The best day of my life.

There really is no other way to describe it. All the guys were tearing up the night before and I was thinking ‘man these guys are soft’. The next morning the lights turned on and our wake-up music began. We slowly woke up and we all came to the slow realization that what we had worked so hard for the entire summer was finally here. The moment that we all were dreaming of for 66 days was finally here.

I slowly had flashbacks to our days in California, riding through our first ride into Napa and having to get up “Hot Dog Hill” and throwing up on it. Our day in Nevada where we stopped in the middle of no where on a dried up lake that looked like a scene out of the movie “Holes” to inscribe ‘JOH 2013’ on the side of the road. The salt flats in Utah that we saw coming up and over a hill and wondering what the heck they were. Getting up and over Loveland Pass in Colorado and zipping down the mountain in the freezing cold. Into Nebraska where we met some lifelong friends in Grand Island and were treated like royalty in the town (and began to see the endless corn). Having to bear through the rolling hills of Iowa and having to over come that 97 mile day with 100% humidity and 105 degree weather (and saw more corn). Into Rockford, IL where Doug Meenan was treated like a local celebrity (And saw even more corn). Playing wheelchair ice hockey in Milwaukee and meeting some amazing people like Cate and Abigail (lo and behold, more corn). The time we had in Chicago relaxing and bonding with the guys being tourists (No corn in Chicago, but some throughout Illinois). Getting a chance to explore Notre Dame and do the ‘Touchdown Jesus’ pose (some corn here and there). Riding on the bumpy Michigan roads everyday through the rain (some corn). Our massages and steaks in Ohio (A LOT more corn). Meeting Leslie in Pittsburgh and having that lifelong memory (finally the end of all the corn). Screaming my frustrations with the hills in Maryland and getting to experience the peloton. All these memories lead to the day I used to only dream about.

After recalling all these memories I quickly grabbed a spare bandana and kept it in my back pocket knowing the water works were coming. It was about a 10 mile ride that day. The first 7-8 miles was riding out of Bethesda and into Northern DC. We made our way around the outskirts of Georgetown and towards the George Washington University. At GW, we met with the Trans America, South, and Build America teams. We circled up one last time for a very emotional prayer and took off.

As we approached the Capitol, it was obvious that there was a huge crowd gathered to welcome us in. You could hear the yelling and screaming of our friends and family as we rode in. It was difficult not to get choked up. I remember holding myself together but the second I looked over to my teammate and saw him crying like a baby, I just couldn’t hold it in. Immediately after, I saw my crazy mother who wouldn’t let go of me as we started walking up towards the lawn. I saw my big bro, Gabe Villanueva, and my beautiful girlfriend and just let it all out.

Chad Coltrane, CEO of Push America, welcomed our friends and family and kicked off the welcome ceremony. Nick Brady, our Project Manager, gave a really touching speech about what exactly we overcame since San Francisco. Nick wrote our final Journal Entry for the team so I thought it would only be appropriate to quote some of his post-

“Before I knew it, my time to speak on behalf of the North Route. I wanted my speech to convey the sense of pride and joy I have for the team, how excited I was for their achievement, how much love I saw within the team. It was important that the audience know how they continually sought to get better, day after day. I wanted people to know they rode every possible mile and were always willing to humble themselves for one another. I spoke about a day of struggles, a day that the team was not expecting to be difficult, but was arguably the hardest of the summer. My message was simple. Just like any challenge thrown at this group, they triumphed and continued to push themselves to get better. This was the theme of this route, at no point in time was there a sense of complacency and it was important that the audience know that. ”

As you can probably tell, it was an extremely emotional time. After our arrival we made our way back to the hotel and packed up our bikes. Once we got everything settled and showered, my friends that made it out for arrival met us at Old Ebbitt Grill. We had a great lunch full of Steak, Oysters, and plenty of ‘refreshments’.

Later on that evening we had our 2013 Banquet. The North route named Michael Walton (Texas Christian University) the recipient of the 2013 Bruce Rogers Award, given to the member who best exemplifies the ideals of Push America. Michael was a stud all summer and one of the guys I grew closest to.

After the photo slideshow of our summer, the North Route was invited to stage by Mr. Coltrane to close out the evening with one last choreographed dance to Cascada “Everytime We Touch”.

