Day 51 - July 31st, 2008 - South Bend, IN - 95 miles


Well as much as I didn’t want to leave Chicago, today was a great day to ride.  After breakfast in the parking garage again, we hit the road.  Only 2 blocks away we hit the Lake Michigan bike trail which was absolutely beautiful.  I took a couple panorama shots of Chicago which I hope will turn out well.  It figures with us that even park of the bike path would be closed and we took a small detour.  The bike trail ended about 12 miles into our 95 mile day and we had city riding for most of the ride.  We actually went through Gary, Indiana which a few years ago was ranked as the #1 city for murders.  Most of the city was run down but it wasn’t like a ghetto or anything.  My legs felt great today though as I hoped they would.  After the past week with all the racking and 2 days off, my legs got the rest they desperately needed.    During the ride, Mason got lost in one of the crew vans and had lost his phone the night before so he headed straight to South Bend which meant we had to roll with just 3 crew vans today.  Not too many problems though, we all kept a really good pace today, only thing that slowed us down was all the stop lights we hit.  We played a joke on the South team today by sending them text messages that Mason was arrested for a DUI.  After Ezra, their project manager, frantically called Geoff to ask him about it when Geoff had no idea and Mason was standing next to him.  We thought it was hilarious but not so many other people did, oh well.

We finally made it a whole day but it cost us precious time.  Dinner with the Knights of Columbus was pushed back and we didn’t get to shower beforehand.  I was itchy all over from some contact rashes that have been bothering me.  After dinner, we took a really quick tour of Notre Dame.  It was already pretty dark out and unfortunately didn’t get to see much of the campus as Mason was in a rush to get back and see his parents.  I did get to see a little bit of the outside of the stadium and touchdown Jesus.

We have to wake up at 5 am tomorrow and curfew is at 11:30 tonight so everyone stayed in.  We also passed into the Eastern Time Zone today so we lost an hour. Tomorrow should be a good day with a 50-60 mile ride.  Michigan, here we come.

Day 50 - July 30th, 2008 - Chicago, IL - 0 miles

Wooohooo! Wake up this morning was at 8:30 and felt so great.  I still can’t believe I say that.  We had a team breakfast in the parking garage by the vans.  That was certainly one of the more unique places for breakfast.  But after we were done with dinner, we didn’t have to be back at the hotel until 2:30.  I spent the first hour or so catching up on news and stuff in the hotel room until a group of us were ready to head out.  We went to Millennium Park and I quickly separated from the group and went to do my own thing.  I just walked around and took pictures until I had to catch the Blue line to go to lunch with Laura. 

Laura is one of my best friends from architecture at Tech and I am partially responsible for her job at Wilkinson Blender in Chicago.  She was looking in Chicago for a job and is really big into “green” architecture.  When I was reading a Dwell magazine and came across a project they had done with wind turbines, which Laura was incorporating into her thesis project, and saw they were from Chicago, I gave the magazine to her to look at and told her she should send her resume to them.  Shortly thereafter she was given an offer which she accepted, so I felt it appropriate that I take credit for her job.  Not like she did anything to get it, haha.  It was great to see someone from Tech again though.  Her office was up in Bucktown and we went to Potbelly for lunch which I had been craving since my connecting flight in Midway on the way out to San Francisco at the start of the trip.  We always went to Potbelly 2 years ago since there was one right by our office.  Actually, around Chicago, Potbelly is much like Starbucks, they are everywhere.   Laura also made me cookies which was awesome of her, but that meant I didn’t really need to get one of Potbelly’s delicious cookies.

After lunch I headed back to the Loop and with a little time left, I went to my old office building and reminisced.  I wanted to go up to SOM’s office, but didn’t.  I really wonder if the keycard they gave me 2 year ago still works.  I know they forgot to cancel it the first time we left Chicago, and I’ve been wondering about that ever since I found that out. 
Dinner was at the Marion Joy Rehabilitation Hospital and was a very delicious chicken Caesar salad.  The ride out there was 2 and a half hours long again as we were hit rush hour traffic and my knees were killing me for the rest of the day after sitting in the back of the van for the whole ride.  The sponsors told us about the sponsorships the MarionJoy foundation gives out to people with disabilities who are attending college and had 2 of the recipients speak to us.  We then toured their 2 year old 65 million dollar new hospital which was really cool too. 

We headed back to town but didn’t get back early enough for us to go to Second City which I really wanted to do.  Most of the guys went to Navy Pier to watch some firework and bar hop.  I didn’t feel like walking all the way over there and would much rather just walk around Chicago.  Tim, Doc, Sam, John, and I went to Millennium Park again to take pictures at night.  There was a silent movie going on at the Pritzker Pavillion too which brought back memories from 2 years ago.  I managed to stay with the group longer this time, but still ended up separating from them as I walked around the park and eventually moved north to the river.  I ended up taking 235 pictures today.  I headed back fairly around 10 or so to catch up on my journals and to relax.  We have a big day tomorrow and the first part of the ride should be awesome as it is on a bike path along Lake Michigan.  I don’t want to leave Chicago though.  I love this city like no other.  I still can’t really believe I’m back, and can’t believe I’m leaving already. 

Day 49 - July 29th, 2008 - Chicago, IL - 83 miles (27 cycled)


So I had been looking forward to this ride since I signed up for the trip and in fact Chicago was part of the reason I wanted to do the north route.  I worked and lived in downtown Chicago for 6 weeks last fall semester and had such an amazing time.  Chicago is such an amazing city.  The ride started off with a lot of city riding and about 25 miles we had our first wrong turn courtesy of Mason yet again and shortly thereafter we were racked.  We were told it was only for a few miles but it ended up being all the way to stage up.  Somehow it took us 2 and a half hours to go 50 some miles in the van.  The team was all really pissed about today and the past week since we’ve been racked most every day.  What really sucked was that Drew’s dad and family friend were ride-a-longs for the day and they had to rack too.

We arrived at the nicest hotel we will have all trip, Palmer House Hilton, and it is amazing.  It’s only a block away from where I used to work, a block away from Millennium Park, and right downtown in the Loop.  As soon as we got to the hotel, we were rushed into their gym/spa for a photo shoot.  Afterwards, we headed up to our room for showers and then right back out for dinner.  We were originally going to have tonight off.  The people from our friendship visit weren’t responding to Geoff’s calls but yesterday they called the Push office and said they were ready for us.  So much for a whole night off in Chicago.  We ended up having to get gas before we had to leave and my navigation skills around the loop saved the day.  Once we got back on the road, we hit traffic.  It took forever to get out to the friendship visit, one that we didn’t really want to go to, but had to.  It actually really took a toll on my knees.  I’ve been feeling that they have been strained from all the cycling for a couple weeks now and sitting in a car where I can’t stretch them out for long periods of time makes my knees really tight to the point where they really hurt.  Once we actually were there, I had a great time.  We fit in really well and even the person who organized us coming said that every year we act like we are family because we just spread out and talk to everyone.  After some more amazing Chicago style pizza for dinner, we headed back to town.

We headed out to Wrigleyville for the night.  On the ride out it poured and I feared that this could turn into a very wet night for us but by the time we got off the L, it was barely raining.  There was a minor league game at Wrigley that had just ended and everyone was soaking wet as we passed them.  We started bar hopping around and at our second bar, on the way in, Bobby was talking to this girl.  When she asked why we were in town for only 2 days he said that we were cycling across the country.  She replied, “Oh ok, now what’s the real story.”  It was really funny and we showed her our tan lines and RoadID’s as proof.  We bar hopped all over the place as we met up with more of the guys.  To end the night, I fell asleep on the L just like I had done a few times 2 years ago.  Oh it is so good to be back in Chicago.

Day 48 - July 28th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI - 0 miles

We knew coming into today that it was going to be insane.  Our first “day off” in almost 2 weeks but was the busiest day we’ve had programming wise.  We started off by heading over to Independence First for our breakfast.  Following that, we went to a school and performed a KOB show for which I was Melody again, then back to Independence First for an advocacy event, then to a friendship visit at a camp.  Once we finished up at the camp we headed to the ice rink. 

