Day 16 – 17: Ride Anxiety is a Real Thing

Almost caught up!  Keep with me folks and I promise I’ll catch us all up to the present day

Day 16: Giving back

Jackie doesn’t seem too happy

Today was our planned rest/service day that we have about once a week during our trip.  These days are great because it gives everyone a rest from biking and van duty to allow us a chance to go out into the community to help those who need it the most.  For today’s service event, we went to Atlanta’s Hope Lodge where those who are receiving treatment for cancer and live more than 40 miles away from the treatment center, can go and stay for free.  It is an amazing place for people to relax and not have to worry about travelling and paying for rooms.  It was quite a luxurious place and a really friendly atmosphere for those staying there.  As soon as we arrived, the director of the Hope Lodge met us and quickly did a run down of the chores we could do to help them out.  It was mostly cleaning, and with such a big group as ours, we were able to get it done pretty quickly.  After lunch, we had the opportunity to give out a scholarship from UCF to a recipient who displayed need for it and has been affected by cancer in some way.  So we all piled into the vans and headed out to the local hospital where our unsuspecting winner was working.  Needless to say, she was pretty surprised to see us all there to congratulate her.  We quickly celebrated and headed back to the Hope Lodge to finish up some last minute chores and to hang out with some of the guests staying there.  It was a really relaxing time, however everyone was starting to get anxious to jump back on the bike as I know my legs were getting the itch to start working out again.

Photo: Looks like ya boys are tired.

The boys and me enjoying a little bit of down time

It’s tough to have that many days off and then work back into the routine you had just gotten used to before the break.  There was little we could do about that, so after returning from Hope Lodge, we went to the local bar we had occupied the previous day to watch the U.S. of A crush Ghana 2-1.  It was really fun and relaxing to see Atlanta, but I did not enjoy it as much as NYC or Baltimore.  I guess that southern city isn’t for me.  Anyways we returned from the bar and it was time to prepare myself for the following day of the physical and mental grind of biking 50 miles to Carrollton, GA.

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“You inspire us”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 17: Time to get my bike legs back

I guess I am front page material now

Ouch.  There is nothing like taking 3 days off the bike, to jump right back on and go 50 miles to Carrollton, GA.  We woke up late that day and were not able to get on the road until 9 am that day (yes, that is late for us).  It was a tough ride because my quadriceps were killing me that day and I knew they were not going to let up any time soon.  The key to any endurance sport is having the mental willpower to overcome the pain of constantly pushing your muscles to keep up with everyone else.  I’m just glad this trip is not a race, because I am sure I would be in last place on this day.  It was a pretty uneventful day otherwise, and it was fun to bike out of Atlanta and into a new town.  Our hosts were really great and I even got on the front page of the newspaper too! I wish I took it with me, but I unfortunately forget to grab a copy in the morning when I saw it (Good thing there is internet).  It was a really nice place and afterwards we decided to go the movies to feel like real people again,  One of my teammates, Erika, is EXTREMELY good at getting donations and discounts for our team, so when we arrived at the theater, she talked to the manager and stuck a deal for us to only pay $.50 a ticket!  It is amazing how generous people are if you just ask.  Anyways, the girls went to go see The Fault In Our Stars (Chick flick movie) and the boys went to go see 22 Jump Street (Comedy) and it was hilarious and totally worth the trip.  It was a really great day overall and I am so happy I am on this trip with everyone on my team.

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Day 14 – 15: The Following 48 Hours

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, Jamie Roberts had passed away on June 13th, 2014 in an unfortunate series of events.  Because of seriousness of the situation, 4k was suspended for 48 hours and we could not ride our bikes at all during this time.  4k for Cancer and The Ulman Cancer Fund staff handled the situation very well in my opinion, which is where I will start the story today.

P.S. I don’t have any pictures for these days so sorry for the boring read!