Every day we pushed past every physical, mental, and emotional limit in our bodies and become better men from it. We consistently pushed ourselves to be better and would strive to be better men than we were yesterday. The men who left San Francisco were not the same men who arrived on the Capitol Lawn on August 10th. I made 34 of the best friends I’ve ever had. I probably told my life story over 5 dozen times but now these guys know me better than some friends back home. We experienced some extremely tough days where we just wanted to quit and we experienced days where we couldn’t stop thanking god for leading us to that place at that exact moment with this group of guys. We pushed ourselves to ride every single mile we possibly could and our Project Manager did a phenomenal job to make that happen. Whether he altered a route to allow us more time to finish or whether it was allowing us to skim by rack point with the expectation that we kill the end of that ride, we all expected ourselves to make it everyday.

At the end of the banquet, we took our last pictures and began with the goodbye hugs. It seemed like the most anticipated day of our lives had just began, but now it was over. It has been the best 2 months of my life. I cannot thank those who helped me get here enough! This trip would not be possible if it were not for the 250 people who came together and donated to me towards such an amazing cause. I’ve said this in many thank you cards- Your dollars stretch miles and miles to make a difference in the lives of those living with disabilities. The dollars donated will leave a tremendous impact in the growth and development of these people we met with over this summer and I cannot thank you enough.

Here’s some photo’s!

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Thank you so much for keeping up with my Journey! Stay tuned for whats next! Can anyone say Gear Up Florida 2014!? 😉

Kindest Regards,

Sanjeev D. Udhnani

coloring spongebob

So during my last week of riding I completely abandoned writing posts and decided I would live in the moment and cherish every last moment with my teammates. I hope it doesn’t make for a watered down post!

In any case, I last left off at Sandusky, Ohio. Since then we’ve made our way around Ohio through Cleveland and Niles;  into Pennsylvania through Pittsburgh and Uniontown; into Maryland through Cumberland, Hagerstown, and Bethesda. Bethesda was our last day until DC. (I’ll leave DC for it’s own separate post).

Cleveland was a real exciting time. We had a real short ride in so we could make it back to lodging in time to shower and get ready for the Cleveland Indians game. We watched them take on the White Sox. It was a great game to watch. Cleveland has some very passionate fans so it was fun to experience. The ballpark was great. If anyone knows me, I always pig out at ballparks. This time I consumed BBQ Chicken and Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese, Fried Cookie Dough, and of course a hot dog. I had a blast hanging out with the bros and relaxing.

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That’s myself, Alex Eplan (GA Tech), Luke Millen (Purdue), and Jack Johnson (Tenn.) before we left the game. The Indians won that day 6-1.

While in Cleveland, the ladies of Delta Gamma at Case Western Univ. put us up in their house. The area around Case Western was beautiful.

The next day we were fortunate enough to get a tour of the Cleveland Clinic Children’s hospital. They have a worlds ahead facility that is world renowned for their type of care and support.

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That day we hit our final mail drop. Friends and family were sure to send us tons of junk food and snacks. David Iles (Iowa) tried to stuff 3 large Rice Krispies bars in his mouth that day. It was pretty entertaining.

That night after the Cleveland Clinic we had a sponsored dinner at ‘Melt’ a Gourmet Grilled Cheese Restaurant in Cleveland. I had a BBQ Chicken Melt. It was 2 slices of Garlic bread smothered in god knows how many different types of cheeses and BBQ Chicken. It was easily one of the best meals of the trip.

Melt has a world famous challenge. Consume a 3.5 lb Grilled Cheese plate with a heaping side of Fries and a colossal scoop of Cole Slaw. There was something like 12 different types of cheeses in this sandwich and 3 slices of garlic bread. Here’s a photo of the before.

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Jesus Palma (Nevada) and Josh Preslar (Tenn) both tried the Challenge. Both finished around 2/3’s of the challenge. It was pretty impressive to watch.

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Here’s the group cheering them on.

Cleveland > Niles, OH ~ 60 Miles. On this day we were joined by Jim Karlovec. Jim was the first and second Project Manager for the Journey of Hope back in ’88/’89. Mr. Karlovec has done a relay race across America in 7 days. Needless to say, he’s an absolute beast on the bike. That day I rode with Alberto Minocci (Iona College) and we finished as the 3rd pace line in and about 10 minutes behind Mr. Karlovec’s pace line. It was quite the accomplishment for us. That day in Niles we had a huge Dance Party. The DJ had an extremely touching story. He struggled to make a living for himself finding work so he applied for grants and was able to get one through a local Small Business Association to buy his DJ equipment. He gave us an inside look at how difficult it was for people with special needs to find work.

After an Olive Garden sponsored dinner we made our way to the car wash to vacuum and clean the vans. Later that night we went shopping to buy team gifts and get our outfits together for DC. I couldn’t get a photo with the Ohio State sign when we got in (The Toledo sign kind of sucked), so I got a photo before crossing in to PA!

