Getting to the West 

Day 34

North Platte, Nebraska 

We know it’s only the third of July, but the holiday wouldn’t be complete without a 4th themed ride so we started our celebrations a little early. Everyone got decked out in red white and blue clothing and accessories and we stopped a bunch to take tons of America themed pictures   

 Sarah squared got real patriotic  

What could be more American than hay bails?

 And corn fields!

   

I met this adorable little girl at one of the water stops! 

 

Day 35

North Platte, Nebraska 

The 4th this year happened to land on a rest day so we got to spend it at a lake in North Platte. 

  

Day 36

Oshkosh, Nebraska

The scenery is finally changing! For the first time in weeks, we started riding over gorgeous rolling hills and past ranches

   
    
 

Day 37

Alliance, Nebraska 

99 miles in 99 degree weather made for an intense ride today. Luckily we got to eat lunch by this gorgeous lake and the scenery all day was beautiful

  

After we got to Alliance we biked an extra 5 miles to see Car Henge, which is America’s mechanical version of Stone Henge. 

 

We have a slight obsession with climbing things 

  

Day 38

Chadron, Nebraska 

Starting to get back into the mountains! 

   
  

At end of the day, we went to Chadron state park and hiked/rock climbed a bit

  
  
 

Sarah squared hikes Nebraska !  

Day 39

Rapid City, South Dakota 

Total mileage: 112

Today was the longest and most beautiful ride of this trip so far. We were up at 4am and riding before 6. 

The first 16 miles were all on a gravel road, which most of my teammates hated but I thought it was fun. We were surrounded by rolling rocky hills and horse pastures and all of it looked like it came straight out of a western movie

We didn’t get a state sign, but we sound this South Dakota license plate right around where the state line should be! 

  

   

  
    
  

When we got to Rapid City we drove out to see Mount Rushmore. 

 

Day 40

Rapid City, South Dakota 

We had a service day in the morning at the local hospital and got to hand out chemo care bags to some of the patients 

  Note my hair flowing gracefully in the wind  

When we got back, we hiked little trail behind the church we stayed at that overlooked the city
  

  

Then we hiked a big trail that took us to Harney peak, which is the highest point of elevation East of the Rockies 

    
    
   

Day 41

Sun Dance, Wyoming 

I had to drive the water van today, but the route into Wyoming was incredible. Most of it was a little gravel road that went through the black hills and the last few miles opened up into beautiful rolling hills

   
We took a trip to Devil’s tower once we got to Sun Dance. It’s the first ever national monument and was formed by a volcano eruption

    

Native Americans put prayer clothes on trees surrounding the tower to prevent the devil from ever getting out

 
If you get a permit, you’re allowed to climb to the top of the tower

 We hiked a trail that looped around it and went to this gorgeous lookout

 

Day 42
 

Galette, Wyoming

   
 

Day 43

Buffalo, Wyoming

Every day in Wyoming seems to get more beautiful, and full of wildlife

   
At one point a Prong horn started running along side us. It got distressed and tried to jump over a barbed wire fence, but didn’t really jump high enough and ended up loosing a few clumps of fur. We were pretty traumatized that we hurt it, but it seemed to trot off unharmed

    
 

Day 44

Worland, Wyoming 

The ride to Worland is our biggest climbing day, with 36 miles and 4,907 feet of elevation. Instead of doing ride groups, we paired up with one other person we felt we could climb with. I somehow ended up climbing with Matt, who is ridiculously fast and I’m pretty sure isn’t even human. He sang songs from Mulan the whole time and literally pulled me up the mountain at some points  
I made a beetle friend in the morning 

 
Given the ride today, a picture in the crazy woman square seemed necessary 

   
They have pretty loose regulations on cattle ranges in Wyoming. This guy was roamin around on the side of the road 

    
Once we got to the top, we got off our bikes for a little rock climbing 

  
  

  
    
 
Matt and I paired up with Zack and Hannah for the descent of the mountain

   

Hannah and I were a little tired by the end of the day 

 Day 45

Riverton, Wyoming

Day 3 in a row of waking up at 4am for a 90+ mile ride had us all pretty exhausted, so we stopped in a gas station to get some coffee. The staff had this board of inspirational quotes on the wall right by the bathroom. It got us pretty pumped for the ride while we were waiting in line to pee

   

    
  

We rode by a state park and took a break to go swimming in some hot springs 

  
  

 
We thought we were gonna have to bike over a mountain, but we ended up going through a canyon  
  
  

On the other side of the canyon, the river opened up into tie awesome desert lake 

  
 

Advertisements

The corn is getting taller

Day 27 

Audobon, Iowa

Despite having to reroute a bit to avoid flooded bike trails, we managed to get to the little town of Audobon pretty early in the day. We made some butterfly friends along the way too!