This trip has forced me to not even step foot into an ice rink for probably the longest amount of time in the past 21 years.  It felt really good to be back in my second home.  We were at an Olympic training rink and there were some summer camps going on bringing back good memories and one of the new treadmills used to ice skate on.  I really want to try one of those someday.  I headed out onto the ice in my shoes first and shot the puck around a little with the small sticks we had until I had to go get my wheelchair.  The next 2 hours were just pure fun. We started off with mixed teams and I got my first wheelchair hockey goal pretty early on.  We eventually switched it up to the 6 athletes against 15 of the JOH guys.  It was mayhem on the ice and the athletes went up quickly 2-0. I decided I would be better used on defense and spent the rest of the game back there with the only other goal the athletes scoring coming when I rushed a little bit into the offensive zone.  We ended up winning I guess, if you call a 15 against 6 game seriously, but it was pretty close. 

Drew’s parents drove up from Chicago with some Chicago style pizza which we had before we headed to the Brewers-Cubs game.  Not only was this a huge rivalry, but it was for first in the division and CC Sabathia was pitching for the Brewers.  We got to the game at the beginning of the 3rd inning and the stadium was nuts.  Being from Pittsburgh, I’ve never really known what it’s like to have a good baseball team, but the atmosphere was electric.  We saw a couple home runs and the Mascot slid down the slide they have in the stadium as fireworks shot off.  Geoff told us we had to leave in the 8th inning with the game tied at 4.  This pissed a bunch of the guys off, including myself.  We have an early wake up tomorrow and they want us to get some sleep, but the game was sponsored by Steve’s dad and if I was a sponsor and knew that the team only got to see 5 out of 9 innings and neither the beginning or the end, I would be pissed too.  The Cubs ended up winning 6-4 which we heard on the radio as we were passing the stadium.  It was a really bad way to end an awesome day.  Chi-town tomorrow though.  Can’t wait!!!

Day 47 - July 27th, 2008 - Milwaukee, WI - 19 miles


Today was a pretty awesome day; it certainly started off well with Geoff sleeping through his alarm.  The whole team got an extra 30 minutes of sleep and was woken up by the lovely ladies that made us an amazing home cooked breakfast.  We had to be out of the church quickly as it was Sunday, and while we were waiting outside, we entertained ourselves by trying to pick up water bottles and credit cards off the ground from our bikes since some of the crew members were practicing for their ride-a-longs.  We weren’t getting on our bikes quite yet, but a couple of the guys rode tandem bike with some blind people.  During this time, I tried to catch some more shut eye on a very uncomfortable wooden bench. 

Once we actually hit the road we only made it 2.5 miles until we were red flaged.  When the 3rd group rolled in next, we knew the 2nd group was lost.  We then had to wait over 30 minutes for them to find us and thought we were in threat of being racked on a 14 mile day.  Geoff wouldn’t let that happen though as he told Che, our crew chief, that we were going to make today at all costs since we haven’t made a day in basically the past week.  After some more missed turns and me being very pissed off, we finally made it to stage up. 

Once we arrived, I was able to get into a wheel chair basketball game.  Wheelchair basketball gets quite competitive and is a lot of fun.  I just wish we got to play it more.  Our friendship visit was short and sweet as we had to go to lodging for showers, but we would meet up with this group again tomorrow for wheel chair ice hockey.
Geoff had a little surprise for us for dinner as a family of a Pi Alpha had us over to their lake house for dinner.  Unfortunately because of all the flooding, there was a no wake zone for the whole lake.  We did get to go out on their boat for a little and tour the lake a little bit.  The houses here put our lake house to shame.  Some were just gigantic. 

Afterward we hit up downtown Milwaukee as Bobby’s cousin came and picked us up in his family’s minivan.  We managed to fit 11 people in the minivan and bar hopped a little once downtown.  It was Sunday so not too many people were out but still a lot of fun.  I’ve been looking forward to tomorrow since San Francisco.  I can’t wait to actually be in an ice rink again.

Day 46 - July 26th, 2008 - Waukesha, WI - 97 miles (67 cycled)


Team slow day assemble.  Today was going to be our last hard day until after Chicago basically.  It was supposed to be around 75 miles but as the trend has been going lately, there were roads closed and detours that tacked on extra mileage.  We didn’t allow for all the extra mileage in our schedule so we had to rack yet again today to make time.  We did get roughly 65 miles in today which was good.  The first 40 everyone was hurting and we all decided it was going to be a slow day even though we were the first group for most of the day.  We hit our first head wind in a while today and that slowed us down even more.  Joe decided to pull for 33 miles today which was surprising but fine with me since I was at the back of the pace line.  After mile 40 I felt a lot better on the bike and everyone else did too.  I think it helped that we had some nice and smooth, tree covered back roads to ride on that we could kind of goof off and have a good time. 

After racking to stage up, we arrived at a restaurant called Culver’s which was amazing.  We had cheese steaks and some mini cheese stick things that were absolutely delicious.  To top it off we had custered for desert.  Lodging is in the gym of a Lutheran church tonight and directly after showers, Geoff took us over to one of his chapter brother’s house to relax.  His family had to be loaded as they had a full size soccer net in their back yard, and a 73 inch tv downstairs.  Funny thing about the tv is that they were going to get a 62 inch one but it wouldn’t fit down the stairs.  The 73 inch tv did however because it came in 2 pieces.  I guess you can’t complain too much about that, haha.  A bunch of the guys took their computers over, did laundry, played video games, etc while we were over there until we headed out to our friendship visit at a bowling alley. 

We met up with a bunch of people with Spina Bifida at the bowling alley.  Adam, Joe and I were on a lane together and I couldn’t seem to have much luck tonight.  There was just too much oil on the lanes for the way I like to spin the ball.  As for the end of the night, most of the guys, surprisingly, stay in. tomorrow we only have about 15 miles and I thought more guys would have gone out.  I’m not complaining though, I need to save my money for Chicago and it allowed me to update my photos.

Day 45 - July 25th, 2008 - Rockford, IL - 110 miles (60 cycled)


Police escort?  We really need a day off.  Even though we’ve had those few day where we were racked and had short rides, our body’s are still feeling the effects of not having a day off since Grand Rapids, Nebraska.  We hit the steepest and longest grades since the Rockies today which really surprised everyone.  Who knew that Illinois was this hilly?  Glenn and I volunteered to sweep on what is supposed to be our last century ride of the trip which was our first mistake.  My legs just didn’t want to move today and Glenn’s were worse.  We caught up with the back group a couple times at crew stops and as we crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois, but somehow we fell behind after about mile 40.  We ended up having to rack up to lunch around mile 51 and got back to on the road after that for only 8 more miles.  The front group was pulled over by the cops because in the past year, they have enforced a minimum speed limit of 45 mph and we certainly didn’t weren’t going that fast.  The cop said he could give us all the $75 fine and meet his quota for the next 2 weeks, but he understood and we had the vans come and rack us up.  It turned out to be the best thing since we racked all the way to stage up so we could arrive on time.  Even if we would have kept cycling, the road ahead was closed s we would have racked in a few miles anyways. 

We get to stay in a hotel tonight and had a great pasta dinner by the owner, George, of the Saturn dealership that we arrived to.  Most of the guys are planning on staying in and hitting up the pool/relaxing.  Some of the team that didn’t see the Batman movie a few days ago are seeing it tonight.

All my dad’s side of the family is down in Raleigh for my cousin Katie’s wedding.  Too bad I’m missing out on all the family shenanigans that will be going on down there, but I’ll have a few drinks tomorrow for you and I will probably have to deal with a bunch of phone calls from the wedding tomorrow too.  Congrats Kate and Billy.

Day 44 - July 24th, 2008 - Dubuque, IA- 80 miles


The ride on our last real day in Iowa sort of summed up the past 8 days in this state…they hurt.  Today’s rolling hills were longer and more sustained than those towards the western side of the state and boy did the take a toll on my legs.  All three pace lines today were hauling ass today.  We were averaging around 20 mph even with those long climbs and that is why my legs felt like rubber at the end.  It was an ok ride though.  It started off with Drew, Che, and I not setting an alarm and missing breakfast.  Geoff’s phone call to Che was our alarm and even then, Drew and I didn’t even realize we were late.  I was really confused when I walked out to take my bike down and saw everyone circled up.   Once we got on the road, we did 20 mile intervals between crew stops which ended up that we gave Mason no love and skipped all of his.  My lower back was really stiff and hurt all day making the ride that much harder.  I think it had something to do with the bed at the hotel last night because it hasn’t been close to that bad this whole trip. We got to stage up so quick that we surprised Geoff and he actually had them move up our arrival time. 