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Niles > Pittsburgh ~80 miles. I can’t seem to remember much about this ride. If I’m not mistaken I rode with Reggie Quaye (Iona College) and Mike Jones (UMBC). I originally rode with these 2 guys back in February for our Regional Training. After we finished our ride we had an older brother sponsor Chipotle for us. We ate along the river and prepared for our arrival at the Three Rivers Association. The organization is a local group that specializes in recreational therapy. Rowing is their main sport but have different water activities as well. The ride in to the arrival was pretty sweet. We rode along the pier where the 3 rivers meet. We got to pass Heinz Field and the Pirates Ballpark. We were greeted by the Build America guys at our arrival and got to spend a couple of hours with them. I got to meet with my chapter brother, Daniel Soraluz again!

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Later that night the family of a former rider sponsored some downtime at a local bowling alley for us. We got a chance to unwind and hang out. We went out later that night to chill near the Univ. of Pittsburgh. We all got some cheesesteaks and for the first time in 3 months I got to enjoy a nice, tall, and cold glass of Yuengling. It was pretty fun hanging out with some guys who did the trip before as well as brothers from U Pitt.

The next morning the our Pitt brothers sponsored an awesome breakfast for us at our hotel. After our hearty breakfast we moved on to the United Cerebral Palsy Center.

There was probably 30-40 clients at this center all with light to severe symptoms of CP. I sat down with a lady who seemed a little older and quickly noticed she wasn’t very verbal. I tried to make small talk with her to no avail. I noticed that on her schedule on her wheelchair there were was time set aside for coloring. So I asked her if she liked to color and her face lit up. I downloaded a coloring book app on my iPhone and let her play for a little while. I noticed that she liked to color the cartoons so I asked what her favorite cartoon was. After she responded ‘Spongebob’ I put on Netflix and watched a few episodes with her. I selfishly thought to myself “man this is pretty neat, I don’t have to dance or play, I’m just sitting here watching cartoons”. She kept thanking me and telling me how appreciative she was but I didn’t think anything of it. One of the counselors told me that it was the happiest they had seen her in months. That kind of stuck with me. All I did was give this lady attention and colored with her and she was the happiest she’d been in months. After our Spongebob session I wheeled her up and outside to snap a photo with her and the group. Pushing her up and down the hill wasn’t easy but it sure was worth it. After I dropped her off back inside and it was time to go she yelled out loud ” thank you, I love you very much”. I can’t remember the last time any moment or memory touched my heart that much, let alone one with spongebob. Here’s Leslie and I before we left-

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As if this day couldn’t get any better, we left to the Woodlands Foundation for a Friendship Visit. They’re a local summer camp just outside of Pittsburgh. The Build America guys were there doing some work and we joined ’em for dinner that day. All the clients were around our age (18-24). The counselor gave us a telling story about how many of these people were beginning to reach their age limit in schools and now having to begin their transition into adulthood. A few JOH guys gave speeches for the clients about having to overcome obstacles and a time where everyone doubted them but they still overcame the issue. It was pretty touching to hear the stories and comments from the clients. It was a shame that we could only spend a few hours with them. It was definitely a visit many of us could feel the true impact of our visit.

Pittsburgh > Uniontown ~50 miles. After the ride, we all showered up and left for a team activity. A cyclist from last year, Andy King, treated the entire team to whitewater rafting in Ohiopyle. This was a first time experience for me and many of my teammates. The 4-hour trip went about 7 miles, and the team took many spills (Luckily for me my team didn’t take any!). One such instance was when the team approached “Dimple rock” (which is notorious for spilling rafts) and sent two boats topside up. The teammates that spilled out were retrieved once they were carried through the rapids and to an area of calm water. It was pretty entertaining to watch. They were Class III Rapids we faced. That night the local Knights of Columbus organization sponsored our dinner and snacks.

Uniontown > Cumberland ~60 miles. Now this is where things started getting fun again. After weeks and weeks of seeing flats and averaging 0 ft of elevation change, we finally got our challenge. Boy was it a challenge. I rode with Matt Docimo (Houston) and Kyle Marpe (Purdue) that day. We made it a point to be the first to finish that day. We were killing it on the bike. I was hurting but kept fighting and kept it to myself so I didn’t weigh the guys down. We passed Amish country and cut off several Horse and Carriages. Some of us ran over horse dung in the middle of the road which wasn’t pleasant. We pulled in to one of our last crew stops and were red flagged with the 2 other pace lines in front of us.  We finally made it in to a new YMCA facility and were able to take a nap on their indoor soccer field. It was actually one of the best naps I’ve had on the trip.