   
  

When we got there, we met Albert the giant Bull

  
And we found an awesome playground 

  

The church that hosted us that night made an awesome dinner with tons of vegan food! The food on this trip is totally exceeding my expectations 

 

Day 28

Stanton, Iowa
 

We spent the first portion of the ride on a bike trail filled with butterflies and berry trees. It was cool at first, but the amount of butterflies we hit with our bikes got a little horrifying. I tried not to think about it 

  

The bike path went over some cool bridges 

    

  

Iowa is probably about 90% farmlands with lots of rolling hills

 

Our host in Stanton arranged for us to have a tour of the “little white city”. It was amazing to see how close the community there is, I didn’t think places like that still existed. Stanton has a population of 664 people and is called the little white city because it used to be that every single house was painted white. Most of them still are. We stopped quite a few times to say hi to people that happened to be out in their front yards. Stanton is also known for having the worlds largest coffee pot (they get mad when you say tea pot, even though it totally looks like one) 

   

And an award winning coffee cup water tower 

 

Day 30

Omaha, Nebraska 

 Getting back into the cities again! It’s weird how quickly farmlands change to cities when you’re biking. We didn’t get to pass by a state sign today, but we did ride over a really cool bridge that marks the state line between Iowa and Nebraska. The view was pretty awesome

  

The river had an interesting story too  

  

 
And there it is, the state line! I’m now officially in Nebraska and quickly approaching the half way point of my journey 

Day 31

Still Omaha 

 Our service event this morning was at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. I have a cold so I didn’t get to visit with the patients, but I did get a tour of the hospital. 

After the service event, we all took a trip to the Omaha zoo. I’m not really a fan of zoos because I feel really bad for the caged wild animals, but I was told it’s the #1 zoo in the country so I decided to give it a chance

   

  

That peacock was just casually wandering around the picnic tables so I guess he was happy enough 

  

  

  


Some of the exhibits did give the animals a decent amount of space, but for the most part they still looked unhappy and I really don’t like seeing animals in captivity. I think the Omaha zoo might be the last zoo I go to.

Day 32

Columbus, Nebraska

I was in charge of driving the host van and getting food donations today. I got to go to a little local coffee shop and a whole foods market! I haven’t even seen a whole foods since the trip started so that was really exciting for me. Fire works are legal in Nebraska, so we also stopped and picked some up for the 4th of July (which is approaching a little too fast for me…)

We stayed in a firehouse for the first time. The hosts Tim and Chris were awesome and got us lots of veggies and pizza. They even got a dairy free vegan pizza! 

  

Day 33

Chapman, Nebraska

Today’s ride was a super flat 52 mile ride into the tiny town of Chapman. It’s got a whopping population of 292 – didn’t know towns could even be this small? 

  

  

The corn is finally starting to get taller too

  

  Our host today is the local school district, so naturally I went out to explore the playground 

   
I found a little birds nest with robins eggs in one of the trees!

 

From cities to cornfields (and back to cities)

Day 19

Chicago, Illinois

We got up super early to bike into Chicago to try to make the Stanley Cup parade and have some extra time to see the city. We just missed the parade, but we still had a while to explore. A bunch of us went to Sears tower, the tallest point in the city and one of the tallest buildings in the world. The view was incredible.

  

Day 20

Day 20 was a rest day, so we got the whole day to do whatever we wanted. A few of us went to a coffee shop in the morning to try to blog, but the wifi was super slow so that didn’t really work out. After that we went to this sandwich place called Luckys. Luckys has a sandwich eating competition in which you have to eat 3 giant sandwiches in under an hour. You’re not allowed to throw up or go to the bathroom and they keep you there a while after you finish to make sure you don’t. Hundreds of people have attempted to do it, but only 14 had ever succeeded. A few of my teammates decided to try it.

2015-06-19 12.46.58

I guess biking across the country conditions you to eat ridiculously large amounts of food, because all three of them finished with plenty of time to spare.

They didn’t feel so good after…but they won cool shirts!