Day 14: A rough day for everyone

A great graphic someone created to commemorate Jamie

Because of the ban, we had to shuttle from Clemson, SC to Athens, GA.  So in the morning we packed up all of our bags and tents and prepared everything to be shuttled to our next host.  The previous night we were told that a member of the 4k staff will be joining our team in the morning to explain the entire situation and be available to answer any questions or console anybody who needed it.  Stephan Hersey, the program manager for 4k, arrived at the beach around noon and explain everything in it’s entirety.  He is a great leader, and really helped everyone understand the situation.  After the meeting, we set off to the next host with our bikes on the roof of the van and not on the road.  I’m sorry to say I do not have any crazy stories or anything really fun to write about because there was not much we could do.  After arriving at the host we unpacked both vans, and one of them set back out to pick up the other half of the group that had to stay behind because we couldn’t fit everyone in one trip.  That night was pretty uneventful, but we did go over a lot of safety measures and bike handling skills that are nice to touch up on.  We even had a UCF board member come out to us to hang with us the next few days.  She was an amazing person as well who had a lot of experience cycling and really provided another person to talk to about anything we had in mind.  She is even a triathlete like me! Hopefully I can do a race with her in the near future.  Anyways, a pretty uneventful evening and we hit the sack pretty early to get on the road again to shuttle to Atlanta, GA.

Day 15: A day at the zoo

The morning was again pretty routine, except for the fact we had to leave the church by 9 am because they had service later in the morning.  We had to shuttle everyone to Atlanta, so we packed everything up again and the vans headed out.  I stayed behind with Taylor and Allison because we couldn’t load up all the bikes in one trip so some people had to stay back and help out with loading the bikes back on the van when it returned.  It takes about 1 1/2 hours to get to Atlanta from Athens so we had some time to kill when the vans left.  We decided to take a very long 3 mile walk to a local zoo where they rescue animals around Georgia!  It was pretty fun and afterwards we went to a duck pond right next to it to wait until the van picked us up.  After the vans picked us up, I was the designated driver to Atlanta which was a little unfortunate because my entire crew fell asleep on me (My music kept me company though).  We arrived in Atlanta and unpacked everything and headed to a local bar which was pretty fun.  Not much else happened that day though as we were just exhausted from shuttling all day.

Days 12-13: Sorry for the Lateness!!

Ahh don’t hurt me! I know I’ve been late on these blog posts but it has been a crazy past couple of days with little or no Wi-Fi.  I’m going to be trying to do two days at a time to catch up. Let us start from where I last left off…

Day 12: Quad Squad = Best day ever

Another one down!

Had a snap a picture of our great lunch

Woke up to an early morning at 6 am and after the century the day before, you could say the whole team was pretty sore and not totally motivated. Fortunately, we were able to pick our teams this morning and I went with my friends Dan, Matt, and Brad. Before I continue, let me break down my team for you. Dan and Matt were cross-country runners for Hood college and extremely good at it which resulted to be very good at cycling. Brad is an outdoor fanatic and is very good at cycling as well. Needless to say, I felt like the weak link in this group. We left a little later that morning because it was only 51 miles to Spartanburg, SC and my team decided we should start out a little slower to warm up. However, that was not the case. I can honestly say that was the first day I really pushed myself to my limit physically. The first 15 miles were hilly and exhausting after the previous day. After we made it to our first water stop and refueled, we set off once again to find out that a couple of miles down the road was the South Carolina state sign! We stopped for a quick photo shoot and hit back out on the road. Because our group were such strong cyclist, we decided to start a pace line which is an extremely efficient way to bike for long periods of time with a small group. Essentially you ride within 18 inches of the rider in front of you so that the lead person blocks all of the air in front of the other riders and significantly reduces the air resistance for the other riders. It is a little dangerous, but we were experienced enough for it not to be a risk. For the rest of the ride we did this and it was an amazing difference to do this compared to being more spread out. It was a tough ride, but very rewarding because we finished early and got a donation from Cook Out for lunch! Afterwards, we decided to explore the town for a little, and got a victory beer to celebrate the day and wait for everyone else to arrive. We arrived at our host at the local YMCA and it was the nicest Y that I have ever seen. They had an amazing staff and were extremely gracious in offering all of their services for our team. Overall, I would have to say this is the best day of the trip so far.

P.S. We out biked a train. That is how fast we were going (Granted it probably was not going as fast as it could…)

Day 13: It’s all mental

Finally made it to our home!