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Yes, that’s a horse and carriage on the road. It felt like a scene out of “Les Miserables”.

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That photo was taken on a hill that we hit 45 mph on. There was a cop up ahead and had we not stopped to take this photo, we probably would’ve been pulled over for speeding in a 30.

Cumberland > Hagerstown ~75 miles. What would have been a really tough day turned out to be a really fun one. Our paceline was slowly approached by the paceline behind and before we knew it we caught up to the one in front. We were all talking crap and having fun then we started talking about forming a peloton. We nicknamed it the pelican and slowly gained 20 cyclists to our paceline. Crew wasn’t too happy about it but they let us have our fun when they realized we were safe about it and it was one of our last rides together. We rode through extremely thick fog.  The fact that we were all together probably helped our visibility 😉 We had a blast all riding together. Here’s some of the photos that we caught-

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This is one of the signs we saw on our decent. Notice the “ditch trucks” comment. It made for a GREAT downhill.

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Hagerstown > Bethesda ~78 miles. I rode with Stephen Blythe (Tenn) and Matt Docimo (Houston) on this day. We were sweeps so we had to stay behind everyone in the group. We experienced 7 pacelines that got flat tires in front of us. At one point we were stopped for 30 minutes. It was really tough to get into rhythm this day having to continuously start and stop but we pushed through and finished. It came to the point where we had to cover 45 miles in 2 hours if we wanted to make rack point. Luckily we skimmed by and made it to lodging. It was a tough but great last ride. It was pretty emotional for all of us as our last real ride of the trip.

So that’s it for all the rides. It was an incredible feat to accomplish and I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t have 34 of the bestest friends to do it with.

Be sure to read my next post about DC for an entire recap of arrival and the trip!

Thanks for reading!

Sanjeev

No bad attitudes

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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As you can see by the photo below, we’ve come a really really long way.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Those ladies performed “Girls Just wanna have fun” in their 80’s attire.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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Unfortunately there was no state sign for Ohio so I had to settle on the Toledo one.

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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.

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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!!!

Sanjeev

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

The case of the missing thank you cards

Greetings from Rockford, IL!

Since my last post we’ve made it from Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids to Iowa City to Davenport to Dubuque and now into Rockford, Illinois!

Des Moines > Marshalltown (~68 miles). We had a real fun ride. The night before we were looking at photo albums from the 00, 01, and 03 North and Trans America Routes at Dave Addicks house. In one of the photos we saw guys chugging redbull’s so we decided to do the same the next morning. We all went to a nearby gas station and stocked up on redbull’s. We rode up 10 miles to the first crew van the next day and a bunch of us shot-gunned our redbull’s. You can tell that we’re running out of stuff to keep us entertained on these rides.

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That’s myself, Beau Samples (Miami Univ) and Jason Milliken (also Miami Univ) chugging down out redbull’s.

It was a fairly short ride and we finished in a matter of 3.5 hours. After our ride we went to a water park to hang out with a local special needs group. Here’s the group with our new buddy, Oscar. It was a pretty relaxing time. We got to hang out in the lazy river and practice our diving board skills (or in my case, lack thereof).

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We had a jam packed day and after our water park adventure we went to a local bowling alley to hang out with the Marshalltown ARC. We ate some awesome BBQ and bowled our hearts out. I hit a stretch where I hit 3 strikes in a row and our team had one round where everyone hit a strike. We named our team the “Strike Squad”. Here’s the Strike Squad- Mike, myself, Grant, and Tim.

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Marshalltown > Cedar Rapids (~90 miles). This was a real tough ride for me. I just started feeling under the weather and was hampered with a cough. A lot of guys have been getting sick lately and I’ve been the latest victim. It was a tough ride with a lot of rolling hills. After we got to lodging we had another friendship visit with the ARC of East Central Iowa. It was a hot, hot, hot day. I’m pretty sure all of us soiled our shirts with sweat. Here’s some photos of us at the dance party.

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Cedar Rapids > Iowa City (~30 miles). This was a crazy easy ride. We finished in just over 2 hours. It was a pretty nice ride in to the Old State Capitol. Since we arrived so early we had a few hours to crash at a local park. Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa so it was cool getting a chance to explore the college town. We had a double pace line arrival into the Old State Capitol and got introduced to the ARC of Southeast Iowa. They were great and very energetic people. We had some time to take a quick nap before we went off and had dinner with them. Here’s a photo of Erin and I after the friendship visit. She’s arguably one of my favorite people this whole trip.

