Day 10: Cleveland ~new~ Heights

Today the team rode 59.4 miles from Ashtabula to Cleveland, Ohio. Today was another toasty day with lots of hills and climbing. The team agreed that the hills in Ohio rivaled the hills we saw in upstate New York. The day was very good, although it was hot we got to get free pancakes for our first rest stop! There was a memorial day breakfast at a fire station in a town we were riding through. They saw us and graciously invited us to eat. They were so kind and generous and provided delicious pancakes. It was definitely an unexpected and great surprise on such a tough day! We also got to meet a few alumni of The University of Illinois alumni club, they came to meet us and gave us much needed ice to keep the water in the coolers cold. It was so nice of them to make the drive to see us! The rest of the day consisted of very long and hard hills. Everyone was winded and sweaty when they arrived at the lunch stop. The lunch stop was able to revive everyone just enough to push through the last 10 miles of giant hills. The lunch stop was also at a fruit farm so some people got creative with their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Later on, a large group went to a baseball game ( White sox vs. Cleveland Indians) and explored downtown Cleveland.

I would like to thank Grace Lutheran Church for hosting the team tonight. Also a special shoutout to Matthew and Hitarth for being such great bike mechanics for the team. They are always being called to fix different things on people’s bikes at various points throughout the day. They are always quick to fix problems and are happy to help when needed.

Tomorrow is our first official rest day! This has been a long time coming for the team and we cannot wait to explore Cleveland and spend some time relaxing!

~Tailwinds~
Mandy

Flat Count: 2
Song of the day: Call me Al

Day 9: Always sunny in Ashtabula

Today the team rode 74.5 miles from Westfield, New York to Ashtabula, Ohio! Finally a new state, and we even got to cross through Pennsylvania. Two pictures at state lines later and we finally arrived at the stay over. Today was a very HOT and HUMID in the high 80’s. Each rest stop was in the beating sun but the van clan kept the moral high by playing some jams at rest stops where the team worked on mastering ”the floss. We also found the infamous Sheets as our lunch stop for today. Sheets is the gas station of all gas stations. Seriously it is an I4K pastime for good reason they have everything you could ever want and need. They have the best cheese curds with ”boom boom sauce”, tried and tested from our team. Riding along Lake Erie again gave some nice scenery to look at throughout the day. Some teams we’re speedy and tried to beat the heat while others took their time and made multiple food stops along the way including stops for apple slushies and root beer floats!

Tonight we are staying at the First Presbyterian Church where they provided our team with a lovely dinner. It was great to meet the people that were hosting us!
~Tailwinds~
Mandy

Flat count: 0
Song of the day: Sensations
Memorable moment: A wild bat was flying around the church at our last stay over around midnight. Several team members were woken up and attempted to smack the bat with shovels. Lots of screaming later the bat was finally wacked to it’s death. Needless to say it’s always an adventure with I4K!

Day 8: Windy Westfield

Today the team road 59.6 miles from Buffalo to Westfield, New York. It was a relatively easy day biking along side Lake Erie. A few hills later and the team made it to the lunch stop. Props to Lauren the van driver/soccer mom of the day for picking a rest stop right on the boardwalk. Nestled within a cute little pocket of shops was a bomb ice cream shop that refueled the team today after they rolled into lunch a little run down. Everyone was feeling a little exhausted today due to yesterday’s doozy but we pushed through! A few groups kept their moral high by dancing and attempting to ride with no hands on the handle bars. The groups also went to the beach to see the lighthouse along route. The guys group also saw a rollerblading man who past them going 22 mph on a downhill. They instantly found their new idol. After the ride a few soccer fans convinced the team to go watch the game (Manchester vs. Liverpool) at a sports bar. Later on the team watched Mamma Mia together!! We quickly learned who are and who are not the singers of the team haha

I would like to thank United Methodist Church for hosting our team today. We are living large tonight as almost half the team gets to sleep on a couch!! Also shoutout to our food dudette Sam for hooking us up with free food every night so far, you rock!

Tomorrow we are off to Ohio! It’s been fun New York but onward we go.
~Tailwinds~
Mandy

Daily flat count: 2
Song of the day: Mamma Mia soundtrack
Memorable moment: The team riding an extra few miles to the lighthouse beach and being unanimously underwhelmed by the lighthouse but making jokes of how great it was anyways.

