Tour de USA

So the past 5 days have been pretty easy on the bike. We’ve had some days off the bike but lots and lots of programming. Since Rockford, IL we’ve made our way into Waukesha and Milwaukee, Wisconsin and now back into Illinois through Glenview and Chicago.

Waukesha and Milwaukee were kind of jumbled together. The ride from Rockford to Waukesha was extremely fun. It was a 95 mile day. The weather was phenomenal. We were biking into a nice cool breeze and I doubt I broke a sweat the entire way.

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After Travis (Georgia Tech), Beau (Miami Univ), and I crossed into Wisconsin we were the 2nd pace line and were comfortably riding up towards the first. In the last 10 miles we finally caught up and let them hold the lead. We got red flagged about 4 miles out to stop and let the vans catch up to us. After the red flag, our pace line decided to kill it and speed past the first. We made our move and took off. Sure enough, we got stopped by a red light. It made the waiting for the green extremely awkward when they pulled up to us and go “so, are we doing this?!” We proceed to mumble “no, we were just messing around”. Right when the light switched to green we all took off and started sprinting towards lodging. We totally broke out of pace line’s and were just focused on our sprint finish. I swear, it was something out of the Tour de France. So we all staggered in to lodging, our pace line totally beat there’s. However, since their pace line got red flagged even before ours for 20 minutes, we let them have the win. It was still a great moment and pretty fun memory of the trip.

Here’s our schedule while we were in Waukesha/Milwaukee. You can see we had a pretty jam packed schedule.

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Our first friendship visit was to take a group of young ladies out to the mall and spend some time with them. Our new friend, Shakira, was pretty shy but was really excited about making herself look like a princess and getting a make over. We took her over to Claire’s and bought her some costume jewelry and a pink tutu. We walked around the mall and window shopped with her and eventually came across the Sephora store where the ladies were kind enough to do some make up on her. Here’s a photo of our group with Shakira.

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You can tell she really loves the color pink, and sparkles.

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Our lunch was pretty cool the next day, we got to try out adaptive eating utensils and plates for people with specialized needs. It’s crazy to see these customized spoons, forks, and plates and to hear how much it helps people of different physical abilities.

Later that day we went to a local bowling alley to hang out with the Spina Bifida Association of Wisconsin. We had a really warm welcome and it was a pretty fun time. Instead of trying to bowl a perfect game, we just had fun and goofed off. We even put the bumpers up for the last few frames to play some trick shots. I’m happy to say I got a strike after throwing the bowling ball between my legs and hitting the bumpers 3 times.

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After that, we went to dinner with the Davidson Family at the Pewaukee Yacht Club. (By Davidson, I mean of the Harley Davidson family). It was extremely neat to meet them. The son of the sponsor/great grandson of one of the original Davidson brothers is a brother of Pi Kappa Phi and I believe rode on Journey of Hope in 2004. We were supposed to hit the water on a boat tour, but the rain hampered us from doing so.

The following day was absolute madness. After an early breakfast, we left to a local school to meet with local kids at a summer camp. We performed our Kids on the Block puppet show and did some coloring with them. I met this kid named Carmelo that day. I convinced him my name was Lebron and completely forgot of it for the rest of the visit. As we were leaving he screamed, “bye Lebron!”. It was pretty funny.

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After that we left to the Pettit National Ice Center and got ready to play some Wheelchair Ice Hockey. It was so much fun. I absolutely love ice skating and played hockey when I was a kid so this was a blast for me. It really wore me out and got my shoulders pretty stiff. All in all, it was such a great experience.

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We also got a proclamation from the Mayor of Milwaukee that day on center ice declaring July 22, 2013 to be Push America day in Milwaukee.

After Wheelchair Ice Hockey we left to a local high school to play some more adaptive sports. We got to play wheelchair basketball and beep baseball. Beep baseball is an adaptive form of baseball that uses a beeping baseball so people with issues seeing can hear the ball coming at them. They also using beeping bases that alert them when and where to run to another base. It was real neat to learn how to play.

Here’s Savannah and I and myself and Kenna after we played a tough game.

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That day I got to also ride an adaptive bike with Abigail. Abigail is a beautiful 13 year-old girl full of life. The doctors have yet to diagnose her condition and have left her family with a lot of ambiguity surrounding her and her sisters health. Regardless, she’s just like any other 13 year old and full of joy and happiness. We got to ride the bike around the high school hallways. I know it was always my dream to ride my bike through my high school’s halls, I can only imagine what was going through her head.

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After all that programming we finally got back on the bike and left for Glenview, IL! It was a 75 mile day. Conditions were pretty great and left us with some great cycling weather. I got to ride with a crew member as he tried his first day out on the bike. Sam Raduns (Univ of South Florida), myself, and Colin Schwartz (Univ. of Washington) got to ride together. After mile 37 we realized we were going at too slow of a pace and decided to pick it up to get out of rack point. For the next 18 miles we probably averaged over 23 mph and moved up 3-4 pace lines. We made it to the YMCA (our lodging for the night). I took my bike to get some quick repairs and that night, our friendship visit was a dance with some local kids. A balloon artist provided us with some armor and swords. Jesus Palma (Univ of Nevada, Reno), Benny Rivera (Iona College), and I were inducted to Sir Balloon’s round table that day. Check it out.

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The next morning we got to experience an early morning yoga session. We’ve been pretty tough on our bodies and I know a lot of us haven’t really been taking the time to stretch and stay healthy, so yoga was much needed to ease some tension. Every pose was accompanied by a team member moaning or groaning. It was pretty funny and was a great stress reliever.

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As you can see by our “sleeping dragon” pose, we were all pretty burnt out.

After that, we rode in to the Victor C. Nuemann Foundation in Chicago, IL for a friendship visit. We were greeted by a proclamation by the Governor of Illinois claiming July 24th as Push America day in all of Illinois. It was pretty neat to be honored with such a distinction.

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That day I got to spend a lot of time with my new friend, Jonathan. I was trying to show Jonathan how to use the Internet but couldn’t because we didn’t have enough time. I asked one of the directors of the center to show him my blog after a few days so he could see this post. Hopefully he’s reading or has read this already and can see that he’s famous and that he’s on the Internet!!! I had a blast chatting with him and running around the center. He’s truly an awesome guy.

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After our visit we had some free time to roam Chicago and sight see. We toured Millennium Park, walked up and down Michigan Ave., got to eat at Club Lago, went up to the lounge at the Hancock tower and so much more. It was such a blast to have so much time off to chill and hang out.

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I’m almost done, I swear.

Yesterday we got to visit the Envision Center of Westtown where we taught some people how to ride bikes and hung out with them. It was such a great visit. We drew different parts of our trip with chalk on the floor so we could simulate our experience. The start line was San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. It was followed by stops and drawings of Denver, Grand Island, Iowa, Chicago, Cleveland, and DC.

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After our visit we had a little more time to sight-see and relax. We went to UB’s dogs for some Chicago style hot dogs. After that, we walked around town and decided to rent bikes to check out Navy Pier.

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We goofed off in the city and I even walked across a fountain in downtown.

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Navy Pier was pretty fun. We met with a teammates’ brothers girl friend and her family. They were gracious enough to take a few of us on the Ferris Wheel and buy us some Ben and Jerry’s.

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Next up we have a 90 mile day into South Bend, IN.

Thanks for reading and sorry for the long post!!! I can’t believe our Journey comes to an end in 15 days. Time really does fly by.

Oh! And we got to the bottom of the missing thank you cards issue. They’re now en route and should be in your mailbox in the coming days!!

Regards,

Sanjeev

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