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Iowa City > Davenport (~64 miles). This ride was on July 17th. This day was a special one for the Theta Delta Chapter of Pi Kappa Phi. It marks the birthday of our fallen brother, Anthony Perez. He passed away in a tragic accident while president of our fraternity. The team dedicated our ride that day to Tony P. and kept him and his family in our prayers.

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The ride was great. It was another hot and humid day. I was still hampered by the cough but fought through it and finished in decent time. After our ride we went to another water park and hung out with a local special needs group. There must have been at least 40-50 people in their group, so you can imagine how much of a great time we had.

Davenport > Dubuque (~97 miles). This originally started as an 80 mile day but after reroute after reroute we ended up biking 97 miles. It was one of the hottest days at over 110 degrees and probably 95% humidity. It was definitely one of the most physically challenging days on the bike. We would be climbing a hill for miles then turn a corner thinking it was the top but we just to continued to climb and climb. I easily drank over a dozen bottles of water and had to wipe the sweat off my face countless times. With the support of our crew, and each other we finally pulled into lodging dripping in sweat. I’m really happy to say our team made it and stuck through.

Later that day we drove over to where the movie “Field of Dreams” with Kevin Costner was filmed. If you don’t remember the film a couple of famous lines are “Is this heaven? No it’s Iowa” and “if you build it, they will come“. It was pretty fun learning about the history of the land and getting to play a quick game of baseball. Here’s some photos.

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That night we had an awesome friendship visit with the Albrecht Acres Camp. It was a dance party and boy, did we dance. I had to change clothes halfway through the visit because I was sweating so much.

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Today we rode into Rockford, IL. It was supposed to be a 105 mile ride but due to time restrictions we had to cut the ride short around mile 80. After our hot and sweaty ride, we drove over to the Sportsplex of Rockford to work with a local special needs group. First we had a mummy contest. It was to see who can dress the best mummy. I’m pretty sure our team won.

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After that I got to hang out with my new friend Christy! She then proceeded to pie me in the face at least 8 times.

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Tomorrow we head to Waukesha, WI on a 95 mile ride. It rained tonight so we know tomorrow will be a bit muggy and humid. It marks day 3 of this crazy 3 day/ over 300-mile ride stretch and marks our 11th consecutive day on the bike without a day off. Needless to say, we can’t wait to get a day off and rest.

Thanks for reading, and sorry for any typos and grammatical errors! Also thank you to everyone who has donated and helped make this trip happen for me. It truly has been the best summer of my life.

P.S. I mailed out a good number of thank you cards in Colorado that apparently never got delivered. I’m trying to get to the bottom of the situation, but rest assured one will be in the mail soon for you! So sorry for the delay to those expecting one!

Adios!!!

Sanjeev

My fraternity

Hey readers!

Since my last post we’ve made it from Omaha, Nebraska and now into Iowa through Griswold and Des Moines.

Before I get into how my last few days were, I want to share a poem that was read by our Project Manager, Nick Brady, last night in Griswold.

MY FRATERNITY

(Remarks to the 2004 Journey of Hope Arrival Banquet, by T.J. Sullivan)

For some, fraternity is a house. A structure of walls and rooms where men live and pass time.

But my fraternity has no walls, except perhaps the rock walls of Loveland Pass at the Continental Divide, or the walls of corn in Iowa, the skyscrapers in Chicago, the orange girders of the Golden Gate Bridge, the relentless climb of Kirkwood.

For some men, fraternity is a collection of photos on a wall.

But for me, it’s the photos taken by the disposable camera I keep in my back jersey pocket. It’s the photos taken in front of the welcome signs as we cross state borders. It’s the countless snapshots taken with clients with smiles so wide you can see every tooth and most of the gums.

It’s the fireworks on the Fourth of July in a corner of America I’ve never seen before.

It’s the stories in the newspapers, and answering the same reporter’s question, “Tell me what you guys are doing exactly?” for the hundredth time.

It’s shaving EVERY DAY, remembering to zip up my jersey, remove my sunglasses, tuck in my shirt, and smile for the photos that will hang in homes and offices for years after I leave this place.

For some men, fraternity is in the parties or in a cup of beer.

For me, it’s in the gallons and gallons of water that sustain me. It’s in spotting the support vehicle every five miles or so, where I can always count on a word of encouragement. It’s in the songs that play over and over on the FM radio stations that become the soundtrack of my summer.

