Day 17: Atlanta, GA, to Carrollton, GA

Sorry for not updating the blog recently! A lot has happened in this past week, and with a mix of no wifi and just being too busy, I haven’t had a chance to blog. But, I will try to fill you all in as best as possible.

After Gastonia, we made our way to Clemson University, where we were able to camp for the night. It was our first time camping, but we were right on the lake, and had the chance to talk with some cool grad school students playing guitar and chilling on the dock there. We ate out at the Mellow Mushroom that night, and I had probably one of the best pizzas I’ve ever consumed.

We then made our way to Athens, GA, for the next day, after spending some more time in Clemson the next morning. Athens holds the University of Georgia, which houses a Catholic Church some of us were able to attend this past Sunday. It was really refreshing getting some time in that Church with a renewing message to strengthen us for the trip.

After Athens, we went to Atlanta, where we were able to start our rest weekend. We stayed really close to Georgia Tech, where a friend of mine, David Hanna, currently goes to grad school. I met up with him for lunch at an Arabic restaurant, which was fantastic. It was great seeing a familiar face in a distant city!

The following day in Atlanta, we had a service where we visited and helped at a Hope Lodge. Essentially, these are locations where cancer patients can stay for some time while they are getting treatment, if their homes are a considerable distance from their treatment center. This specific Hope Lodge was at Emory University, and we did a lot of chores that involved cleaning, amounting to an equivalent of about $3,000 of work, according to a manager there. Considering it was all volunteering, our work really did go a long way, and helped make the “no-cost” aspect of the Hope Lodge much more possible for cancer patients. I am really moved by this, considering the fact that cancer patients go through so much already during their treatment.

That night, we were able to go to an Atlanta Braves game! It was really cool seeing a professional baseball game, considering I had never seen one before. It was also great bonding with the team at Turner Field.

Finally, this morning, we got back on our bikes and biked to Carrollton, GA. It was a 50 mile day, but it really was not too bad. It was a great transition after a rest weekend.

Tomorrow, I’ll post pictures, there are a lot!

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Day 11: Rockingham, NC, to Gastonia, NC – the FIRST CENTURY

Hey all! I need to go to bed, but today I rode a century! For those of you who do not know what that means, that’s a 100 mile bike ride. I honestly can’t believe I did it, but we got here in Gastonia at an Episcopalian Church, and the meal and hospitality received was absolutely wonderful. We ate grilled chicken, loads of ice cream and waffles, pasta, bread, really the works.

If you look at my calf, the word GMA is written, short for Grandma. We dedicate our rides to someone every day, and the day we rode from Fayeteville to Rockingham, I dedicated the ride to my Grandma who died from throat cancer last year.

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Yesterday, we also got a police escort into Rockingham, a small little town into North Carolina. Here is a silly pic of some guys on our team up against the police car.

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This picture is just one I took on my GoPro. Gives you a glimpse of the scenery and I thought it was pretty cool!

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Day 8: Rest Day in Raleigh, NC

Well, we are in Raleigh, NC and I can’t believe we all biked here from Baltimore! We are staying at a man named Dean Hallberg’s house, and it is quite the weekend. He is so hospitable and told us that there are “no rules” in his house. We also found a canvas with all our pictures cut out on it. He really makes us feel at home here.

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More importantly, his inspiration to us has been unbelievable. He lost both his first and second wife to cancer, and the struggle he has dealt with has been astronomical. Yesterday, we all shared our own stories in his living room about why we are doing this journey this summer, and the tears, hope, and community we formed was truly surreal. Afterward, I talked to him personally a little more, and found out that he was born and raised in Minnesota, and had relations to South Dakota as well. We talked about cycling, a little bit about our backgrounds, and just generally chatting. Such a nice guy. This has been a really renewing weekend so far.

Unfortunately, I believe I have contracted a stomach virus starting this past Thursday. It was probably those freaking crab cakes that looked so good at the time. I can barely eat a meal without feeling sick and could hardly ride my bike without feeling dizzy. Hopefully by tomorrow, I am somewhat good shape to bike, even though we will be going 85 miles.

Anyway, during our time in Raleigh, we got the chance to visit NC State University, and overall see the layout of the city. We didn’t have the chance to go downtown, but overall, Raleigh is a pretty cool place. So far, other than my stomach virus snafu, the biking has really not been too bad. It is fun riding in groups of 3 or 4, the mileage has not been terrible, and the landscapes and images we have seen have been pretty wonderful. I know I haven’t updated y’all on the past few days, but so far we have been in Farmville and South Boston. Here are some pics of our trip along the way:

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The above pic I believe is from our ride from Petersburg to Farmville. We had a beautiful route to ride, and there was a beautiful pond near our water stop where we took this picture. Though this was a 70 mile day, it really was a beautiful and fun ride. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pics from Farmville to South Boston, because my handlebar mount broke, but I also did start feeling sick that day and was not in too much of a picture mood.