Glad we didn’t have to bike through this storm rolling up on us

The toll on the body is real when you waking up early in the mornings to bike all day. I usually do not feel it that much when I first get up, so I was feeling peppy as usual and excited for the day. We did the usual routine and we set out for the day and had two guests from the YMCA staff to ride out with us. It was a good day to ride and I set out with my team of Kirk, Aaron, Danny, and Stoney (aka Kevin). It was a great ride group and we had a lot of fun messing around and casually biking to our next destination 68 miles away to Clemson, SC (Originally we thought it was 63 miles, but I’ll get to that later). Stoney did have a flat that day, but it was quick fix and everything went pretty smoothly. Unfortunately, the toll of the past couple of days have began to take it’s toll on me. I was seriously struggling up hills and felt just a drag on my mind that day. I had a great team though, and they were really able to pick up when I needed it without them even knowing they had helped. We arrived at Clemson’s main campus and found out that we weren’t spending a night on campus, but a little ways off at their “beach.” I was not prepared mentally to bike another 5 miles to get there, but I managed to make it and the site was amazing. We were camping right off of the lake and it was an absolute amazing place to be. I really enjoyed it the site, however, a couple of people don’t enjoy the outdoors as much as I do. Anyways, when we arrived, we were able to jump into the lake (Which felt uh-mazing) and cooled off in the best way possible. Afterwards we brought the luggage down and set up the camp. We decided to jump into the showers on the Clemson campus and drove over. As soon as we got out, we were told we needed to make our way back to the camp site as quickly as possible because something had happened. We arrived and our ride director gathered us up and told us some terrible news.
One of the riders on the Portland team was struck by a vehicle and had died. The news hurt to listen to. I could not imagine the loss of a teammate in our team in that situation. The whole team was in shock when we heard. Not a single person has died on the trip in the past 13 years that 4k has been happening so it was terrible situation to be in. The UCF posted a statement about it here and The Baltimore Sun wrote an article about it here.  After hearing the news, we quietly set up our tents, went out to dinner as a team, and hung out to enjoy each others company contemplating on the news.

I wish I could spend more time on this subject, but it will have to wait until another time because I am completely exhausted right now.

Day 11: 100 Miles Later

Photo: Team Numero Uno Day 11 of 70

Team Numero Uno! Great picture we took at the first water stop

Our police escort out of Rockingham!

Wow I feel absolutely amazing.  I can now cross off trying to cycle over 100 miles in one day off my bucket list.  However, this is 4k life, and it isn’t just biking 100 miles that has made this day so great.  First off we got a police escort out of Rockingham!  It was an early morning because we had to wake up at 4:30am to beat the heat as much as possible, but the hosts gave us a great breakfast and even a better send-off!  We even had several articles written about that you can check out here and here! It was so awesome to ride behind a police car and having the entire path be cleared for 25 miles ahead of us.  I finally didn’t have to worry about a semi or a distracted driver trying to run me over on the highway!  Unfortunately they could only get us so far and we had to start fighting for our space on the road again, but it was still cool while it lasted and being able to legally run red lights.   Anyways, Team Numero Uno (Kirk, Spokey, Dayna, and myself) began to take the back roads and  begin trucking through the back roads through hills and small towns in order to make up as much ground as possible before the heat set in.  When 11 o’clock rolled around, we had went 49 miles in about 4.5 hours and stopped for lunch in order to let for the rest of the team to catch up and get some rest before the hardest part of the day: The afternoon heat.  We left the lunch stop right before noon and  began our journey once again to the next water stop, and ultimately our host, however misfortune overtook our group as Spokey broke a spoke and had to get into one of the vans because we couldn’t do the repair on the spot.  After the short delay we headed to the next water stop for a quick break and to recharge our batteries and everything was going fine until just after the next water stop at 75 miles into our ride.