It’s in the faces of the kids who talk to puppets like they are real people. It’s in preparing meals or shopping in different grocery stores every day so that my guys will stay healthy enough to ride tomorrow. It’s in the children asking for autographs, and kind, incredible strangers who reach out to thank me for coming, when really, they are the ones who should be thanked.

It’s in the cry of excitement I hear from the girl in the wheelchair as I ride up for the picnic.

For some men, fraternity is the pin on the shirt or the trophies in the case.

But my fraternity is in the proclamations in the dozens of small towns celebrating our arrival. It’s in the trucks that move one lane to the left and honk their horns to say hello. It’s in the spaghetti dinner prepared by people I’ve never met, or the grease mark that just won’t scrub off my leg. It’s in the gym floors where I sleep and the lump in my throat of the volunteer who says goodbye and “see you next summer.”

It’s maintaining my place in the pace line, making my way to the front, where the wind is stronger.

For some men, fraternity is in the party that ends in the early hours of the morning.

For my fraternity, it’s in the sunrises. It’s in those quiet hours in the Nevada desert or through the Ohio farmland when the world is asleep, and all you hear is the sound of a dog barking some distance away.

It’s in my t-shirt that desperately needed a wash two days ago, and now is simply disgusting. It’s in smiling my way through my second or third flat tire of the day.

For some men, fraternity is about impressing sororities.

But for me, it’s in the cards and packages that wait for me at the next mail drop, especially the ones with the stickers and magic marker hearts all over them. It’s about the volunteer in Nebraska who hugs me like she’s always known me. It’s about getting our butts kicked in wheelchair basketball. It’s in anticipating the look on my mom’s face as I ride on the grounds of the Capitol, and the pride in my dad’s voice while he waits patiently for mom to let go.

For some men, fraternity is about getting another event t-shirt.

But for me, fraternity is forgetting that I’m standing in front of a few thousand people in a baseball stadium, wearing Spandex. It’s riding next to Bruce Rogers into Denver, pinching myself because I’m riding next to the guy who started it all.

It’s in the phone calls from my girlfriend who understood how important this was to me. Or, in the admiration of my chapter brothers, and my real-life brother who thinks I’m cool.

It’s dancing with the young woman with the walker who makes me blush when she shamelessly hits on me.

For some men, fraternity is about pledge class unity, or leadership positions.

But for me, it’s glancing in my left rear view mirror for the first cyclist to appear as I wait alone on a roadside. It’s that moment when I realize that these guys riding beside me have become my family, and that soon this incredible journey will be a memory.

It’s about those times when we get off the bikes and just look out at a piece of scenery so breathtaking that no one says a word. Then, one guy turns away to wipe his eyes with his forearm and says, “Let’s get back on the bikes, fellas.

It’s about arriving at the end and wanting in some small way to turn around and do it again. Or in the relief in the eyes of the staff members and crew who have prayed every night for my safe return.

For some men, fraternity is about four years.

But my fraternity goes for miles and miles on two thin wheels.

I’m a Pi Kappa Phi, and I have learned the true meaning of fraternity.

I am a Pi Alpha.

A lot of my friends and family have asked me about the summer and my experiences so far. It’s been really tough putting it to words. Although we’re not there yet, I think this poem really does this experience justice.

So back to my last few days!

Lincoln, Nebraska. We hadn’t yet visited our friendship visit when I uploaded my last post so here’s what it was like. It was a real, real long day on the bike. ~105 minus a chunk due to construction. We were all exhausted and could barely stay awake. We managed to dig deep and make it to dinner with the Sertoma Club and then dance our hearts off at a friendship visit. We were dancing until about 9 pm and probably would’ve stayed longer if we could. Here’s a photo of my dancing buddy.

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We also managed to squeeze in a few minutes to visit the Mu chapter of Pi Kappa Phi (Nebraska) and tour their house. A group if us made it out to their football stadium and managed to get a photo. Here’s Jason Milliken (Univ of Miami at Ohio), Austin Shepard (FSU), myself, and Kyle Marpe (Purdue) at the stadium.

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Lincoln > Omaha ~55 miles. The ride was a fairly pleasant one (besides the 2 flat tires). (Side note- I need more inner tubes and there’s 2 more mail drops! Lol). We had a grand arrival into the city. We were greeted by Nia (our friend from Grand Island) and the Spina Bifida/Willis of Nebraska for a Carnival. The carnival was a great time and we got to learn a lot about Spina Bifida. The carnival went great and I got to meet a new friend, Rory.

