Saturday, June 6, 2009

4K for Cancer: Days 1-7

Starting location: Baltimore, Maryland (Send-off: May 31st)
Current location: Cleveland, Ohio

The past 6 days have already blown past us! There is so much to tell and so little time...I only have limited internet access due to our random positioning each night. Some places have Wifi, but it's difficult to acquire computer usage since there are only a couple that are with us on the 4K.
Today we're in Cleveland, Ohio! It's our first day off, so here's a little re-cap of what's been going down since leaving Baltimore on Sunday...

Rain welcomed us at the back of Shriver Hall as we all met up to caravan down to the Inner Harbor. Caravaning is one of the coolest things we get to do while we're riding through the country. It basically entails all of us getting in a double line with one van in front and the other behind...kind of a bicycle parade, if you will. We get a sort of celebrity status as we pedal through busy cities and it keeps us all together without traffic nudging their way through and hurting anybody.

When we got to the Harbor, the rain had stopped, the clouds cleared, and the sun broke through just in time for us to dip our bikes in the harbor waters and then proceed towards Pennsylvania for the first day! Mileage that day was about 72 miles (?). Maryland is beautiful outside of the city- there are plenty of farms (which you pass a lot of throughout the east coast in general) and constantly rolling hills.

Water stops basically consist of small daily increments of intense team bonding. While shoving our faces, between 27 people we easily amuse ourselves without hesitation.

(Team "Ska-Doosh")

(PA Border!)

We made it to Waynesboro, Pennsylvania! However, in order to get there, we had to climb Blue Ridge Mountain's base. I've never climbed a mountain before on a bike...surprisingly we made it. The key is to find a steady cadance (the rate at which you turn your pedals). If you can find that niche then you're good to go. Once we made it to the top, I met my first big downhill. The grade was about 8% (I think). That's a pretty steep hill...and we reached a speed of about 40 miles an hour, maybe faster.
By the time we got into the town, we had suddenly started passing a vast array of food venues. Nicole and I spotted a billboard with a giant strawberry cheesecake on it, as well as a banner advertising the "Thickburger." I don't eat red meat, but we were so hungry at that point, I could've easily walked in there and chowed down on one.
Once we got into the church center where we slept for the night, we were greeted by the best pasta dinner I've ever laid witness to. That's one thing on the 4K: Food is a very crucial and constant part of our day. Each person will eat approximately 4-5,000 calories a day...and that's only in the beginning. As we near the end, especially the guys on the team, will pack down as much as 7,000 calories.
Monday and Tuesday:
The 2nd and 3rd days were full of mountain climbing, which has grown on me since then. However, after hearing rumors that our second day would be over 100 miles, I began to feel queasy. Of course, it wasn't 100 miles (maybe around 70-ish?) and we ended up climbing 3 mountains that day! Blue Ridge Mountain, Bald Knob Mountain (which provided for some humorous pictures at the summit sign) and another I can't remember. On the 3rd day, we finished the Allegheny Mountains after conquering Mount Laurel, which is well over 2,000 feet in elevation. The soreness was unbelievable. The worst part was stopping at our water stops...if you stay still too long, your muscles freeze up. Sometimes the most stretching you can possibly do won't help when you have to jump back on the bike and immediately begin to climb again.
The 4th day we landed in Butler, PA after a ridiculous amount of rain. HOWEVER, the weather's sourness was definitely matched by one of our teammates, Rebecca, who managed to finish her first ride of the 4K! After have difficulty for the past few days, she managed to finished her first ride on the worst day thus far. The rain was pelting us non-stop and downhills were dreaded when you had to be extra careful not to slip as you slowed down to a stop light and then start up again at the bottom of a hill. It was really the most beautiful time thus far.
Thursday and Friday:
Into Youngstown, Ohio the next day and yesterday into Cleveland were very kind to us and made for great muscle recovery. Ohio is FLAT. Oh so flat, but the roads are horrendous. Into Cleveland it was like we were mountain biking. Once we were 68 miles down, we had 3-ish miles to finish up through the city in a caravan formation.
We also had the most AMAZING hosts while in Youngstown. The food was unbelievable in volume and quality. It was like Thanksgiving dinner...but better.

Waiting for the vans in to caravan through Cleveland.

bringing us to TODAY! It's our day off and we've just gotten back from a little biking adventure through Cleveland. Nicole, Rob, Diana and I rode our bikes into a nice little hipster part of the city to venture out for a bike shop to pick up a few things. However, it ended up taking us past a market and weekend festival going on! After picking up our things, we walked around a bit, listened to some awesome folk music, and stopped at a great little coffee shop for an early dinner and coffee (of course). On our way back, Rob took a bit of a spill. However, on this trip, you learn to fall and do it with ease. There's no way you don't get through this trip without falling at least once. I'm just waiting for my turn...

Team names thus far (that I can remember): Each day we name our smaller groups that we go out with. Here are few that I can recall...
Team Ska-doosh
Team "Mega-Sore-A**" (think a dinasaur)
Team Warp Speed
Team Sexy

Also, here's a link to our "official" resident photographer's 4K photo website, Conor.

Stay tuned! I'm going to do my best to find a Wifi connection whenever possible...


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