Official trip mileage! Proof I actually went this far

At our water stop 75 miles in, we notice these large dark clouds rolling in over the horizon and knew it spelled trouble.  After riding for a couple of miles, it started drizzling and then suddenly raining cats and dogs.  We obviously couldn’t ride in that weather, so we pulled into a driveway to wait out the downpour.  After 10 minutes, the storm began to clear up and we started off once again as it was only drizzling at this point.  Riding when it’s wet out is quite dangerous, and it was even worse because we were biking along the highway with no shoulder and traffic flowing around you at 60 mph.  It became even crazier because it started to rain again, but we didn’t want to stop because we were so close and stopping would just create a bigger delay in our arrival and we would be wet longer and even more exhausted. So we pushed forward.   During this time, I couldn’t believe how careless drivers were as they would pass us with barely enough space to maneuver with even some of them honking at us.  I had never thought I was so close to be in an accident from biking then this day.  Furthermore, since we were biking in our team, it becomes increasingly dangerous because stopping becomes harder and communication of further danger becomes crucial between teammates.  Even though this was dangerous, I had a great team and we made it to the host just fine and in great spirits (so nobody freak out please).  I had an amazing team and it felt so amazing to see the 100 miles on my bike computer.  Overall it was a great day and when arrived at our host in Gastonia, NC (102 miles total!), they had beer and wine for us to drink during dinner!  This trip has been amazing so far, and I can’t wait to wake up in the morning each day and ride to the next town

Day 10: More Heat, Not Enough Food

Team with the Mayor of Rockingham!

Hey gang! So today was completely crazy, and I was not able to take any pictures on my own phone 😦 sad I know, but I have a reason. Also on a side note, I am biking 100 miles tomorrow, which will be a huge accomplishment so I have to type this up fast.  So today I had the opportunity to be in the food van with Micaela so that we could scourer the local fast food joints and restaurants to find food donations for lunch while chalking on the ground ahead of them to lead them in the right direction and to check ahead to ensure that the roads are ride-able for the cyclists coming through.

It is a very stressful job as I found out because our directions took us to non-existent and untraversable roads.  Furthermore, we rely on food donations to provide lunch to our riders and ensure the all of the money we raised can go directly to the Ulman Cancer Fund.  Unfortunately, we have no idea if we are going to get food or not and our team depends on us to get them food.

(Sorry I’m all over the place, hopefully I can edit this later.)

So Micaela and I started off our day chalking, found a road to have disappeared in front of our eyes that Google Maps said was there.  So we had to quickly look at a map and plan a detour for our riders.  After we mapped out a detour and chalked it, we scavenged the area for food.  Long story short, I loathe fast food joints.  Not a single one could manage to spare even a little bit of food and after 2 hours and 14 eateries later, we managed to bring 2 pizzas and 4 subs to our teammates from mom and pop shops we stopped at.  I hoped it was enough, because it is the worse feeling in the world not to be able to support your team when they count on you the most during that time of the day.  It was a rough day for the entire team as well as it was reaching the mid-90s by lunchtime and the team had to bike an extra 20 miles due to the poor route Google gave us (definitely not trusting Google anymore…).  Even though it was a rough day, our host was amazing and even got us a police escort into the town for the last few miles!  It was pretty cool driving behind the riders and seeing the entire way cleared for them.  At the host, the mayor of Rockingham (Oh yeah the trip was 70ish miles for the cyclist today) came out to meet us and even got the pool to stay open late so we can quick dip in after dinner!  It was a pretty rough day for me and the team overall, but with every low point comes a high point, and I can’t wait to jump back on my tomorrow to complete my first century (100 miles on a bike)!!!

Day 9: A Scorcher for the Record Books

Got a picture with Dean!!

Got a picture with Dean!!

Should have listened to all of the Mama Bears on my team and probably should have put on more sunscreen then what I originally hadplanned on because it was ridiculously hot outside today.  We woke up at 5:30 am like most days and were able to clean, pack, and eat a scrumptious meal that Dean had provided for us.  However, Mother Nature was not on our side as we looked outside to see it absolutely down pouring.  Biking in the rain can be much more dangerous, as you have to be conscious about biking around drivers swerving, taking turns easier, and being conscious of a longer braking distance.  The rain eventually subsided into a light sprinkle before we left and completely stopped several minutes after the start of our ride.  The roads were still pretty slick by lunch time so we still had to be very careful, but nobody got hurt because of the roads today.