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After the carnival we went to a luau themed friendship visit. We played limbo for a while and danced for god knows how long.

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That’s Michael Walton (TCU) and I. I tried to collect the most lei’s but obviously got beat by my project manager (below).

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Iowa (pronounced ‘eye-whaa’). Only way I can describe this state so far is hills and more hills. You look to the left and there’s corn and you look to the right and there’s more corn.

Omaha, NE > Griswold, IA. ~58 miles. We made it to lodging at a retreat cabin and managed to get a little rest before heading to the swimming hole/quarry and dinner at Dave Addicks (ΠΑ 00,01,03) parents’ home. The quarry was great. Had some time off to lounge around in the water and mess around on the rope swing.

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While in Griswold we decided to sit and do a “Pass the Polar Bottle” (our version of the ‘Pass the gavel’ ritual) and reflected on our experiences so far. We all spoke about cherishing the moment and these relationships. We noted that time has flown since we left San Francisco and it will only continue to speed by. We all can attest that the men who left SF are not the men we are today. This trip has made us grow physically, emotionally, and mentally and we have all become greater men from it. This is where our PM recited that poem to us. I know we were all taken back for a moment and truly felt connected with T.J. Sullivan’s words. That night the cabin wasn’t air conditioned and was probably 100 degrees inside. A dozen of us decided to sleep outside underneath the stars in the field by the cabin. There’s nothing quite like the stars on a dark night hundreds of miles away from any city lights.

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Griswold > Des Moines ~96 miles. Wow what a ride. After countless hills and 6 hours on the saddle we made it in to lodging. The ride was pretty neat. We passed by the birthplace of John Wayne and snapped a photo with a statue. Here’s myself, Chris Stubel (Georgia Tech), and Saurabh Mehta (Univ of Miami At Ohio) with the John Wayne statue.

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Lastly here’s a photo of Chris Stubel again as we were zipping down a hill. Thought I’d snap a photo of the terrain.

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Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the post! If you haven’t donated already, please please please donate!

‘Til next time!

Sanjeev

Halfway done

Day 35/67! Officially over halfway completed with our journey. I’m at a mix of emotions right now. Part of me is really excited to know that we only have 31 days left until we arrive in DC but part of me is sad that we’re coming close to our end. We’ve made countless new friends and have endless amounts of stories. Right now our team is in Lincoln, NE. Since my last post we’ve ridden through Fort Morgan and Wray Colorado and have now entered into Nebraska via McCook, Minden, Grand Island and now Lincoln. This post is a bit overdue but as you’ll see, it’s been an eventful week!

Our last day in Denver was capped off with a Push America and Special Olympics of Colorado tradition- Pedals for Pennies. An event where Special Olympians cycle with us around a track and fundraise dollars for every lap they complete. Our team was Mike Walton (Texas Christian Univ), myself, and our new buddy Mark. Mark was tied with the most laps completed at 11. Here’s a photo of us after a long day of cycling.

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I also got to meet with a great role model and mentor- T.J. Sullivan. T.J. Is the author of “Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizations“. T.J. is also a brother of Pi Kappa Phi and previously completed Gear Up Florida. I was glad to see him and his awesome son Tim. Here’s a photo of us at the Pedals for Pennies event.

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Our ride from Denver to Fort Morgan took place on July 4th. It was a lengthy 98 mile ride but after we got in I managed to squeeze in a quick nap before our dinner with the Elks Lodge of Ft. Morgan. That night we went out by a county fair to watch Independence Day fireworks. It was a great way to spend the 4th of July- surrounded by brothers and singing along to anything and everything.

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Ft. Morgan to Wray was about 90 miles. We booked it to make it in to lodging before noon. We stayed at the Wray Rehabilitation and Activities Center (WRAC). We had some free time to crash the water park next door and relax. After some time off we had a dinner hosted by the local Boy Scouts group. We performed our puppet show for them and played some sports. They were the wildest and craziest kids we’ve ever hung out with.

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Our project manager, Nick Brady, has his profile photo of the “gladiator” pose in a wheat field so we all thought it’d be hilarious to copy him and take a photo with the same pose.

