Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sea 2 Shining Sea

Last week I headed south to Champaign, IL to ride a segment with a group of disabled Vets (17-20) that are raising awareness and funds for our disabled Veterans by riding bicycles from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. I signed up as a guest rider a few weeks ago.

5 hrs. down to Normal, IL from my house where a mtb friend let me crash for the night. Taken at a wayside about half way down.
Right after the wayside, hit some nasty localized thunder storms.

Hiding out under an overpass before the bridge that spans the Illinois River near Peru, IL. Waiting for the storm to pass by.
Got up at 4:30 to make the trip from Normal to Champaign where the start was.

One of the riders is Scott Bilyeu, who is married to the niece of my brother's wife and happens to be the same age as our oldest son. Scott suffered severe head injuries when a Black Hawk chopper he was in crashed in Afghanistan a few years ago.

Here is Scott's story and info on other riders and their cause, Sea2ShiningSea.

We covered 77 miles in 92 degree temps with the heat index at or above 100. Plenty of water stops and had a great lunch setup in Covington, IN.
These guys and gals are inspiring. Got to talk to a few of them and Scott and I had plenty of time to talk as we rode together all day, so he filled me in on a few, as well.

The towns people were great as were the local law enforcement as they provided escorts and increased the awareness of safety to the motorized vehicles that we met along the route.
State Farm Insurance is the main sponsor. They allowed employees to take off work to man water stops that also had all the energy drinks and foods and of course, "the little white pills" we all craved as our electrolytes were literally running out of us in the hot weather.

Scott and I at the finish in Crawfordsville, IN.
2 Vets on the left and State Farm employee, Sharon on the right, that was the stoker on a tandem that did the ride. Sharon and I caught a ride back to the start (and my ride home!) from another State Farm employee, Andy. State Farm did and is doing a great job with the event. Can't say enough about their vision and effort in sponsoring this event in the professional way they're doing it.
Left Champaign for home, a 6-7 hr. drive on the in at 11:30 PM after riding through a couple mild showers. Made for a pretty long day!

Of course I had to use my Salsa mtn bike to try to keep up with the nice road bikes they had and I really paid for it the last 10 miles or so...... and the next day as well for that matter!!! Was pretty stiff and sore. Hadn't been on a bike for close to 3 weeks.
Man, those Vets getting up every day and going at it again...I couldn't have gone out the next day! Disabled??? I felt like the disabled one after riding with this crew!

Guess where I spent my lunch hour? (Thank goodness for home offices AND lunch hour!)

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