After lunch at the camp, we headed out to the Field of Dreams.  It was actually a little disappointing, but still really awesome.  The movie is such a good one that I probably had some high expectation.  We brought a couple bats and balls and most of the guys took a few swings on the field.  There were actually a lot of people out there, surprisingly, at 2:30 on a Thursday afternoon but it was some nice downtime after a hard day on the bike.

Dinner was back at the camp and afterwards there was a dance party.  Once again it was awesome as everyone had a great time.  The best part was talking to Jason, who has CP and communicates through a computer.  It was awesome to see how quickly he could use that to communicate to us and the questions he asked.  He was so happy when we were dancing with him you couldn’t help but smile.  After tomorrows ride, which is going to be a rough one at 110 miles, we should have a pretty exciting 5 days with Milwaukee, Chicago, and South Bend, Indiana.  Wheelchair ice hockey is only 3 days away…wooooo.

Day 43 - July 23rd, 2008 - Davenport, IA- ??? miles (30 cycled)


More damage from the floods caused today to be a nice and easy day.  The day started out pretty well.  We were cruising a long only to be red flagged.  We had to turn around and were told we were going to be racked in a mile for about 15 miles.  Well it ended up being that we were racked all the way to stage up because a major bridge had been take out by the floods and there was no way to get to stage up other than to take the interstate.  We arrived at stage up 2 hours early which allowed me time to take apart my bike and clean the front and rear cassette and the front and rear derailleur.  We had a police escort to the Econolodge we were staying at where Jason’s mom surprised him since it was his birthday. 

After an awesome pizza lunch at Happy Joe’s,  I was finally able to get to a Walmart to get a new camera.  The past couple days, the number of pictures I have been taking has dwindled because of the problems with mine so hopefully more pictures will be on the way soon. 

Dinner and our friendship visit was at a community pool.  We all had a great time and a very intense game of volleyball went on.  The final score ended up being 17-15 our team.  Mason and Lewris talked the most smack but made crucial errors down the line that cost their team the game.

After dinner I just relaxed in the hotel room catching up and organizing things.  We have a 4:45 a.m. wake up tomorrow so there was no way I was going out.  It’s a pretty long ride at 80 some miles tomorrow, but we do get to see the actual Field of Dreams from the movie tomorrow.  Everyone is pretty excited about that.  Tomorrow is our last full day in Iowa too.  23 day left.

Day 42 - July 22nd, 2008 - Iowa City, IA- 44 miles (29 cycled)


What a day.  It started off great as John, Joe, and I went to the CBS studio’s and did our live interview on the local morning news.  Once we actually started riding today though, a lot of things went wrong.  Today was going to be a nice short day but the crew decided to make it longer for us by somehow not knowing the directions to where we were going.  Only 5 miles into the trip, we wasted a lot of time at a red flag and eventually had to turn around because one of the crew vans missed a turn.  Not even 20 miles later we were red flagged again while we waited for the vans to start marking turns.  Somehow they got lost and we had to be racked.  Once we racked we were still lost in trying to find our way to stage up.  

The ride itself was a good one.  We saw a lot of the flood damage in the towns which was pretty cool to see but also sad to see.  The streets are lined with gutted building materials and some buildings have already been torn down.  We had a police escort to the Old Capitol building in Iowa City.  Our lodging for tonight was actually damaged in the flood so the Theta Theta Pi Kapp Chapter at Iowa has taken us in for the night.  They’ve been great hosts so far providing us with lodging, food, and our first JOH t-shirts of the ride. 

On the way from the Old Capitol to the Pi Kapp house though we all got lost again.  Our group, the front group, heard Monkman say turn right after the bridge where none of the other groups did.  We separated and our group thought we were lost and asked for directions.  Those directions brought us back to the other groups but still we were all lost.  The vans somehow found us but they were lost too.  By this time, all the cyclists were pretty annoyed and we really just wanted to go find our way to the house since the crew couldn’t.  Mason sent us off back down from where the other groups had come and we eventually found the turn we miss after we made the right after the bridge. 

When on our way up to the house, I saw a building I recognized.  It was the Iowa Arts Building built by Steven Holl.  A great building that has been in a lot of magazines and was directly in the line of the floods.  I went down after shower to look at it and take pictures.  The entire first floor was gutted and the rust paneling on the side showed where the water level was.  It was above the door sills, so at least 7 feet of water was on the first floor.  It’s an awesome looking building though.  It uses Channel Glass which we incorporated into one of our projects while I was interning at The Design Alliance and we actually showed it as a precedent.  I just wish I was able to walk through it.  The damage from the floods has been quite extensive though.  We have seen massive sink holes, the collapsed bridge, etc.  I was able to talk to the president of the University of Iowa today and they said they had about 20 buildings on campus that had extensive damage and that they were really worried and frantically working to get everything back to normal by the fall semester.

We had dinner and a friendship visit where a bunch of us made necklaces or had necklaces made for us.  After we came back and a bunch of us went to get milkshakes which is kind of a tradition on JOH.  Most of the people called it a night and stayed in to watch a movie.  Tomorrow  is Jason’s 21st birthday so some people went out.  5:30 a.m. wake up tomorrow so I’m turning in early and getting some much needed sleep.

Day 41 - July 21st, 2008 - Cedar Rapids, IA- 85 miles (74 cycled)


Today’s ride is much of a blur.  We started out on a highway which we were going to take the whole way to Cedar Rapids, but Geoff decided that there was a safer route that added about 15 miles onto our 70 mile day.  It we pretty scenic at first with some rolling hills and then we started hitting the flood areas.  Iowa was hit but some pretty massive floods about a month ago and we were heading to one of the towns that was hit the hardest.  Along the ride we could see multiple areas that had marsh-like standing water.  Some of the houses looked a little worse for wear, but not so much that if you didn’t know there was a flood that you wouldn’t think anything of it.  It wasn’t until later in the day that we actually saw the real damage. 

We ended up having to rack around mile 72 because we were behind schedule with the added mileage.  We had probably the quickest stage up in history and arrived at a little park fashionably late.  After some quick speeches, a proclamation of Push America Day by the mayor, and some music, we headed over to an elementary school.  There, we put on a very quick KOB show.  I was actually in today’s show with only one actual practice under my belt, I did pretty well.  Started off a little fast, but slowed down when I got more comfortable with it.  After a picture we were off to lodging but only for a second.  We changed out of our uniforms without showering and headed back down to the park for dinner.  It was around this time that we found out that a second team member, Adam Chartran was being sent home for some things he did in Ames as well.  We also found out that one of the South team members was kicked off and his buddy followed him and left the team.  In fact, all 4 guys were from Iowa State and that dropped their count from 10 people to 6 on JOH.

After dinner, we headed downtown to see the real damage of the flood.  As we approached, we could see the river and still how massively wide it was.  There was still standing water on the tracks of a rail yard and a bunch of the businesses downtown were all boarded up and had big air vacs hooked up to them.  The public library looked empty as all the books were probably ruined.  On some of the boards people wrote, “Bent but not Broken”, “We Survive”, and “We’re Back”.  Not everyone is back yet though, most of the town and still a ghost town and somewhere around 28,000 people are still without their houses.  The water was so high (over 30 feet) that it covered bridges and actually collapsed one with a train on it that we stopped and took pictures of.  It was pretty unfathomable to think the water was actually covering the bridge we were standing on to take pictures, but it was.  The river was still moving really fast too and was still high. 

After seeing downtown we went to Wal-mart where I was going to buy a new camera since mine is on life support, but there were all out of the cheapest one I wanted.  Hopefully I can get one tomorrow.  Once back at lodging, I cleaned up the frame of my bike sine Ehrecke, Gartner, and I are going to be on a local CBS morning show tomorrow doing a live interview.  I’m pretty excited about it so we’ll see how it goes.  We do have to wake up earlier than everyone else but tomorrow is a short 30 some mile ride which will be nice.