Day 7: Bustling winds in Buffalo

Today the team rode 70.9 miles from Rochester to Buffalo, New York. The day started out smooth and easy but about midway through the wind started to pick up and the headwinds began to slow us down. The resistance from the headwinds left us winded and everyone was pretty exhausted when they arrived at the stayover. The beautiful sunny weather contributed to good vibes despite the head winds. Today we also got to eat meat and cheese Sammy’s as opposed to the usual PB&J. We have been eating good these last 7 days and I hope it continues in Ohio!

All of us have begun to get injuries or small aches from a weeks worth of riding without having built up the muscle yet required for all the miles. Cramping in hands, sunburns, sore butts and achy knees we all continue to push through the discomfort and know it will only be a little longer before our bodies become used to all the physical activity we are putting them through.

I would like to thank our stayover Grace Lutheran Church for hosting us and providing us with a delicious dinner! Some of us even get to sleep on air mattresses. It’s amazing how little things are appreciated so much more on the ride when everyone is living off so little. The kindness and support that all the stayovers have showed in New York has been so incredible. Every kind gesture has not gone unnoticed and the team could not be more thankful. One more day in New work and then we are off to the Midwest!
~Tailwinds~
Mandy
Flat count: 1
Song of the day: paint with all the colors of the wind
Memorable moment: Multiple people sleeping in strange places today. Sam fell asleep at the rest stop with a sandwich in hand. Eric fell asleep standing up. Kathy fell asleep outside our stayover.

Day 6: Short and Sweet in Rochester

Today was our shortest day yet! We rode an easy 23 miles from Palmyra to Rochester, New York. A beautiful sunny day with a trail along the river made for a leisurely ride. The team remanist on a few months prior when 20 miles seemed like such a long and tiring ride. It is pretty amazing how strong the riders on our team have become, each day people get faster and more confident with their riding. Everyone is improving so rapidly and becoming more comfortable riding in unfamiliar places each day. Unfortunately, our rider event that was scheduled for today was unable to happen, however it gave the team the opportunity to walk around Rochester and rest. We all finished before 10 am which meant our “rest stop” was brunch. We managed to fit the whole team in the van for the first time and drove to a local diner. It was a great time bonding with the team. We are realizing that we are quite the spectacle everywhere we go in our matching shirts and grease stains. A group of us decided to do laundry today, another group went to go a repair bikes, and another group explored Rochester University. A restful and productive day was had by all!

We would like to thank the church of the love faith for hosting us tonight and providing us a very nice space to camp out for the night. They even provided us food! The team has yet to eat pasta and lentils because all of our stay overs have been extremely generous *cheers* Back to a 70 mile day tomorrow.
~Tailwinds~
Mandy

Flat count: 1 -me :(
Song of the day: Tied up right now -parcels
Memorable moment: The whole team jamming out in the Van to extremely loud music with more base than lyrics.

Day 5: Chillin and Grillin in Palmyra

Today the team rode 66.7 miles from Syracuse to Palmyra, New York! Today has been the easiest day by far with very little climbing and less miles. Today was HOT with temps as high as 78 and a beating sun that lasted the entirety of the ride. At the last 20 miles we experience our first head winds of the ride. We can all agree that the head winds from Champaign have not been missed. Everyone on the team is getting to know one another and now the rest stops have become less restful and more fun. Dancing with a portable speaker (tunes cred to van driver Kathy), doing cartwheels and handstands, and abs and arm workouts (gotta keep the balance). Once in Palmyra the team checked out a local ice cream shop called the grill and chill where the quantities of ice cream we’re more than generous. The kiddie size cup was the size of a pint at the grocery store!! We were all happy campers.

A portrait was conducted today at one of our rest stops. The team met a man named Wally who shared that everyone in his immediately family experienced cancer. He explained that it was a struggle for him to fight the urge to ask, ”why not me?” He chose to share his story to encourage family members to not carry guilt with them. To take life as it comes at you.

I would like to thank our hosts at the Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship. They had the greatest arrival for our team with posters in the front of the church and Illini colored decorations. The warm welcome was the icing on top of a great day! Jeni our host even took the time to memorize all our bios and surprised us by knowing all of our names and facts about ourselves before we even introduced ourselves. The food they provided was delicious and the company was even better.

Tomorrow is a very short 20 mile ride to Rochester. It’s safe to say everyone is in need of a little TLC!
~Tailwinds~
Mandy

Daily flats: 3
Song of the day: Despacito
Story of the day: Kathy drove the van today with her bike on the bike rack on the back of the van. Her wheel fell off while she was driving without her knowledge. A group of riders found a spare wheel in the road and decided it would be useful for the team. They called the van and the wheel turned out to be Kathy’s. A wheel found is a wheel saved!