Waiting on Kenny to fix his tire…

 

After the rain cleared up, it was time for Team Work (Clever I know) to put some miles on the road as it turned into a brutal day to be riding.  Fortunately, my team was made up of Allison, Kenny, and Dayna and we were all strong cyclist with a positive outlook on our 82 miler day from Raleigh, NC to Fayatteville, NC as we had to deal with mechanical issues (All from Kenny…) that included a flat tire and a broken spoke nipple, to unpredictable weather from a high of 95 degrees and brutal headwinds for our last 20 miles of our ride.  I felt that I have pushed myself more mentally and physically today, than I have for this trip so far.  I have never experienced anything as worse as riding on a straight highway with no curves, facing head winds making it seem like you are accomplishing little even though you are exerting the most amount of effort as possible.   Even though it was a struggle, Team Work got it done even though we were the last to arrive at the host location.  I have never felt so exhausted after biking on this trip until today…I didn’t even feel like running when we arrived!  Luckily, it’s a van day for me tomorrow so I will be looking forward to resting and recovering.  Until next time loyal readers!

 

 

Team Work finishing out strong! With a little photo bomb by Spokey as well

 

 

Day 5-8: Motivation, Dedication, and a Much Needed Day of Rest

Ahh so sorry I couldn’t update my blog yesterday! We didn’t have any reliable Wi-Fi at the church we were staying at in Farmville, VA but fortunately I do here in South Boston, VA!  Alright let’s get down to business (cue Mulan music)…Alright gang sorry again, but it’s like I don’t have time to do anything as soon as we get to the host so I’m sorry for the late blog posts but here they are

Day 5: Motivation leads the way

Photo: Made it to Farmsville VA!!!!! #Day5 #4kforcancer Thank you Farmsville Church of Christ for having us.

Made it to our host in Farmville, VA!

Team Motivated!

I had a great team today and it was so much fun riding with them.  Allison, Matt, Danny M., and I made up Team Motivated (Cheesy, but it got us through the day) and we crushed the uphills and challenges that we faced.  We were able to travel some beautiful back roads as we had trees lining our path to farms with endless rows of corn.  We biked 68 miles from Petersburg, VA to Farmville, VA and it was probably one of my best days yet.  It is so much fun to bike with different people each day and get to know them in ways that other activities just cannot compare.  We even created our own cheer that we used at every water stop and after several climbs.   At the end of the day, we all felt great and we had wonderful hosts who provided us with a wonderful feast that all of the previous hosts have done in the past.  We even added to our cheer in the morning with the whole team because of a “pro tip” that Tyler tried to give Allison of how to ride with no hands, but it didn’t turn out too well for him (sorry Tooler).  After our feast, our hosts at the church had worship practice and invited Max to come up and practice with them.  It eventually turned into a crazy jam session and I really wish I had recorded.  Overall it was yet again another great day on 4k.

 

Day 6: Nothing beats a quick dip in a river

Photo: Nothing feels better than jumping into a river after riding all day

Quick stop in the river for a nice break!

Wu Tang Clan on Day 6

We woke to an absolutely amazing breakfast prepared by host and I feel like I could make an Instagram account just for all the food that we received from all of our wonderful hosts.  After packing down the calories and during our daily chores, we set out on the day’s ride ready for another adventure.  We were originally suppose to take back roads to our destination, however, our host thought it would be better to just take the highways to our new host so we did….for a little bit.  Little did the host know that riding on a highway for an endless amounts of miles with little scenery with a near death experience with every semi passing is one of the most boring/horrific experiences anyone can experience (Can I get any snaps for this one 4k?).  So after spending a grueling 15ish miles on the highway, we decided to jump back on the original route where traffic was light, hills were steep, and where conversations could be heard.   One of the best moments so far on this trip had to be when we were about 20ish miles away from the host and we are crossing a bridge to see everyone down by the river splashing around and enjoying themselves.  I enjoyed myself as nothing feels better than sitting down in a pile of sand with a current of water rushing across your back after days and days of riding.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay there forever as we had to jump back on our bikes again and make it to our host before we lost all motivation to jump back on our bikes.  We eventually made it to South Boston, VA after fun-filled 60 mile day, and just like every time before, our hosts we absolutely amazing.  They even gave us mattresses and sleeping bags so we did not have to take out our own!  It is the little things like that, and shuttling back and forth to the local YMCA to take a quick shower that makes you feel a little more amazed at each host we stay at.  After another amazing dinner (I told you I won’t stop saying that) we hit the town for a local bar for a well deserved brew before we crashed (sleeping, not biking) in preparation for the next day’s ride.  It has only been a week but this trip just feels like vacation where all of the days just blend together and it is almost like you are in this little bubble of awesomeness blocking out all the negativity that resides in our daily lives.