Day 40 - July 20th, 2008 - Marshalltown, IA- 49 miles


The worst day ever, and not just physically, but emotionally as well.  We woke up this morning and were told that Dave was our running errands.  Little did we know that Dave, after making it back to lodging last night, passed out in the bathroom where a janitor found him and called the police.  Dave ended up in jail and we had to go on with our day without him.  Everyone had a rough day from the night before and we didn’t really say much while we were on the bike.  When we hit crew stops we all talked about what we thought was going to happen to Dave.  Everything from him being able to stay on the trip with basically no freedoms, to him being dismissed, and possibly replaced by someone from the Push office or by a cyclist.  We wouldn’t find out until later.

After getting to lodging, we cycled around and had bike wars in a parking lot where we squirted each other with water bottles and where Bobby threw a full one and Masterson, nailing him and knocking the wind out of him.  A quick crew lunch with some specials including chocolate milk and popsicles, we headed to Walmart.  While we were there, Geoff went and picked up Dave to bring him back to the team. 

It wasn’t until after a nap that we saw Dave.  He was obviously very upset and was probably having the worst day of his life.  He addressed the team, teary eyed, and most of the cyclist shed some tears when he told us that he was going home.  A bunch of the team told Dave how they felt about him in the circle up.  Dave Knavel, our project manager, mom, dad, boss, friend, and brother was going home.  He was the last person any of us expected this to happen to.   For Dave this was especially hard since he had an internship with Push and was looking to get a full time job there after this summer.  Now they said they don’t even want him in D.C. when we arrive.  To me, Dave meant a lot.  He is one of the best people I’ve met and just the way that he gained all of our respect and kept it the entire trip is amazing.  He was always on top of things, always the first one up in the mornings, would set everything up for us upon arrival to our destination, etc.   It’s hard to think Push America wouldn’t want Dave because of one mistake, one misfortune, because you don’t always find people like him.  Every one of us went up to him individually, hugged him and said our goodbyes.  We lost a big part of our team today.  The rest of the day had a somber feeling and it won’t be the same team without Dave leading us. 

After a friendship visit to the bowling alley, Geoff had a team meeting to discuss some more things about our current situation.  He suggested that we go see the Batman movie tonight because it would help to take our minds off of everything today and that we should have a little fun.  The movie is awesome and definitely worth seeing.  Heath Ledger put on one of his best performances.  There’s not really any way to describe it except that it lives up to the hype.

Day 39 - July 19th, 2008 - Ames, IA- 79 miles


Hello college.  With the roads flattening out and our pace line name Team Slow Day, we took it nice and easy.  The first pace lines were red flagged a lot but that wasn’t our fault, we were always a few miles ahead of the sweeps and as soon as they would roll up to a stop we were at, we would leave.  Our view included corn, more corn, cows, more cows, and some more corn.  Our destination was Ames, IA where Iowa State University is located.  It was so nice riding through a college town.  It’s a lot different than Virginia Tech, but still had that feeling that I love.  We have three guys on our team from Iowa State and they put on a big feast for us.  We had an arrival to our friendship visit in a park where we had hamburgers and hotdogs for lunch.  We then headed back to lodging.  Team Slow Day decided to try and beat the Iowa State boys back to lodging.  In the process we missed a turn where a sandwich board was hidden behind a tree.  About 2 miles later, Geoff caught up with us in a van to tell us we had missed the turn.  So much for that plan.  We headed over to the Pi Kapp house at ISU which was amazing; definitely one of the best and biggest Pi Kapp houses that I’ve been in. We took showers and did laundry there and headed back to lodging which was at the student union.  We had a team meeting where Dave, an ISU alum, addressed the team about tonight since it was a big party night and told us to just be smart and to not make any bad decisions.  On our walk over to their house, the rain just started pounding us.  It has been crazy how it never seems to really rain when we are cycling, but when we aren’t, all bets are off with the weather.

Once over at their house, we partied the night away.  Glenn, a music studies major with an emphasis in Jazz percussion put on two amazing drum shows in their basement for which people went wild for.  Bobby and Chris ran shop on one of the 6 beer pong tables set up, and we got some dirt on Dave from his fraternity brothers who were there for the summer.  Good thing tomorrow is an easy 50 mile ride.

Day 38 - July 18th, 2008 - Winterset, IA- 65 miles


Iowa is not flat.  The ride is mostly a blur today.  Rolling hills the entire 65 miles and for some reason a bunch of the guys decided to race which meant I needed to race and that killed my legs.  I told my dad on the phone tonight that I would much rather ride through the Rocky Mountains than do all these rolling hills.  It just helps when you can get into a rhythm and keep that rhythm constant.  The weather was overcast which was the best thing possible because I would have died if it was hot.  It actually started raining about the last 10 miles of the ride.  We finished the 65 miles before noon though which was awesome and didn’t have programming until our sponsored dinner. 

Lunch was sponsored by a Pi Alpha from Iowa State University and was the most creative thing ever done with a Doritos bag.  It’s called a walking taco and basically you cut the side of the Doritos bag and put your taco meat, lettuce, cheese, etc in the bag and it essentially becomes a taco salad.  It was amazing and all the Midwest guys knew about them but no one else did.

We had a lot of down time after lunch and screwed around on the internet and slept.  Dinner was held by the rotary club and we had some amazing lasagna.  We are in Winterset, IA which is the birth place of John Wayne, so after dinner we went and saw his house and the city park where there was a castle like structure and maze made of bushes which is the Rotary Clubs project.  We are also in Madison County, home to the Bridges of Madison County.  The book and movie are based here and we saw 2 of the covered bridges which were pretty cool.  We head to Iowa State tomorrow in Ames and it is supposedly flatter than today which is good since there are 20 extra miles.  Hopefully it won’t be too bad.

Day 37 - July 17th, 2008 - Griswold, IA- 65 miles


Today was a little bit of a rough morning after a late, but well worth it, night last night.  We decided last night that our pace line would consist of the6 guys that were out at Upstream last night and we would suffer through today’s ride together.  We all got up and just laughed with each other about all the shenanigan that occurred last night and told stories about them to each other.  Just as Geoff said “alright guys, let’s get ready to go”, Taylor’s tire blows out while he was laying down in the grass.  It was perfect timing and was so hilarious, but that is probably the worst way for him to start the day.  The first 20 miles or so was city riding and we got buzzed a few times by cars.  I nearly was hit when Tripp slowed down and I went half left on him to avoid hitting him or slamming on the brakes and I came inches away from a car hitting me.  It was certainly one of the scarier moments on the trip for me.  We all ran out of water and didn’t hit the first crew stop until mile 18.  We were already dehydrated from last night and the lack of water didn’t help, but we sweated out all the alcohol in the first 20 miles too.  Those first 20 miles weren’t bad at all thought because we continued to just laugh about last night and keep ourselves entertained.  It wasn’t until later the ride got painful

The landscape changed dramatically the moment we first entered Iowa.  Rolling hills are the devil and what was supposed to be only a 50 some mile day was actually a 65 mile day due to a change in the route.  We all made it into lodging though and after a freezing cold shower and a little nap, headed out to a rock quarry for dinner and some down time.  The quarry was awesome with a rope swing and volley ball court.  The water was the perfect temperature and was exactly what we needed.  It was a lot of fun to just hang out with the guys and not really have to worry about much or just be sitting around on Pi Kapp time. 

Storms are rolling in tonight so hopefully it will cool down outside since we are sleeping in a cabin without air conditioning.  Maybe they will even continue into tomorrow.  Everyone is staying in tonight since Griswold isn’t really that big of a town.  The end seems so far away but close too. 

Day 36 - July 16th, 2008 - Omaha, NE- 49 miles


Not really much to talk about with today’s ride.  There was a threat of rain early on but it never came.  Dave let us sleep in an extra 30 minutes because of the rain which was awesome.  The big thing about today’s ride is that we were the first pace line for most of the day until Glenn, not even a tenth of a mile away, got a flat and we fell to the last pace line.  We had an arrival at a Saturn dealership which is where lunch was also.  After getting back to lodging, I passed out for a good 2 hours until our friendship visit/dinner.  The friendship visit was a pool party with a local guitar player outside at the beginning.  It was a great as I mostly played pool basketball with a bunch of people.  Our time in the pool was short, only 45 minutes, but it was nice and refreshing.

