to the night before he passed away. We had a really nice conversation and he was only asking me questions, even though it was his last night alive. It has been inspiring to see the selflessness of people through my mom’s patients and by meeting people during this journey.”

Today’s ride was heavy rain in the morning which eventually cleared up around noon. Our first stop in South Dakota has treated us pretty nicely. We had showers, food provided for us and WIFI. Our awesome hosts even brough us to Thursday night out which featured an Irish band and outdoor seating. They even invited us onstage in front of the audience. Since Watertown is such a small town many of the locals recognized us as outsiders and came up to us to ask us about our I4k shirts.

We have already started to see advertisements for the famous “Wall Drug” in Wall, SD. Will all the hype be worth it? Stay tuned.

Describe your home town: Plantation Florida (close to Fort Lauderdale) classic suburb. Pretty close to a Chicago suburb. Population is pretty close to Naperville “not as rich, much more Jewish”

How did you learn about i4k: I was at Illini sights and sounds. A couple groups that talk. Then I checked it out again on quad day.

How did people react when you told them you were doing this? Spanish side of my family thought I was insane to be doing any physical work over the summer. My stepmom’s family was confused as to why I didn’t want to be with my girlfriend. My parents were supportive. My dad knows that I will randomly pick up things that others might not expect of me.

What were your expectations for this trip: I thought it would be much harder. I thought I would be in much more pain and I would be struggling. Either I have gotten stronger or the routes aren’t as hard as I expected. I thought it would be fun but being able to sit in on Portraits has exceeded my expectations. Meeting people and talking to them has given me much more of a push to finish the ride. I have been surprised at the kindness of the random people we meet. Complete strangers will show you kindness and it has been a bit overwhelming.

What has been your favorite state so far: I really liked Wisconsin. The lakes were great. And even though we rode through Minnesota we didn’t actually go into any of the lakes. Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin was really cool. I liked being able to explore the nature of the state.

Favorite stayover: Hutchinson. The water park there was awesome.

Favorite ride: The first century with Mickey and Nodus was real fun. It sucked, but it was a good ride because we made it fun.

Favorite team memory: Dan’s rant about Notre Dame. When we were in the thunderstorm and stuck at a gas station. Phil got a pizza that got stuck in the oven when the power went out, so it was just kind of sitting there kind of half-baked and then our group was hanging out in the carwash in the gas station waiting out the rain.

What are you still looking forward to: Wyoming and the state parks like Yellowstone

Describe I4k in one word: memorable.

Bein’ stoic and managing.



Day 32: Supersize Us

Christina Su dedicated the ride today because she found out that her grandmother has recently found cancer cells.

At this point, any ride that is under 70 miles the team considers an easy ride, even though today’s ride was 68.6 miles. Although we expected rain, once again, we lucked out and didn’t even see drizzle as we rolled out. With near perfect conditions: warm but not too sunny, a tailwind, and clear and well paved roads, the first 40 miles practically flew by. So far Minnesota takes the prize on state with the best maintained roads. However, a half mile of construction led us to an extra 3-mile detour which included walking our bikes through a gravel road.

We arrived in Montevideo (Minnesota, not Uruguay) at around 2:30 today. Within 10 minutes of arriving at the Montevideo Middle School most of the team claimed a spot (pro tip: always go for a space with an outlet), had set up their sleeping bags, and took a well-deserved post ride nap.

Today’s unexpected happening was McDonald’s donation hooked up by Mason “Floridaman/dolphin killa” Metzkes. It is nice to not have to worry about calorie consumption on ride days, and because of this, many of us got a hamburger side along with our free fries and double cheeseburgers.  When I think about it, we don’t actually even eat that many “nutritional foods”. Some weeks we don’t see a single vegetable on our plates, unless you consider tomato sauce on pizza a vegetable (I know the FDA does).  Hopefully I will be able to resume healthier habits once this is all over.  For now I will live in ignorant bliss of the my daily fat count as long while I spend 8+ hours a day on a bike.

On the CLIF bar diet for now.



Day 31: Water in Minnesota

Alia stepped up to dedicate today’s ride to her friend Jasmine’s mom, who recently passed away from cancer. Jasmine attended Lake Forest High School with Alia.

Dylan’s breakdance Mosher this morning surprised us: Colin “Lil T” Tainter is an avid breakdancer. Who would have thought…

Simple 60 mile ride today from Minneapolis to Hutchinston Minnesota. Luckily a rain shower only lasted for about 10 minutes as we rolled out in the morning and we had warm breezy weather the whole way through. So far I have been very impressed with the landscape of this state and it has been cool to see the “10,000 lakes” slogan in action.  We rolled through a ritzy suburb today and had our first rest stop in an upscale downtown area off of Lake Minnetonka.

After finishing up the ride we were surprised with passes to the local water park and everyone got to dip a toe. We took turns swinging off of the zipline into the pool and jumping off the diving boards. After a pizza dinner some of us got frozen yogurt while others (Tyler) completed the “leg waxing challenge” as Alia took off his leg hair to “make him more aerodynamic while riding”. Sure…

While eating our frozen dessert Nick Su, David, Analisa, Schuchen and I were discussing what it is about I4k that makes it so enjoyable.  We were saddened at the thought that it would probably never be possible for all 27 of us to be together again after the ride (unless someone on the team gets married, which we’ve seen from alumni that it is). Towards the end of this talk we agreed that the unexpected things that happen every day like getting to go hang out in a random water park in Minnesota, are what make every day memorable, and the ride overall awesome.

There’s water parks in South Dakota right?



Day 30: If You Can Dream It, They Can Engineer It

Fourth rest day today. To kick off the morning we visited with cancer researchers Dr. Chris Stack and Stephen Heinsch on the University of Minnesota campus in St. Paul. Their shared discipline falls into the field of synthetic biology and specifically mammalian cells.  Their research focuses on reprogramming t cells to attack tumors on cancer patients.

We learned that at the moment, the University is licensing technology to a company to use in car t therapy. This works by extracting a patient’s t cells, engineering them to recognize and kill tumors, and then administering them back to the patient.

Since I am not a student in the sciences, I expected the meeting to be a bit over my head, however, the two kept the meeting very lively by engaging us in interesting happenings in the field of synthetic biology.  Although it focused some of us to try and remember the basics of the last intro to bio class we took, it was still very interesting. As we listened, each of us tried to see how this talk connected to our specific field, and actuarial science man Dan joked “can a genome have insurance”.

During their talk they brought up the possibility of synthetic blood, to help the dilemma of shortages in surgery. I also learned that genome sequencing is becoming standard practice in places such as Europe, and Stephen even pointed out that he “had a small device that plugs into his laptop that could sequence genomes” as if it were a casual thing to own. These two proved to be fanboys of the famous George Church aka the father of synthetic biology. As they began to delve deeper they revealed that they were interested in that type of sci-fi bioengineering you know of from movies like Jurassic Park or Gattica. And at one point they discussed a researcher at Harvard that is actively trying to recreate wooly mammoths.

After the meeting the team broke up and either made their way to one of the many local bike shops in the hipster neighborhood that we are currently residing, or took to exploring the town. To cap off the night many of us visited the famed Mall of America and treated ourselves to a sushi dinner. Overall Minneapolis was a very clean, bike-friendly, hipster city. I wouldn’t be mad if I ended up here (during the summer only).

God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs. Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.


Look up George Church yourself if you are not familiar. (He is impressive)