 

Day 7: A rough day, but we made it (Cue Drake)

2 states down, only a bunch more to go!

After our wake up, chores, and packing, riding groups were assigned and we started off on what became so far one of the toughest days on this trip.  I’m usually an upbeat kinda fellow as it takes a lot to knock me down, but fortunately my team helped me recover and I was able to pull through.  It started out as the typical 4k day, however, the biking gods were not looking kind on my group as my main man Spokey (His parents call him Simon) broke a nipple off of his spoke.  As I know most of you may not know much about bikes, let me break this down for you on what happens when you break a nipple off of your spoke as quickly as possible.  You have to take the tire, tube, and lining off of the rim.  Then you must find the broken nipple in the rim and replace it with a new one.  After installing the new nipple, you must put everything back together and then “true” the wheel.  This involves a meticulous process watching the wheel spin and correcting the “wobble” by tightening or loosing the spokes on the wheel.  It is a complicated process, but hopefully you get the picture that it takes awhile to accomplish.  Fortunately, we had a strong team going into it we were able to carry on a way until we encountered a pinch flat on the wheel we just fixed the nipple on and had to repair that.  All in our we were quite delayed in our journey, but after a wrong turn, getting hungry, and powering through the hot day, we reached the North Carolina state line!  Even though we had made it to the state line, our troubles were not over as we were so far behind the main body, we had to really push it to catch up.  About 35ish miles into our journey, Spokey broke another nipple and everything seemed to fall apart as we did not have a frame pump to use and I lost my nozzle for my CO2 cartridges to re-pump the tire.  So we had to get into the water so it could shuttle us up to the next water point because we were so far behind and we needed a pump to get back on the trip.  We only lost about 13 miles of riding, but I felt bad for anyone who was near me the rest of the day because I was definitely being Mr. Grumpy Gills at this point.  Fortunately we were able to finish the ride out and reached about 55 miles that day to our wonderful host Dean Hallberg in Raleigh, NC.

Dean Hallberg is one of the most amazing man I will ever meet and has one the most incredible stories I have ever heard.  Please, please ask me to tell you it as I am about to give a nutshell of what he told us.  He lost his first wife Debbie to cancer and was completely heart-broken.  Fortunately he met another women at a grief counseling center for those affected by cancer and met his second wife, Colette.  Colette had also lost her spouse to cancer and they were able to console each other and eventually were married.  Sadly, after about 10 years of marriage, Colette found out she had cancer as well and lost her fight several years ago.  Even after losing two wives to cancer, Dean is one of the happiest, out-going, loving man I have, and probably will, ever meet.  One quote that will stick with me to this day is “Happiness is a choice” and I hope to live with that quote by my side for the rest of my life.  After that we told each other our own stories and we bonded over everything that has happened and really put into perspective how I really should not be that upset that I couldn’t bike those 13 miles because I am blessed for so many other things.  After a few drinks afterwards, we cozied up in his home and went to sleep.

 

Day 8: A day of absolute, blissful, rest

Long story short because I am sure you are tired of reading: Food, biked, swam, Raleigh, and mental relaxation.  It was a much needed day of relaxation and I could not have enjoyed it more without my 4k team.

Enjoying the day at the river during a light bike ride!

Day 4: Rivers, Heat, and Team Hooky

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Belle Isle near Richmond Virginia

 

Woke up today at 6:20am and set out to cleaning out our temporary home and packing for the day.  Our route today was only 23 miles to Petersburg, VA, but we had to get out of the cathedral by 9am today.  After our dedication circle, we set out to the park to relax and enjoy the day as we had to contact the host at 10am to check-in to see when we could get there.  The host told us of a river that we could go to that we could wade in that was called Belle Isle only a mile away.  So myself and two other teammates decided to check out the river while the rest of the team scoured the area to look for food donations.  It’s hard to describe how awesome it was to just jump on our bikes and check out this beautiful river, but hopefully the picture helps out.