As soon as we got back to lodging, we changed and headed out.  Bobby had a friend from college in Omaha and she and her friends picked us up and took us to a micro brew call upstream.  It was an awesome bar with some great drinks.  The scotch ale was my favorite drink and all their house beers were only $2.50 so it was easy on the bank account too.  Plenty of good stories came out of tonight but I’ll keep those to myself.

Day 35 - July 15th, 2008 - Lincoln, NE- 98 miles (82 cycled)


Ugh…Today was a miserable day.  We started off with a 4:30 am wake up and after breakfast, we sat around for 30 minutes before circle up.  I fell asleep while leaning up against a plant potter for the 30 minutes.  At circle up we found out that we would be sitting around waiting for some storms a few miles away to pass.  We ended up moving into a big open area in the hotel and all of us passed out on chairs for an hour.  Once we finally got started, my body ended up struggling for most of the day.  I had my first of 3 flats sometime around mile 40.  And we ended up being racked 14 miles to lunch at around mile 52 even though we were the first pace line.  Lunch was a Chipotle burrito which would hurt more than anything once we were hurried back on the bike after stuffing our face.  The rest of the ride was painful.  It got up over 100 degrees and we had some headwind.  I had another flat and had no shade to change it in.  Once we finally made it to stage up I had my 3rd flat of the day and was able to change it before the arrival. 

Our lodging is at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house on Nebraska’s campus.  It is absolutely huge and does not seem like a fraternity house.  It is a dry campus so that is how they are able to keep it so nice.  Dinner was with Sertoma Club which was an amazing pot luck in a park and then we went straight to a friendship visit dance party.  I barely had any energy to dance and kept yawning most of the time, but it was still fun.  The best part is seeing the people smile anyways.  I can’t wait to pass out though.  Some of the guys just rolled out to go to the bars and a big storm also just hit.  I think I’ll get my sleep.  We have a 5 a.m. wake up tomorrow so I’d like to get as much sleep as possible.

Day 34 - July 14th, 2008 - Grand Island, NE- 0 miles

The ladies of Grand Island are amazing.  We started off with breakfast at Arby’s today which one of their husbands owns.  After a short friendship visit at a local elementary school, we went to Ash Park which is a no boundaries park.  The park has been the Grand Island ladies baby for years now and today was special.  Build America spent last week working on fixing up and installing new equipment and today was the “opening” of the new area of the park.  There were Pi Kapp symbols throughout the park and one of the trees that is growing is dedicated to Jason Tirado, a Pi Alpha that died a few years ago.  All the new equipment was donated by a Pi Kapp that the ladies ran into by chance.  When they were looking for equipment to buy for the park, the magazine they choose was from the company that this Pi Kapp owned.  You might call it coincidence; by they feel like there is more behind it.

We had another friendship visit at the park and lunch.  Afterwards we headed back to the hotel and a few of us made bike shop runs.  I had my rear derailleur fixed and adjusted, my tire trued, and my brakes adjusted.

For dinner we headed back to the park where it seemed like the whole community was there.  We had a KOB show and just a great time on a great day.  We sang the rose to the ladies and gave them roses at the end of the day at the park.  The ladies still had yet another surprise for us when we got back to lodging though.  They showed us a slide show of picture from the past 2 days and also one of the past 16 years or so.  It sort of brought things to light about how long we’ve been with them, and them with us, and just how much work we have done in their community.  We presented them with picture frames that held 4 pictures; 2 were signed pieces of paper and the other were picture from our trip.  The water works had started before this but you could see how much it meant to them and to us.  It was really touching and what we are doing this summer is starting to set in a little.  It’s going to be sad to leave Grand Island; it has been great to us.  There is a chance for rain tomorrow which would be great.  I could use another short day on the bike.

Day 33 - July 13th, 2008 - Grand Island, NE- 52 miles


Strawberry Corn fields forever.  Today was a great ride; a little chilly in the morning, flat, smooth roads, and no wind.  We were able to cruise at 20-23 mph pretty easily and only stopped at 2 crew stops which were both red flags.  I was in the first pace line and we finished about an hour ahead of everyone else which is a pretty big gap.  We followed a railroad line that is one of the busiest stretches in America.  Lots of grain needs to be moved from these parts and a lot of the small towns we pass seem like they are solely there because of a grain elevator by the railroad tracks..  It actually kept us pretty occupied on the bikes watching and racing the trains.  There was a huge 6 locomotive train that we kept up with for a while and actually caught back up to right as we were entering town because it had stopped.  Lee and I talked about just how weird it would have been back in the early days of the lines when there was even less out in Nebraska to look at and the construction of the railroads.  I can’t even fathom how much of a boring and painful job that must have been, but it was so crucial to the development of the United States.

We had a police escort into Grand Island (yes, apparently there was a big island in Nebraska sometime ago) today, and one of the police cars was a 7.5 liter police edition 2002 Camero.  He wouldn’t tell me the gas mileage on it, but did say that he had it up to 145mph a few times pretty easily.  The cop also showed us his taser, told us about their 2 dogs (the one, Tito, bites hard enough to break the skin even with someone wearing a bite suit for training so they had to get an extra protective layer under that), and was just all around an awesome guy.  The escort itself was along one and we were going really slow, stopping traffic and everything.  The day was proclaimed Push America day by the mayor and there were a bunch of signs greeting us all around town.

We get to stay in a hotel tonight…so stoked.  The ladies of Grand Island have been hyped up.  They have treated us like kings so far and many people from years pass still talk about them.  We had an amazing steak dinner with baked potatoes.  They had a pool table and a trampoline that we played around on till dinner.  After dinner I followed around one of the Sudanese girls they had adopted, Chudair.  I was playing music on Tripp’s phone and she fell in love with it walking around and handing it to everyone and then immediately asking for it back.  She was awesome.

Then we went to the wave pool…at 7:30 at night.  We didn’t get to have that much time there but we managed to hit all 6 water slides while we were there.  Glenn and I raced down 2 of them and tied every time.  The lifeguard couldn’t figure it out, haha, we were just that good at racing down water slides.

After the water park we went out since we have tomorrow off.  We started by getting some drinks at the local general store and sitting on the side of the building in polo’s, drinking them…real sketch.  We walked to a bar that was real close but was closing and we managed to talk one of the people working to drive us to another bar with karaoke across town.  The night was awesome.  We met a guy named Max from Scotland and bought us a couple rounds of shots and had an all around good time singing away.  At first when we walked in we got a bunch of weird stares, but after we told a bunch of people what we were doing they started having a good time with us and singing with us on stage.  The cab ride back we went through a McDonalds and Tripp ordered 12 double cheese burgers.  Hooray for the dollar menu and for days off.

Day 32 - July 12th, 2008 - Minden, NE- 96 miles


Well my dad sent me a text message today asking me how Nebraska was.  I replied, “It’s better than Nevada” and that’s about all I can say about it.  So far Nebraska has been a bunch of rolling hills which you would think would be easy considering we just came out of the Rockies, but the change of cadence and rhythm is just a pain.  At least we have cows and cornfields and trains to look at.  Today started off with a thunderstorm right after breakfast and we all came back inside the church we were staying at and took about an hour nap.  It was awesome to get that extra sleep, plus John serenaded us on the piano.  It had to be one of the best naps ever with the piano music in the background. After Dave interrupted our amazing sleep, we got on the road and had overcast and slightly chilly weather for most of the ride.  We spent a good part of the ride in a double pace line and the road for most of the way was very nice.  We played categories and 21 questions on the bike today which helped time fly by.  We had a little headwind most of the way but nothing that cause too many problems.  Tim had to leave our pace line and become a sweep after Adam may have possibly totaled his bike when his chain snapped and somehow ripped his derailleur out…stripped the frame where it was attached, and bent the frame where it holds the axel.  It was really messed up.  Adam took over Bobby’s spot as the person to have to worst thing happen to their bike.  Bobby bent his big chain ring in half on the ride into Denver.  The bike shop guys said that they have never seen anything like it nor thought that it could ever happen and that is the only leverage Bobby has on Adam.

