Good morning readers!
Since my last post we made it into Indiana through South Bend, Michigan through Kalamazoo, East Lansing and Ann Arbor, and now into Ohio through Toledo and Sandusky.
The ride to South Bend was a firm 90 miles. We stopped at a beach along Lake Michigan for lunch and had a chance to hang out for an hour or two in between our ride.
South Bend wasn’t extremely eventful but luckily we got to tour around the Notre Dame Campus. It was pretty neat to see their beautiful campus and cathedral full of tradition. Here’s a photo of me with the mural on campus of “Touchdown Jesus”. This mural over looks their football stadium.
That day Jeremy Osborne (Central Michigan) and I swept. That meant we stayed in the back behind the other cyclists and rode slow to make sure everyone was safe and to properly allow the crew to count throughout the day. So all in all, it was a pretty chill ride. It’s been the longest ride we’ve had in a while and the longest for the rest of the trip. Jeremy and I tried to make it a point and consume everything and anything. I ate 2 Clif bars (which I eat normally in like a week), 3 bags of cookies, cheese-its, Pringles, and we split a small sleeve of Oreos.
South Bend > Kalamazoo, MI (70 miles). This day was a pretty fun ride. We got hit with a little bit of rain riding into lunch at mile 63 but were able to quickly run in and beat most of the rain. We were the first pace line in and got lucky. The rest of the group, not so much. That night we stayed at the dorms at Western Michigan University. I took it pretty easy that night and got some rest. I think my body finally caught up to me because I was pretty exhausted. Our bodies and immune systems have been running at 120% and a few guys have been falling a little ill. We didn’t have any friendship visits so it was cool to relax.
Kalamazoo > East Lansing (~90 miles). A day that was supposed to be 80 miles ended up over 90 because of a turn that was incorrectly marked. We started the day and it was pouring already. Unfortunately I only had on a wind breaker it isn’t very waterproof. After I took it off and got a teammates rain jacket, it got really sunny out. After about 10 miles I took off the jacket only to have it start pouring again 5 miles later. Even though the rain was hitting our face like needles as we were going 20+mph, it was probably the most fun I’ve had on the saddle. I rode with Jason Milliken (Miami Univ.) and Matt Docimo (Houston). After our long day and 10 mile detour we finally arrived at our Courtyard Marriott where we got to enjoy an awesome lunch and some amazing ice cream. We got an awesome hotel room and even got our laundry done for us thanks to some amazing sponsors. That night we got letters from former teams that rode in 2011. My letter was from a guy named Grant Walton from Arizona State University. Honestly, it was just what I needed this far along the trip. His open letter really helped me put things into perspective and refocus my energy and thoughts for the next 2 weeks. So if you’re reading this- Thanks, Grant!
The next morning the wonderful ladies of the Beta Phi chapter of Delta Phi Epsilon and the amazing ladies of Phi Mu paid and co- sponsored our breakfast. It was just what we needed to nourish our bodies for the ride ahead. Thank you ladies!!
As you can see by the photo below, we’ve come a really really long way.
We’ve hit the 3,000 mile threshold and it feels absolutely wonderful.
The ride to Ann Arbor was a fairly short one (~68 miles). It was a pretty neat ride. I rode with Travis Turner (Georgia Tech) and Luke Millen (Purdue). We spent 90% of the trip reminiscing on memories from the trip. We spoke about memorable friendship visits, all the tough rides, and all the great team events we had along the way. It was a pretty great ride to reflect.
While in Ann Arbor, we quickly visited the Pi Kappa Phi house and set up our bikes there. We got to stay at the brand new dorms at the University of Michigan and luckily we all got or own rooms to chill in. I’m actually kind of missing the days we slept on gym floors next to each other.
That day we also had a friendship visit with the PEAC (Programs to Educate All Cyclists) Organizations. They’re a local group that works with people with and without disabilities to teach them how to ride bikes and bike safety. We a got to try out their adaptive bikes and even got to ride on some tandem bikes. Here’s myself, Michael Walton (TCU), and Luke Millen (Purdue) together on a triple tandem bike.
After that, we got to work with people with traumatic brain injuries and had a “Mock Rock”/Lipsync. Here’s some photos of the different numbers performed.
Those ladies performed “Girls Just wanna have fun” in their 80’s attire.
Those are some photos of Kyle Marpe (Purdue), Michael Walton (TCU), Derek Dedeker (TCU), Luke Millen (Purdue), and Spencer Haworth (Central Michigan) performing “Single Ladies” by Beyonce. As you can imagine, it was quite the performance.