 

 

 

 

Team Hooky at the end of our ride

Team Hooky at the end of our ride

It was absolutely amazing to just relax in the water with it rushing over. Wish I could do that after every ride, but unfortunately I cannot.  We stayed for about a hour when we decided we should head back to park because the rest of the team wanted to hit the road again for our next destination.  By the time we got back to the host, most of the team had left and it was us and one other group that still had not left yet.  Fortunately for us Team Hooky (Our group name for the day) were made up of powerful and talented people and were able to absolutely crush the ride for the day.  We were the last to leave for the day, and city was quite treacherous to ride through from potholes, distracted drivers, and the occasional weaving through pedestrians.  We were able to reach Route 1 after a little detour from the directions that actually saved us a large chunk of time from route so much so that we were able to pass 2 other groups who followed the directions.  On a side note, it’s incredibly hard to plan out these routes because you have never been to the towns before and we have no idea if there is any road closure, or the quality of the roads so shout out to our leg leaders who do all the planning.  Now, back to the story.  We reached Route 1 and completely raced through the rest of the way because it was a straight shot to Petersburg.  We probably averaged around 16ish mph and I reached a max downhill speed of about 34 mph.   The answer is yes, I might have broken a few speed limits on those downhills (sorry mom).

 

Anyways, we were the first to make it to our host at the YMCA in Petersburg in 2 hours flat including water stops, short breaks, and the annoying red light.  The hosts here are absolutely amazing, and it still blows my mind that these people are so generous with the food they give us and the facilities they provide for our use.  After my ride today I went out for a short run, as I have been doing the past few days, just to get a scope of the town.  I think it is so interesting to see the different lives different people live within big cities such as Richmond, to smaller towns in Petersburg.  Anyways it is about time for me to clean my bike and get ready for the next adventure tomorrow where we ride 71 miles to Farmville, VA.

 

Day 1-3: From indescribable feelings to endless hills

Unfortunately I cannot keep track of all of the days that have gone by since we left, it has been such a blur that it almost seems unreal.  To me it seems like just another training ride, but with a different route each day.  It is an amazing feeling to be going through back roads one minute, to reaching a highway with a seemingly endless amounts of miles in front of you.  Before I get to this day though, let me recap the previous two days quickly.

So I guess this is really Happening

Tire dipping into the Inner Harbor!

Day 1:  It was an absolutely amazing day to be in Baltimore at the Inner Harbor early in the morning on Sunday.  It still has not hit me yet that I would be BIKING ACROSS THE COUNTRY.  It seemed surreal as I was standing there with my teammates dipping our back tires into the harbor and getting onto our bikes to launch off into one of the greatest adventures of our lifetimes.  This day was a blur as we thankfully had alumni to help with van duties and lead each group of us to our destination.  It was a tremendous help to have someone who just had this experience within the last few years to help calm our nerves and guide us in what we would be doing for the next 70 days.  After 6ish hours, we finally made it to our first destination 61 miles away: La Plata, MD.  We stayed at a local church and our host were incredible in providing dinner AND breakfast for us while allowing us to use their facilities.  They set a high bar for the rest of our hosts on our trip.

One state down, only a bunch more to go

Casual pose with crossing the first state line.

Quick picture break with my group after climbing!

Day 2:  Water van duties.  The greatest relief and the greatest struggle all at the same time.  Each rider rotates through this van and the food van every 8 days to provide a rest day for our legs and support our riders on the road.   Myself and another teammate were in charge of making water stops along the route for the bikes to stop by to quickly refill and relax before they continue on their journey.  Unfortunately for our day, we had a toll bridge that crossed into Virginia about 14 miles away from the host that would not allow bikes to cross.  So we decided to set up a water stop right before the bridge at a gas station to allow the riders to fill up and relax.  Due to the prohibited bike travel across the bridge, we had to ferry people across the bridge using the vans in 2 waves which took 3 hours to complete.  Needless to say it put a delay in setting up water stops further along the route as the first wave was easily 10 miles in front of the last group.  Although the delay was considerable, and after many bike breakdowns and repairs, we managed to get to YMCA in Fredericksburg, VA around 4pm that day.  Interestingly enough, after being in the van for one day, all I could think about was getting back on my bike to ride again.