We had a special treat today when Che surprised us with a hot snack.  He had bought a bunch of hot dogs, wrapped them up in aluminum foil and put them in the engine while he drove and sat roadside.  It was definitely a welcome treat as it was our first hot roadside lunch/snack.  Add onto that that we had a Pizza Hut dinner and the food today was awesome. 

Some of the crew guys have started training for their ride-a-long days.  Each crew member gets one day where they get to borrow someone’s bike and cycle.  It should be pretty hilarious as some of them have already said that even just clipping into a bike is a lot harder than they would have thought.  Mason is preparing to do a century ride in the next 2 weeks so it should be fun to see how he does with that and how much he will be hurting after that.  Only 65 miles tomorrow…it’s a miracle.

Day 31 - July 11th, 2008 - McCook, NE- 95 miles


Today’s 95 mile ride was a hot one.  We topped the 100 degree mark today at 108 when we cycled into McCook, Nebraska.  We finally left Colorado today and along the way we made a quick stop and said hi to Kansas since it was only a mile away from us at one point.  It was a great ride today for me for the most part.  A lot of the guys said it was miserable because of the heat but I didn’t mind it so much.  My legs felt good, my ankle felt good, my ass felt good.  Lower back started to hurt a little toward the end of the ride but today was more of a case of being able to deal with the heat and staying hydrated.  At the end most of the guys were taking down 2 water bottles at crew stops and then filling them back up and drinking them down over the next 10 mile till the next crew stop.

We hit some rolling hills, so I guess Nebraska isn’t all flat which is good but there were no sustained climbs.  We had no wind or a tail wind for most of the ride until the end when we hit a little head wind which wasn’t that bad since the breeze felt better than nothing at all.  The day started off with us being chased by a dog early on, acting like reporter/interviewers on the bike, and some singing to each other.  It all helps to pass the time and the first 50 miles went by pretty easily.  We had to rack for a little while because of construction and then had lunch once we unracked.  I would have much rather of gone 10 more miles and had lunch just because that would have been less to do after lunch but more guys wanted to eat before that.

I was saying on the bike today of how I hoped we would have spaghetti for dinner because we haven’t had it for some time and sure enough, the church we were staying at made us some awesome lasagna.  A lot of the guys have been craving Chinese too because we haven’t had that yet.  I might have to make a trip out in Grand Island in a few days to satisfy that craving.  We had a quick Wal-mart run tonight where I bought a pair of temporary sandals because mine broke today.  Wal-mart sandals are by no means as comfortable as my Reef’s were but they will have to make due for now.  All the guys played a joke on Dave by doing a $1 gift for him.  People got him protractors, lotion, and just a bunch of ridiculous stuff that he won’t ever use on JOH but it was well worth the laugh.  We also had a tire changing contest tonight after the Wal-mart run.  Bobby narrowly beat out Tim to become the champion of the broken “golden” tire pump.  I didn’t do too bad and finished probably somewhere around 6th and beat the 5 minute time limit easily.

Some of the guys have also started to get irritated a lot more easily just because we have had 3 straight days of 90+ miles and heat to go with it.  We have our 4th straight 90+ mile ride tomorrow then a shorter ride into Grand Island where we have a day off which is probably needed again already.  Tomorrow is supposed to be in the 80’s so hopefully that holds up and tomorrow is a nice day without heat.

Day 30 - July 10th, 2008 - Wray, CO- 87 miles


Not much to talk about today’s ride except that it was long and boring.  Eastern Colorado feels like Nevada where there is nothing around and you can see for miles and miles on end.  I had my first spill of the trip today though.  We were really bored while riding and were playing games on our bikes.  My front wheel ended up getting caught on Tripp’s rear wheel and it essentially launched me off my bike.  I was fairly lucky that we were close to the grass because my shoulder dug into the ground and my head slammed off the dirt.  The crash bent my rear derailleur which I will probably have to take to the next bike shop to see if they can fix it.  I bent it back and adjusted it enough at lunch to where it works fairly well, but I don’t want to ride for too long with it the way it is.  Everyone in our pace line was laughing at the crash though.  I hopped up real quick from and it and Joe was laughing so hard that he didn’t clip out of his bike and fell over.  Tripp, who is the king of flat tires, had another one today after he bought a $12 tire yesterday that is probably 20 years old.  He made a hilarious video of how to change a tire that included; always smile, wave to passing trucks, and to make sure your tire is filled to 100 psi, give the tire a good squeeze. 

Lodging is at a community center where we were able to use the hot tubs, saunas, and basketball courts.  It was a pretty relaxing night after a long team meeting.  Tomorrow we have another 90 mile ride into Nebraska…joy.

Day 29 - July 9th, 2008 - Fort Morgan, CO- 104 miles


Right turn, left turn, oops.  Today wasn’t supposed to be a century ride but it turned into one when we missed 2 turns.  The first one was partially our fault and partially Masons fault.  The second one was all Mason’s fault.  He wasn’t having a good day.  We left Denver and mountains today.  For the next month or so, basically until we get towards Pittsburgh, it will mostly be flat and boring with high winds.  Not really what I’m looking forward to.

Most everyone felt like they were going to fall asleep on the bike, me included.  You might not think that is possible, but it is. I personally didn’t want to leave Denver.  It was such a good time.  The right today was ok.  We had a cross wind for part of the way which turned into a tail wind when we turned, and back to a cross wind/ head wind when we turned back into it.  We basically made a bunch of 90 degree turns the whole way to Fort Morgan.  Toward the end of the ride, the most excitement we got was when we passed one of the big crop sprinklers that sprayed out into the road and cooled us off. 

After arriving into lodging we had some free time and went to Rite Aid to pick up some things, walked around the town a little, and took about an hour nap.  Dinner was at the local Elk’s lodge and the sloppy joe’s we had were absolutely delicious.  I caught up on some things afterwards including putting new rear brake pads on my bike.  The rain over the past few days kicked up a bunch of dirt and sand onto my rims which wore my brake pads down extremely fast.  The next couple days are all long days.  Not really looking forward to them.

Day 28 - July 8th, 2008 - Denver, CO- 0 miles

Our first true day off!  Even though we had a 9 am wake up, I still woke up at 7 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I guess that is what happens when you wake up at 5 and 5:30 most every day.  The continental breakfast was crucial and after a quick team meeting to basically check and make sure we were all alright and to make sure we didn’t sleep all day, we had the day to ourselves.  Brynn came and picked me up and we went over to the Columbine Memorial (where Brynn went to high school) before going to her house.  The memorial was really cool and brought on a lot of emotion.  The shootings at VT were really hard on us but I can’t even imagine being in high school and having that happen.  A community where parents know parents and their kids hang out all the time.  It just seems to me like it is something of a smaller community then Tech is and that the effects of something like that would be increased.  Littleton is a very beautiful town though and just like Tech, it seems hard to imagine anything like that would happen to a place like that.

Once we got to Brynn’s house, I met her mom and was able to throw some much needed laundry in.  We went out to lunch at Red Robin and afterwards came back and just hung out and relaxed.  I had to be back though for dinner at Bobby’s house and certainly wished I had more time to spend with Brynn and her family, but time is not something you have a lot of on JOH.

Dinner at Bobby’s was awesome too.  His parents are 100% Polish and cooked us a feast.  I had my first buffalo burger a few days ago and had my first sliced buffalo meat today.  It is supposed to be healthier than chicken and with some gravy sauce was really good.  It has a different taste than beef, and I still like beef better, but it was awesome to get to try it.  Bobby’s house was like a graduation party, friends and family were everywhere and there were slideshows of the pictures he had taken so far.  All the Colorado boys said it was surreal that they were home.  They were so excited to come to Denver but to leave so soon made it difficult too.  I can’t wait for Pittsburgh though.  At least when we leave the burgh, I will be returning in only a week.