2015-06-19 14.16.39

After that we got our bikes and went to see what else Chicago had to offer. We found two princesses by the giant bean!

2015-06-19 16.28.29

2015-06-19 16.35.01

There was also this giant waterfall thing

IMG_0260

And this really ugly statue of legs

IMG_0246

We went to find out what the story behind this strange art piece was and ended up meeting a couple with a really adorable dog (his name is Keenan and you can see him in the picture if you look really close). They told us that the statue was actually donated as a joke by another city. After talking to them for about 15 minutes about the 4K and what we were doing, we learned that Aaron, the woman, had her brother pass away spontaneously from a rare form of cancer at the age of 42. I rode for him the next day.

After the ugly statue, we made our way to the beach. Being from Long Island, I was pretty skeptical of how a lake beach could compare to the ocean or even the bay. I do think my beaches are better, but I was still impressed by Lake Michigan.

2015-06-19 19.33.02

They had a really cute beach bar too

2015-06-19 19.04.50

Day 20 was also a service day, so we got to hand out a scholarship to someone affected by cancer. The girl awarded the scholarship today was Liesl, who lost her father to cancer only a month after he was diagnosed.


Day 21

Dekalb, Illinois

Today’s ride was only 67 miles. It’s funny how that seems so short now. Getting out of the city was a little slow, but once we were out we rode most of the day on a really pretty bike trail

That night we stayed at a pretty cool church, called the church of Dekalb. They went above and beyond making us an amazing dinner spread. They made a vegan quinoa enchilada thing and even got me vegan cheese! Definitely the best meal I’ve had yet on this trip.

Later on I checked my email and saw that o had gotten a donation to my 4K page. The couple we had met in Chicago donated $1,000, bringing me up to 98% of my goal! It’s incredible how generous people can be and I’m so inspired by the kindness of everyone I’m meeting on this trip.

Day 22

 Freeport, Illinois

IMG_0274

Today’s ride was a little longer at 72 miles, consisting mostly open roads and corn fields. My teammate Sarah Loerzel (on the right) and I have started a tradition of Sarah Sandwiching as many people as we can whenever we get the opportunity. This was one of our better sandwiches.

Day 23

Moline, Illinois

Getting to Moline was a bit of a struggle due to some severe weather conditions. We only got 30 miles by the time thunderstorms hit, and there was a tornado watch put into effect. We took cover in the only store around, which conveniently happened to be called the “Land of OZ”

2015-06-22 14.10.35 2015-06-22 13.54.14

After about 6 hours, we finally got everyone shuttled to the church that was hosting us that night.

Day 24 

Marengo, Iowa

The 102 mile ride into Marengo went way smoother than the ride the day before. We didn’t get a state sign, but we did get to cross over the Mississippi River

2015-06-23 06.57.15

Once we got into Iowa it was back to dirt roads and cornfields

2015-06-23 08.24.36

2015-06-23 11.10.52

Day 25

Des Moines, Iowa

We had some more issues with thunderstorms and tornado watches, so we had to shuttle into Des Moines instead of riding our bikes. It was supposed to be a 107 mile ride, so it took most of the day to get everyone and all of our stuff to the hosts. We get to stay in hotels in Des Moines for 2 whole days though! Real beds are becoming a rare luxury for us so having them for 2 days in a row is a pretty big deal, especially when they come with a personal shower.

Day 26 

Still Des Moines

Today is another service day, so we went to the children’s hospital in Des Moines to volunteer with the younger patients. We brought brunch and chemo care bags and talked to a bunch of the staff and some of the patients and their families. It’s sad seeing such young children having to fight cancer, but they all came in with smiles on their faces.

After that we set out to explore Des Moines. We found the bike path that we’re supposed to take tomorrow. It goes along the river in the picture below and as you can see, it’s currently under water..

2015-06-25 12.21.31

…so we might have to find a different way

Days 12 through 18

Day 12 Dayton, Ohio

Today we biked 83 miles, almost exclusively on paved bike trails. We almost managed to get lost quite a few times, but it seemed like every time we made a wrong turn a local would ask us about our trip and send us back in the right direction. Everyone we passed by was super nice and friendly. Once we got to Dayton, the Dayton rotary club had a party for us in this awesome tree house with tons of delicious food. They even got me vegan sushi! 