That was a local group performing some medley of songs. It was a mix between Three 6 Mafia and Elvis. It was pretty funny and they even took home the award for best performance. The best part was when they played the Percolator which has quickly become the song of our trip.
The whole team dressed up and danced to our favorite song “Everytime We Touch” by Cascada. I wore a Dorothy dress from the Wizard of Oz. All the clients loved it and had a blast. The best part of that picture is definitely Jason Milliken’s (Miami Univ) face behind my left shoulder (to the far right).
That’s Doug Meenan doing the Wobble as awkwardly as possible.
Ann Arbor > Toledo. Unfortunately I couldn’t finish this day. A part of my bike fell off and I couldn’t finish the ride. For those that know bikes, my jockey wheels/pulley on my read derailleur fell off. I just got the part replaced 2 days ago and I think the shop mechanic didn’t tighten it enough. The rough and bumpy Michigan roads caused it to fall off. At first I tried to ride through it because it really isn’t that serious and it only caused me to not be able to shift gears. But after a few miles up it jammed and had to rack. I was really really upset about it because I’ve probably spent about $200-$300 on maintenance on my bike so far while on the trip and I really want to cycle every last mile for the short remainder of the trip.
Toledo has probably been the best day of the trip. We had a healthy and filling Trader Joes breakfast in the morning and had a grand arrival into Toledo. Arrivals are always fun and really help energize the team seeing so many friends, family, and supporters come out to cheer us on.
Here’s a photo of our Regional Governor from Ohio welcoming us to the University of Toledo.
Unfortunately there was no state sign for Ohio so I had to settle on the Toledo one.
A lot of people who didn’t go to FIU and younger ones were all wondering why I was so excited for this stop at the University of Toledo. Well our first ever bowl game in 2010 was against UT. We were down 32-31 with about a minute left in the game when we started our comeback drive. On 4th and 17, TY Hilton ran a Hook and Ladder play and got us the first down that took us into field goal range. That play sealed our fate and lead to the go-ahead game winning field goal as time expired. It was on December 26, 2010. Because of student government, FIU sent 100 of their best fans (including me) up to Detroit for free to watch the Panthers make history. It was honestly my best college memory. I remember this play like it was yesterday. Here’s the play- http://youtu.be/VIjfoBrrfbw.
I wore my FIU flag as a cape for a part of the day too.
After a hearty Chic-fil-A lunch (which I haven’t had in about 3 months) we got to lodging and set up. I got interviewed by local media and I was featured on their nightly broadcast. As soon as I find the link I’ll post it on my Facebook and update this post.
Dinner was absolutely spectacular. We got a Steak and BBQ Chicken Dinner at the Outback Steakhouse. I can’t even remember the last time I had steak.
As if this day couldn’t get anymore amazing, we got massages that night. It was just what our bodies needed after 56 days of cycling.
After our massages we went to a teammates home in Toledo. Saurabh Mehta’s (Miami Univ) family hosted us at their lovely home for dessert. We had Ice Cream sundaes and just got to hang out with their friends and family.
Toledo > Sandusky. Unfortunately due to the issue with my bike, I couldn’t ride today. It’s been the first time on the whole trip where I’ve spent the whole day in the van helping mark turns and making sure my teammates are safe. It really sucks not being able to bike but it did give me an opportunity to catch up writing my thank you cards and writing this blog post.
We got to check out the Cedar Point theme park. It’s home to some of the fastest and tallest roller coasters in the world. It was a great time with the brothers and I had a blast. For those who REALLY know me, I absolutely hate roller coasters. I’m not scared, I just don’t enjoy them. Ill ride them occasionally when I’m with a big group of friends, but I absolutely despise them. I get motion sickness pretty easy and it made Cedar Point pretty interesting. I rode a total of 4 coasters and threw up a total of 2 times. I remember getting on the ‘Mantis’ ride and telling my teammates, “yeah this one looks like it’ll make me puke”. Sure enough, it did. I got off the ride and while crossing the bridge off the ride, I yaked into their Koi pond. I kept it classy. Managed to get no throw up on me and had some water to wash out my mouth. A few hundred feet later I yaked again in the bushes. It was pretty amusing and all in all I had a great time.
So sorry for all the grammatical errors! As many of you know, I’m writing this from my cell phone and while on the road. In any case, I hope you enjoyed and stay tuned! Only 10 more days until DC!
Again, thank you to everyone who helped me get this far!!!