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Wray to McCook, NE was an extremely fun ride. Not only did we cross into Nebraska but the team also took a detour into Kansas to take a photo at the state line. That day me and my paceline partner, Chris Stubel (Georgia Tech) were feeling good and riding as hard and fast as possible. At mile 88/96 we were in the lead and I accidentally went off-roading in the gravel and into the grass. Luckily I didn’t fall or get injured, but unfortunately we lost the lead and I got a flat tire. I rushed to fill it up and jumped back on the bike. I was in such a rush that I didn’t notice a bulge in the tire. I was out of Co2 and tubes and just wanted to finish. The bulge caused my ride to be extremely bumpy. I figured it was only 8 miles so I’d ride through it. Sure enough half a mile out of lodging I got another flat as we turned to ride up a steep hill. I said screw it, I didn’t want to lose our 2nd place finish and stop again so I rode up the hill with a flat tire on a cobblestone road. Writing this post made me realize that it was probably a dumb idea but at the time it was worth it. That night our teammate Stephen Blythe’s (Univ. of Tennessee) parents sponsored a movie for us to watch as a team. We saw Despicable Me 2 and we all absolutely loved it.

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McCook to Minden was another 96 mile day. This time I rode with Jeff Watson (Univ. of Colorado). We were on a mission to finish first and no one could stop us. Jeff pushed me to my physical limits to keep up with him at 24 mph. After we took the lead around mile 30 we stayed there until the end. When we stopped for lunch, the closest paceline was 20 minutes behind us. We rode hard and fast and nothing would stop me from finally finishing first this time. We got in to lodging super early and decided to cap off the ride with another 4 miles to make it a century day. We rode over to a Subway and treated ourselves to Ice Cream. The town was extremely small. Only 1 gas station in the whole town and the only places to grab a bite were a Pizza Hut and a Subway. Pizza Hut sponsored our awesome dinner and we got back to lodging early enough to have a 5-on-5 basketball tournament. The tournament was great. We finished 2-2 in a double elimination tournament bracket. I think the most memorable part of the stop over was the water. The pipes were rusted.

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Seeing that made me wonder when my last tetanus shot was. All in all, Minden was a great stop (besides the water, of course).

Minden to Grand Island, Nebraska. This was a short 50 mile ride in pure flat land. It’s everything like what I trained for (besides all the corn). We all made it a point to sprint through the ride and finish fast. We rode so quick we got in to town before 10. We had a grand arrival and police escort into lodging. We were greeted by local news channels, newspapers, city council members, and the ARC of Nebraska (a local community organization serving people with disabilities).

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In terms of connection with the community, Grand Island, NE was by far one of the most gratifying visits. We spent 2 nights there as we were given the royal treatment from the ladies of Grand Island. It felt like we had more friendship visits than I have fingers and toes. We were fed like kings and given a comfy bed to sleep on at a hotel. The night we arrived we had a dance party with the local community. I probably felt more sore after dancing than I did from the 50 mile ride in.

We were featured on the front cover of the local newspaper! Check it out!

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We made a lot of great new friends in Grand Island.

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That’s Brad. He’s Grand Island’s arm wrestling extraordinaire. Those bananas were a part of a bet on the guys at his table to eat them all. It was pretty funny to watch.

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That’s Craig. He’s Brad’s best friend. Both Brad and Craig spent the whole 2 days with us and were incredibly happy to have us in Grand Island.

Back in the 90’s Push America gave the city of Grand Island a grant to help build an accessible park for people with disabilities. Ever since, the connection between the city and Push has been inseparable. The Build America team in 2008 had a project to help beautify the park and stop in Grand Island every year. The park has a rich Push America and Pi Kappa Phi history and it’s great to see the work older brothers have out in to the town.

The hosts were the people of the Arc of Central Nebraska. The three women in the photo with me below (Sue, Tammy, Andrea) hosted for over 20 + years and turned it over to Brad and Craig’s mothers (Kathy and Julie) three years ago. Their organization has been doing the fundraising, planning and hosting duties for our arrival into Grand Island.

Brad and Craig’s mother’s took great care of our team and made sure we felt right at home. Sue, Tammy, and Andrea also still do an incredible amount of work to host us. We (and previous teams) know them as the lovely ladies of Grand Island.

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Here’s some more photos of the awesome people of Grand island.

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That’s Shelby, she kind of looks like Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

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That’s Nia, another great resident of Grand Island!

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And that’s Alyssa, Shelby’s sister!

So now we’re here in Lincoln, NE. It was supposed to be a 105 mile day but we had to get racked and moved past a dangerous construction area that cut a chunk of mileage off. We got back on after the construction and rode towards Downtown Lincoln. Raising Cane’s hosted us for a great lunch. It was some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. It was one of the most delicious lunches after a ride. We’re going to walk around the University of Nebraska and grab some Red Mango.

Thanks for reading and sorry for any spelling and grammar errors! Again, these posts are done on my cell phone while on the road! Next stop, Omaha!

Sanjeev