Dinner took a while, but Brynn and Lauryn came and picked me up after I got back to the hotel and we went back to Brynn’s house where I got to meet her dad.  Her twin brother Logan, was the only family member I didn’t meet.  He should have come home from school to meet me, but I guess he felt like he wouldn’t live up to my expectations of him or something, haha.  After only a few more hours with Brynn, we had to say our goodbyes and my time in Denver was basically over.  I don’t want to leave, the past couple days have been the best on the trip so far.  Back to our early wake ups tomorrow with a 5:30 a.m. and a 90+ mile ride.

Day 27 - July 7th, 2008 - Denver, CO- 49 miles


Colorado hates us.  On what would have been a beautiful, short, and mostly downhill ride into Denver, the state of Colorado decided that we would have to earn our arrival today through 50 miles of rain.  It rained all the way up to our stage up point by Invesco Field and at the beginning of our arrival, but when we got to the state capitol building, there were nothing but blue skies.  It was an awesome day though.  Bruce Rodgers was in our pace line today so we got to find out more about him and his awesome life.  He is a certified badass, enough said.  I was excited enough to get to Denver that the rain didn’t really bother me.  It was kind of like a football game in the rain where even though you are freezing cold, shivering, etc, you are having the time of your life, but that could be because I was excited to get to Denver.  It sucks that it has rained for some of the most scenic rides in Colorado the past couple days.  I would love to ride it again when it’s nice outside.  We were all covered in mud and sand by the time we arrived and had to do the arrival without arm and leg warmers or any coats that we had on.

Our arrival today was the first time we had a police escort and it was amazing.  They stopped traffic on all the freeway exits and came flying past us to block more exits.  A lot of the people probably thought it had something to do with John McCain being in town until they see both the North and Trans Am teams come cycling by.  The rain stopped right when we got to the capitol building which was nice and Brynn, her sister Erin, and Moshier were waiting for me.  The arrival was short lived and we headed to our hotels where most of us took naps.

Our friendship visit was at Pedal for Pennies which KRG and Push sponsored and there was a 45 minute race with people with disabilities.  One of the guys was an awesome cyclist and Van Treese was teamed up with him and they put up something like 17 laps around the lake which was probably about 15 miles or so.  After dinner there was a little awards banquet and then we all danced for about an hour. 

Everyone went out tonight since we had a day off and all the overs headed out to Rock Bottom while the unders did their thing at someone’s house.  A bunch of the guys don’t remember most of the night and a bunch of us got in past curfew including Dave.  It was an awesome night that I got to spend with Linzi, Moshier, Brynn, and some of her friends.  We don’t have anything planned until 4 tomorrow.  A day of that is actually a day off!


Day 26 - July 6th, 2008 - Empire, CO- 45 miles


Hello Loveland Pass.   Although some of the toughest days of the trip are passed us, there was still Loveland pass to conquer before saying goodbye to the Rockies.  The ride started off well with a downhill from lodging.  After some easy flat riding, we started climbing and the group I was with included a guy named Mark, from KRG, who is just a beast on the bike.  He and 2 other guys quickly pulled away and Tim stayed with me as we climbed what I thought was the beginning of Loveland.  I started breathing heavy because I my legs were still cold.  After about 6 or 700 hundred feet we descended back to basically our starting elevation.  I would have much rather of just kept climbing.  Tim and I split ways eventually as he went with a different pace line and I joined C.J. and Paul, a 7 time Pi Alpha.  We climbed and climbed and eventually made it to the top.  There were some spectacular views along the way.  Just amazing.  We passed A-Basin along the way which my dad says is a really cool place to ski. Once we got to the top we stayed up there for over an hour waiting for the rest of the riders to get up and for everyone to take pictures.  I was actually one of the first ones to the top despite dropping back in the pace lines. 

We lined up to go double pace line down the other side of Loveland because it was steep, curvy, and had no guard rail for a good portion.  Once at the bottom we could feel it starting to rain and still had 10 miles left in our ride.  It was cold as hell at the top and on the way down and got freezing cold once the rain started.  The sky’s quickly opened up on us and we eventually stopped at a gas station where they didn’t like “our kind.”  I personally got kicked out after Joe said that he hadn’t heard one complaint from one customer and the guy said back well that is one too many to which I replied, “So zero is too many?”  The guy was just looking for a reason to throw us out and called me a smart ass.  I think he just didn’t go to school long enough to learn how to count.  We all started making fun of them and the local patrons even backed our sides.  Once we made it to lodging through more rain, I ended up spend the 2 hours or so of free time cleaning my bike and lubing it up with a bunch of the guys.  Big arrival tomorrow in Denver and I gotta make sure it looks nice.  Plus it was time I tuned it up a bit.

We had dinner and a friendship visit at Rocky Mountain Village where we are staying.  We got into camp groups and tonight was skit night.  Our team, Meadowbrook, were dressed as genies and had to dance to Genie in a Bottle.  It was an awesome time as we all looked ridiculous.

Tonight is another early night as we have another early wake up tomorrow.  Two days in Denver + two days with Brynn is going to be an awesome time.  I also get to see my old roommate, Moshier, and one of our rose petals, Linzi, who I haven’t seen in forever.  Can’t wait!

Day 25 - July 5th, 2008 - Breckenridge, CO- 111 miles (102 cycled)


Wooohooo, my first century ride!!!  Today was pretty interesting.  A bunch of KRG people (the company Bruce Rodgers is partners in) were riding with us and they all rode in our pace lines.  John and I rode with Wayne and Dustin for most of the ride.  Wayne is fairly new to cycling and last week he rode his longest ride at 40 miles.  What a great day to pick his first century.  We heard about Dusting before he even got here.  He is a machine on the bike and races every weekend.  I was pulling for roughly 5 miles at one point today and he came up and said “You don’t need to do all the work” and proceeded to pull the next 35 miles.

Rabbit Ears Pass today wasn’t bad at all.  I like a steady climb more than rolling hills anyways.  It is much easier to keep a steady cadence rather than change it all the time.  The first 60 miles were pretty nice.  I won’t say they were easy, but they were good.  Once we hit mile 60, we knew lunch was coming soon and my body had already started getting tired.  The next 10 miles to lunch were pretty painful just based on the fact that I was tired.  Lunch was sponsored and was amazing.  Definitely the best lunch yet.  After lunch, my body was still tired and I didn’t know how I was going to make it the next 40 miles.  We found a gas station where Wayne and I needed to lose some weight in the bathroom and after that I got my second wind.

We could see that there was a storm coming in and we saw a few lightning strikes.  The crew is supposed to rack us at the first sight of lightning, but we were so close to a century that we didn’t want to and hoped they didn’t see the strikes.  We came up on Che’s spot where he had a red flag up at mile 95.  I was sure he was racking us but he was just telling us to get on the bike path.  We had a little amount of time to get the next 5 miles in.  The bike path was so beautiful as it serpentined its way around a lake.  I could ride that part every day.  At mile 98.34 Geoff stopped us with a red flag and was talking on the phone with I think Dave discussing whether to rack us or let us go.  He said he knew what he wanted to do which was let us go and that’s what he did.  While it might not have been the best decision, it allowed me to reach my first century.  One of the ride alongs just ahead of Geoff said to pull in the parking lot cause it was storming ahead which I did reluctantly.  I was at 99.10 miles and started to do laps around the parking lot to reach 100.  The pace line behind us came up and apparently the ride along told them to tell us to keep going.  About a mile up the road we started to hit the storm.  It then began hailing and the lightning was really close.  After riding for a mile or so in the hail we pulled over and were going to run up into the woods to get out of the hail because we didn’t know where any of the vans were.  Luckily, a van was following us, racked us, and took us to lodging.

Dinner was sponsored by Bruce Rodgers and I got to sit down at his table and pick his brain.  He had lots of good stories including how he decided to ride across America.  He met a guy his freshman year at Florida State, before he transferred to Stetson, who had rode across the country and that kind of stuck in his head.  He finished college in 3 1/3 years and had a semester and a summer before law school so he decided to cycle across the country but wanted to do it for a good cause.  He contacted Push America and they basically said you are crazy.  He raised $2,000 and at that time that was the most ever raised by one person for Push.  Another story was how he met his wife.  Bruce was at a bar in Denver after a ride along with the Journey of Hope guys a few years after he did the journey.  The guys kept sending bazooka bubble gum comics over to the girls table where Sally was sitting at and on the back said wrote “from the guy in green”.  Bruce had no idea, but Sally ran into him when they both were leaving their respective bathrooms and said you must be the guy in green.  The hit it off and stayed at the bar while everyone else left even though Bruce already had a girlfriend.  Bruce broke up with that girl shortly after and she moved away to Oregon.  Before that though, Bruce and Sally were having dinner at a Mexican restaurant where he ran into his old girlfriend and claimed that as being a very awkward moment.