  

  

We also got to meet their adorable dog Beau, who is larger than almost all of my teammates 

   
Day 13 Greensburge, Indiana 

First (official) century day!

The Rotary club invited us to their meeting this morning for breakfast. They presented us with a $2,500 donation to the Ulman Cancer fund and a bunch of the members gave individual donations as well, bringing it up to about $3,200 total. Their warmth and generosity was truly touching. I was in charge of driving the water van, so as soon as breakfast was over I set out to chalk the route.

The wind and heat got everyone in rough shape by the first water stop, only 15 miles into the 100 mile day. Thunder storms hit around mile 30 so we had to hide in barns until they passed. Once we finally got to greensburge, I found out my bike fork had been bent when it was taken off of the van. I won’t be able to ride and will be in the vans until I can get the fork replaced, so I’m pretty bummed. On the bright side, I did get to go for a run for the first time since the trip started! 
Day 14 Indianapolis, Indiana 

Today, June 13th, is a very significant day for the 4K for cancer community and even more significant for team Portland. A year ago today, a girl named Jamie Roberts tragically lost her life on the Portland ride. I never had the privilege of knowing her, but the stories and memories my teammates shared of her were truly moving. Today we all rode for Jamie and celebrated her life by eating hotdogs, her favorite food.

   
 

Today also marks 3 years since my teammate Gino was diagnosed with leukemia. He totally kicked cancers butt so we celebrated with some cake.

  
A bunch of people have been having bike issues, so a few of us headed into Indianapolis to hit up some bike shops. After getting turned down by quite a few, we found one that was able to fix my fork! I’m not sure just how strong the metal is after being bent back and forth, but it’ll do until I can get a replacement and I’m super stoked to get out of the van and ride again. 
Day 15  Bloomington, Indiana 

  Today’s ride started out awesome, the weather was perfect and the route was pretty flat and not windy at all. Along the way we passed by an old barn and a giant man eating chicken sign. Being vegan, I had to take a picture with it.

   
  

When we arrived in Bloomington, we got to eat dinner at a local resteraunt

We also got to sleep in dorms at Indiana University. It was amazing sleeping in an actual bed and we had a blast pretending to be college freshman. 

 Day 16  Terre Haute, Indiana

  I was in charge of getting lunch donations today, so me and a few teammates stayed in Bloomington for the first half of the day. It was awesome getting to see the area more and I’m in love with the campus and the town. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and the campus is beautiful.   

By noon we had gotten enough donations to feed an army, so we explored Bloomington a bit

 
Day 17 Champaigne, Illinois

We crossed another state line from Indiana to Illinois  today! There wasn’t a state sign on the road coming into Indiana, so we snagged a couple pictures with one on the way out
   
The Illinois sign was a bit more exciting

   
It’s crazy how wide open the land out here is. The roads go on straight for miles and there are corn fields as far as you can see in every direction. Occasionally there’s a house or two, and towns are pretty far apart. It’s weird to think how far these people have to drive just to get to a grocery store or even a gas station. 

 

Day 18 Bradley, Illinoise

I got a replacement fork shipped to a bike shop in Champaign, so I stayed in the van to bring my bike in to get it switched out. The new one is black so my bike is way more badass now. We didn’t really have to get food donations because we had a ton of leftover food, so we hit up Starbucks and headed to Bradley. 

Days 6 through 11

Day 6

Today we biked 66 miles from Clarion, PA to Liverpool, Ohio. The beginning of the ride was on this gravel trail that was really pretty, but after a while it got pretty painful to ride on. There were a couple pitch black tunnels we had to ride through, which were awesome. When we were about a mile away from the Church we were sleeping at that night, a really intense thunderstorm hit. We rode it out and got to the church, but I accidentally rode past the door. I tried breaking quick but that resulted in me falling into a puddle and breaking my phone, which is why there are sadly no pictures for a few of the days. BUT-as soon as we got inside and dried off, the sun came out and the weather was gorgeous again so we explored the little town of East Liverpool. We ended up going to this little bar, literally called “The Bar”. It was pretty epic. There was a couple inside who were both wearing T-shirts that said support Lani. As soon as they saw our bike jerseys they asked us about what we were doing and told us how they were going to a benefit walk that night to raise money for a woman in their community who is currently battling cancer. My ride the next day was dedicated to Lani.