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From South Boston to Raleigh, I was in charge of the water van with another girl, and our job was to deliver water to all the riders. This day was pretty crazy because all the riders were so far spread apart and there were so many mechanical problems that occurred. Not to mention, the route sheet was pretty inaccurate anyway. However, everything worked out despite the frustration and stress, and arriving at the host was glorious. Anyways, sorry for the disorganization and rambling of this blog, but this is all that has happened so far!

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Day 4: Richmond, VA, to Petersburg, VA

Scenery Riding to Fredericksburg Sorry I haven’t updated y’all in the past few days, but I have been pretty lazy/exhausted from the biking. We are currently in Petersburg, VA, after spending earlier in the day exploring Richmond a little bit. It was a short ride today (about 25 miles), so that was nice. However, our pace was between 18-22 mph. We were booking it, which was both challenging and awesome. I put the picture above just to show my view when I am biking. That ride was when we were riding to Fredericksburg, which involved taking mostly highways looking like the one above. However, our routes have also gone through winding roads in beautiful forests, which is great for observing the scenery!

It is mind-boggling that we have even traveled this far on our route. Since leaving Baltimore, we have biked more than 200 miles, and I can definitely tell the change in landscape and culture even as I have left Maryland. I feel the Southern accent coming on, and the heat is getting more intense.

Virginia is also a very hilly state. With the ride to Richmond, the rolling hills did not stop. After we would climb up one hill, we would see another monster of a hill about a quarter mile ahead. Yet, we all finished, which tells me that really this route is possible no matter what. We just have to stay mentally motivated and remember who we are riding for.

That’s all for today, but I will keep you all posted with my future journeys!

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Day 1: Baltimore to Austin, TX

Just kidding about going to Austin, TX. But, today we biked about 60 miles to La Plata, MD. The big thing today was the send off ceremony. Really the best word to describe it  was surreal. It really did hit me once I figured out that I was actually biking across the country, and why exactly I was doing it. We dipped our back tires into the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, symbolic of the start of our journey. We will then dip our front tires into the Pacific Ocean near San Diego. I cannot fathom this voyage, but I know it has and will be done, for a cause that will influence so many beautiful people.

After we set out from the Inner Harbor, we got onto some main streets and were able to begin our ride. The route was fairly hilly, but the weather was about 75 with minimal wind. We got some very gracious food donations, and our host here is wonderful. I have a full stomach and am showered, and really that is all I can ask for. I got about 4 hours of sleep last night due to my awesome skills at punctuality with packing and really anything else. My excitement and nervousness also kept me from going to sleep at a reasonable time. Yet, I am here now, I somehow biked 60 miles (my longest bike ride to date!), and am content though tired.

Tomorrow, we have about a 50 mile day. I am definitely going to need to drench myself in sunscreen because I am a hue of red I didn’t know existed. I am still getting into the groove of things – getting to know everyone on my team better and figure out more logistical things – but everything is going ok right now. Stay posted for my future updates!

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Pilot Post

Well, I am currently writing out of my almost-dead laptop on my hotel bed, freshly woken up on my first morning in Baltimore. I have about 46 hours until I first set out on my bike with every other team involved in 4k for Cancer – a total of about 130 riders starting from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. I am both excited and nervous, but I know this summer will be one to remember.

Packing for this trip was quite the experience. We are limited to one duffel bag and one backpack for the summer, which means being a minimalist will be heavily favored. My sleeping bag and sleeping pad alone just about fill up the duffel bag, which makes packing everything else rather difficult. Hopefully I get into a rhythm packing everything in, or else I’ll just accept the carpal tunnel I’ll get from zipping up my bag every day. Anyway, I continually remind myself it’s not about the things I take, but the experiences I will have and the lives we all hope to change.

This is my first blog post, so my activity may be a bit irregular until I get accustomed to this whole setup. However, I will be sure to keep you all updated on what I am doing, and will be continually posting pictures of the U.S. as I make my way across it! I will also have a GoPro, so a video of my trek will also be underway. That is, if I ever learn how to work it (should probably figure that out pretty soon here). Make sure to communicate with me if you have any questions, and let me know if I can dedicate part of my ride to anyone dear to you that is dealing with or has passed away because of cancer.

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