Ok 4k

The cathedral we were staying at!

Day 3: Wow.  Enough said right?? I wish you could have seen what I had seen today while I was biking.  Today we woke up at 5:30am to begin our day.  After chores, packing, and getting ready for the ride, we were ready to head out with a local YMCA member at 8am.  We had only gone about a mile when I start feeling thumping on the front of bike and only to find when I look down to see a HUGE gash in my tire that was splitting open, causing that part of the tire to hit the bicycle fork with every revolution.  Fortunately for me, the water van had spare tires and we were able to quickly wave them down so I could change out the ripped tire.  I was incredibly blessed that the water van had not passed us, or that have spare tires.  I was able to change the tire and my group was able to hit the road again.  The first third of the trip today was amazing.  We rode through back roads where trees lined our path and traffic was light as we made our way through.  We were able to make the first water stop about 15 miles into our journey and were able to meet a bicyclists who were a part of a club, passing through and were thoughtful enough to say hi and take pictures with us.  After our break, we were able to get back on the road and make it to route 1, the major highway that would take us to our next host in Richmond, VA.  Only cyclist and some other 4kers will appreciate what I will say next, but imagine rolling hills for the next 40 miles and constantly changing your gears to compensate for never-ending uphills and downhills.  Although it was difficult, I enjoyed it so much as we had some incredible views to help us overcome the dread of facing another uphill.  After a quick lunch break around mile 35 of Arby’s and McDonald’s, we took off once again to reach our destination.  It’s an amazing difference in temperature from riding on back roads of woods, to shopping centers with no trees around.  It took a toll on everyone in my group as we had to persevere through the torturous heat to make it to our destination in Richmond.   The host locations is at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and it is an amazing church with an incredible background that we learned about through the tour our host gave us.  It was truly humbling to learn the rich history in the place we are staying at.  After showering, unpacking, and grabbing some beer, it is safe to say that I am completely exhausted, but cannot wait for our next day to ride.

Biked over 100 miles total on this trip!

Unfortunately, I’m struggling to keep my eyes open, so if there are many spelling errors then I am sorry!  But please keep up with my blog and all of my teammates as we all of different stories to tell!

P.S. This was a long one, but I’ll try to keep it updated more regularly to shorten the length!

The Amazing Experience of Fundraising

Sorry everyone! I switched over to this website because the other one was kinda glitchy.  This is the post that I had written the night before I left for 4k!

The most amazing feeling

It’s getting late at night, around midnight or so, and it was my second weekend out selling pizza and water to college students at a hot spot on the weekends.  I was physically exhausted, however I tried to keep my head up high as I kept getting shot down by people as I projected my voice in order to draw attention to my fundraising.  Three guys came up to my table where my girlfriend and sister were selflessly helping my endeavors in raising funds for the Ulman Cancer Fund (UCF).  These guys were interested in the cause and I started talking to one of them about the 4k For Cancer and all about the UCF.   He suddenly reached into his pocket and pulled out $20 and handed it to me.  I was completely stunned and taken a back by his generosity when he began to tell me about his brother had testicular cancer ever since he was born and how he understands the struggles of loving someone with cancer.  His two other friends reached into their pockets and handed me more money.  At the end of that conversation, I ended up with $50 out of no where which made me realize one thing: fundraising gives you a new perspective on life.

All leading up to the big day

As soon as I signed up for 4k, it finally dawned on me how much $4,500 actually was, and I had a mini panic attack on trying to figure out how to raise that much money.  However, as of now, I have raised over $4,800 and I couldn’t have done it without the most loyal friends, family, and the random strangers who have restored my faith in humanity and the love of the good will in humans.  I still cannot believe that I already had dinner with my team on Friday, and a long training day on Saturday.  It still has not completely hit me that I WILL BE BIKING ACROSS THE COUNTRY TODAY, but I’m sure it will soon enough.  Even though we haven’t started on this trip yet, I feel as if I have been on this journey ever since I signed up back in the Fall, and I look forward to every moment after this one to continue on this journey.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

My eyes are starting to get heavy, but I’m not sure my body will let me because of my excitement.  Unfortunately if my mother caught me up this late, I will probably be chastised to no end, so with that, I bid you all a good night, and to many memories to be made.