Day 7

Today we rode to new Philadelphia, Ohio. The ride in a nutshell was just a lot of rolling hills and cows. We got there pretty early, so I was able to get to a sprint store and get a new phone! After that we went to this really cute little coffee shop called the daily grind. I sat down to blog, but then we found out that there was a little amusement park 5 minutes away that closed at 9pm. It was already 8, so we booked it out of that coffee shop and piled into the 4k van. I think we may have exceeded the vans max capacity a little bit…

  
But it was totally worth it, even if we were too big for some of the rides

   
    

Day 8

Probably one of the best days yet. We rode to Athens, Ohio. The route we took was all rolling hills, and the weather was perfect. 

Shout out to the farmer guy for not getting mad when we climbed on his hay bales!

  
later on we kept passing by this really gross brown river that probably consists more of mud than it does water. I played (and lost) my teammate Brett in a bet that resulted in me having to jump in said river. A few others jumped in with me and played in the mud a bit. The hosts that night recommended we seek urgent health care after hearing about it, but luckily we are all still alive and well!

Day 9

Today we rode to Athens, Ohio. It was supposed to be relatively easy, but the hills were pretty intense. Who knew Ohio had so many hills?  My legs are in pretty rough shape, but we’ve got a 93 mile day tomorrow so I’m hoping they get a little better…

on the bright side, we had an amazing view at lunch!

  
Day 10

 Completed our first century ride today! A wrong turn in the morning upped our mileage today from 93 to exactly 100 miles and somehow, it felt like the easiest ride yet! The roads were all pretty flat and I was hyped up on lots of coffee gel shots, which helped a ton. 

  
We also saw a giant dino bird along the way…

   
 
And we ran into a few obstacles

  
After 11 hours of riding, we finally arrived in Columbus, Ohio

 
 

Day 11

Today is our second service day! Over the course of the Summer, we get to hand out 2 scholarships to young people who are battling or have overcome cancer. Today, we awarded a $2,500 scholarship to a girl named Riley Streider. Riley was diagnosed last June with Leukemia and underwent treatment for 7 months, but she kicked cancers ass and just graduated from high school. This fall she’ll be attending the University of Miami in Ohio.

We also got to go to a dinner event where we met Doug Ulman, the founder of a bunch of cancer fighting organizations including 4k for cancer. There were a bunch of live music performances and live auctions and other fun stuff! 

   
 

East is East, West is Portland

We scream those words as part of our cheer every morning as we get ready to take off. The first few days of this trip have been pretty crazy. On the morning of day 1, we had a huge send off ceremony in Baltimore Harbor. After saying our goodbyes to our families and dipping our bike tires into the harbor, we began our trek across the country. We’ve been getting up at 4:30 am and biking until about 7pm, covering about 75 miles each day. So far we’ve biked from Baltimore MD to Pittsburgh PA. Our route went through the Appalachian Mountains and down about 90 miles of the Great Allegheny Passage. At Night we’ve been sleeping in churches, most of which have provided us with pretty awesome food. On day 2 we even got to sleep in beds!

sendoffceremony3

sendoff3

ohiopyle

Along the way, we stop and ask grocery stores and restaurants for food donations. We scored some french fries from McDonalds on days 1 and 2!

FirstFoodDonation

We also have a dedication ceremony every morning, where we all dedicate our ride that day to someone we know that has been affected by cancer and write their names on our legs. My first day was dedicated to my grandparents, Ruth and Phil Wagner, who are the reason that I am riding across the country. My grandma battled cancer 3 times before it eventually took her life in September of 2014. My grandfather is now battling sickle cell lymphoma.

day1dedication2

My second day was dedicated to my great aunt, Elayne Schroeder, who battled cancer for 14 years.

day2

I dedicated day 4 to the family of one of our hosts, who goes by the name “grandma Victory”, or Vicky for short. At the age of 26, her daughter Laura was diagnosed with cancer. Her 2 year old son was diagnosed with leukemia at the same time. They underwent treatment together for 4 years, before Laura passed away at the age of 30. Her son is now 17 and cancer free.

Today, day 5, we get to rest our legs and explore the city of Pittsburgh, PA. We stopped and REI and a coffee shop, and we got a delicious lunch donated to us by a Mexican restaurant. Then we watched the sunset from a lookout above the city, which was pretty awesome!

day5lunch

Pittsburgh

Tomorrow we’ll cross another state line and enter Ohio. It’s crazy looking at a map and seeing how far we’ve come in only 5 days!