After dinner we came back to lodging and that was basically it.  All the guys are tired after today.  Loveland Pass is tomorrow as long as the weather holds up.  I hope it does, I want to complete it.  Early bed time tonight…6:30 wake up…wooo hooo

Day 24 - July 4th, 2008 - Steamboat Springs, CO- 41 miles


Only 40 miles today to get to Steamboat which is considered an easier day, perfect warm up to the ride over rabbit ears on our way to Breckenridge the next day.  I volunteered to sweep today with Max and we also had Bruce Rodgers and 2 Pi Alpha’s ride along with us.  We had a nasty head wind all 40 miles today.  It didn’t matter if you made a 90 degree right turn it always seemed to be directly in front of you.  We swept and joined up with the last pace line to help with the wind, but Joe racked pretty early on because his tube was mushrooming out of a hole in his tire, so it was just 4 of us to face the wind.  My body was more accepting of the bike today even though it still didn’t feel like riding.  Hopefully that changes by tomorrow. 

A bunch of the pace lines hurried up to make it into Steamboat for the parade and skipped some crew stops.  We stopped at all of them and made it on time.  The parade was pretty cool.  It was a short walk, nothing like the Canonsburg parade, but still good.  There were a lot of horses, a camel, and a rugby team that looked to be pretty liquored up.  After the parade we got to have lunch on our own and a few hours to walk around this beautiful town.  I had my first buffalo burger which was pretty good and filled me up.

At lodging, a bunch of the guys passed out once we got back while some made bike runs.  I updated my photos and took a quick nap while Adam got me 2 new tires.  I needed them pretty bad since I’ve been getting a bunch of flats the past couple of days.  We get a discount at most of the bike stores we go to and tell them what we are doing and I saved about $15 on my tires which is awesome. 

Dinner was sponsored by Tanner Bacon’s family at a place they rented.  Apparently they always come up to Steamboat for the 4th.  At the end of the night, most of the guys went to see a movie while some went to a hot spring and the rest of us stayed in.  I would have loved to of gone to the hot spring, but I have a little bit of a headache and had to put the new tires on my bike and just overall rest for tomorrow.  It’s going to be a pretty hard day, but most everyone says it’s not as bad as Kirkwood is on your way to Markleeville.  I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.

Day 23 - July 3rd, 2008 - Craig, CO- 89 miles


Ugh… my body clearly didn’t want to ride today.  I thought very early one that I was going to have to rack at some point in the ride today because I would either bonk or my body would just hurt too much.  The soreness in my legs and most of the other guys’ legs has gone away now.  Sure they are still a little sore but nothing compared to the first 2 weeks.  While I was stretching early on I could feel that my right groin was really tight.  I tried to spend a little extra time on it but that didn’t help much.  I could feel it early on and that is was going to give me a bit of a problem today.  Added on top of that I’ve felt like I’ve been starting to get saddle sores but have been doing a lot to combat that, but my butt today wasn’t really enjoying the saddle.  Add on top to that that my ankle still gets sore and some other things were sore/hurting it wasn’t going to be a very pleasant day to ride 88 miles.  I struggled on the bike as I felt sluggish most of the day and never got comfortable.  We had to stop right after the first crew stop as Joe blew out a tire.  We also found out that Adam saw his breakfast again at the first crew stop and Masterson saw his before he even got on the bike.  C.J. forgot to put his helmet on and started cycling only to realize it 100 feet later but it was too late, he was racked.  We were down 3 cyclist by the first crew stop and since C.J. was a sweep, and we were the last pace line due to Joe’s blow out, we lost a guy to go sweep so our pace line was down to 4 guys.  The ride was painful as I said before, one of the worst days on the bike so far and we had some pretty good climbs and stuff come our way.  I got another flat tire only 6 miles from the end but replaced that real quick only to have Tripp get a flat 2 miles from the end and he had to rack the rest of the way to Pizza Hut.  It was funny because the whole ride we had been joking around making the sound of a blown out tire screwing around with people and then Tripp has a perfect blown out tire.

Pizza Hut lunch buffet was amazing…whatever calories I may have burned during the ride I gained back there.  Since we were the last ones in we had to eat really quickly and go out for a picture and then off to the Boys and Girls Club.

This place is awesome…games everywhere, 8 foot basketball hoops that we can dunk on, etc.  We played around with the kids after showering.  They have a sweet game here called carpet ball which is just a big table with walls and you set up 5 pool balls on either side and then you take a cue ball and try to knock them off…first person to knock them off wins.  It was really addicting.  After a KOB show we had a few minutes of free time and then we headed out for dinner. 

I was still stuffed from Pizza Hut so I didn’t eat that much but it was good talking to some of the local people.  Apparently we will get to see elk, possibly mountain sheep, and maybe even a moose or two in the upcoming days.  Right now we are sitting at 6200 feet elevation.  Our top elevation is right around 12,000 which is Loveland pass on our way from Breckenridge to Empire.  Should be a great few days of climbing; let’s hope my body doesn’t continue to hate me.

Day 22 - July 2nd, 2008 - Dinosaur, CO- 92 miles


The first 40 miles of today were a breeze…literally…we pumped them out in under 2 hours which was awesome. That pace wouldn’t keep up though as Sam blew out a tire and had to rack to change them.  So much for us being first.  The ride was pretty good though.  A couple little climbs.  I was pretty exhausted after mile 80 and kept wondering where the Colorado border was.  We finally hit it and had only 3 miles left till lodging.  After dinner we had a team meeting to discuss this upcoming week.  It is a pretty big week; Tanner Bacon, who is from Push America Nationals, is coming out. Bruce Rodgers, who started the Journey of Hope, and a bunch of people from KRG Capitol, our main sponsor, are riding along with us.  And a handful of Pi Alphas are riding along with us as well.  It should be an awesome week, but it is going to be a long couple days.  I can’t wait for Denver.  I’m being told I need to do KOB practice right now so it is probably going to be an early night after that.  Pizza Hut buffet tomorrow…woooo

Day 21 - July 1st, 2008 - Duschene, UT- 106 miles (only 71 cycled)


The day of flats.  We woke up at 5 a.m. and left the condos.  Adam and I swept today so we had to stay at the back of the pack and couldn’t pass any riders.  Real early in the ride, Bobby had a flat and after changing it he got another one maybe a half a mile later.  He racked up and tried to ride again later after he checked his tires and tubes and still got another flat.  I had my first 2 flats of the trip today and the team all together probably had 20-25 flats, plus a couple of spills and other bike problems.  My second flat came on a downhill where I was going 30-35 miles/hour and had to scream to Adam, who was in front of me, to stop. 
The first 25 miles went by really fast and I thought this was going to be a great day, but after the 2 flats we hit a rode that looked like it was going downhill, but we were actually climbing.  I don’t know if it was the canyon walls or what but they were playing mind games on me and a bunch of the guys.  It felt like we were cycling through mud.
With all of the problems we had today most of the guys were racked to lunch and shortly after lunch everyone was racked to lodging because we were supposed to be at the lake by 3.  Todays day was an impossible one to finish.  They used charts from a few years ago that used a different, but more dangerous road to get to Duschene, UT.  They changed the route for safety reasons and didn’t really calculate in the extra 20 or 30 miles.
We got to the lake but couldn’t go boating because of a thunderstorm that was rolling in.  All I wanted to do was go tubing but no luck.  Dinner was held by the local Lion’s Club and was delicious as always.  The small town food is always the best.  Afterwards, they opened up the local bowling lanes and let us play for a while.  We had to keep score by hand and my first game was pretty good, but I couldn’t find my spot or the right ball and was fighting the lane the whole time I was playing.  5:30 wake up tomorrow… 5 more days till Denver…I can’t wait.


© Copyright Ryan Cole 2008