Roanoke, VA

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

After a great nights rest in Virginia Techs dorm Payne Hall, we were excited for the supposed downhill ride to Roanoke and our 4-star hotel that awaited us there.

Getting ready to ride at Tech

Paul a chapter brother who will be riding next summer

Leaving around the drill field

Today we had two crew ride alongs and for it being there first time on road bikes the did pretty well. We had a very leisurely morning not departing Blacksburg until after 11 AM and took our time on the very scenic ride, the first ride that I was familiar with.

Epic railroad photos of the pink elephant members, notice the sweet wristbands that we got. The pink elephant is the name of our van, we're pretty awesome haha!

Pink Elephant

Pink Elephant riding photo

We arrived in Roanoke to Hotel Roanoke around 2, it's a gorgeous hotel that is owned by Virginia Tech and were kind enough to host us for the night. Michelle also met me in Roanoke and took me out to lunch at Mill Mountain Coffee downtown before we headed to the friendship visit for the evening.

Michelle and I outside Hotel Roanoke

For the evening we went to Pump-it-up and worked with the down syndrome association who rented the venue for the event. Michelle had a great time and really worked well with all of the children. The evening was awesome and it was another great friendship visit on the Journey. Tomorrow is a day off thanks gooodness!




BLACKSBURG, man oh man did it feel good to be in a familiar place. Today was a homecoming for me and it was tough, exhausting, and it felt amazing!

We had been told that today could be the toughest day on bike and with over 100 miles to go and a really hard day yesterday I was a little apprehensive about how the day would go. I was excited to get the day on the road and with a wonderful cooked breakfast we were ready to tackle the difficult day that we had ahead. Fitting for the day our crew chief played "Enter Sandman" by Metallica as we prepared to hit the road. The topography for the day looked like a heartbeat, up and down all day with what appeared to be a lot of climbing hitting the high point at 16 miles into the ride.

My legs hurt, physically drained and as if there was nothing left in them; the worrying feeling that I had gone too hard the day before into Beckley was proving to be true. At mile 16 I was cooked and right as I pulled my paceline including the other two tech boys over the summit I felt as if I was going to have to rack into my home town and wouldn't be able to complete one of the most important days on the trip.

Today the teammate aspect of the trip really showed through as my teammates pulled me through 40 of the toughest miles of the trip. As we began to draw closer to Virginia and I began seeing roads I recognized and see mileages for towns I found my second wind and finally was ready to ride hard and fast to Blacksburg. The hills continued all day and we topped our total ascent in a day for the trip by over 1800 feet!

The roads today were awesome including huge descents and gorgeous winding roads under tree cover that formed a canopy shading us from the sun. Not only was the day 103 miles to begin with but the crew missing a turn and letting us go 3 miles before they recognized we were missing added 6 miles to our day and a trip back up a very steep hill after blowing past the Virginia state line sign on the way down we added another 2 miles making the day 111 miles.

We went back up a hill to take this photo

We were so excited as we rode into campus that we almost left the last two members of our paceline but waited to finish the day as a team the way we started.

Today was also special for me because my girlfriend Michelle drove to see us, it was the first familiar face I've seen all trip and really made my day. We showered quickly and headed to Steppin' Out, the downtown Blacksburg street fair that happens the first weekend of August every summer. The town mayor came and recognized us and declared today as Push America day in Blacksburg.

Our welcoming party at stepping out and some of my chapter brothers

We had dinner together and then spent the rest of the evening relaxing and enjoying the festivities Blacksburg had to offer.


Beckley, WV

Monday, August 10, 2009

The beginning of two torturous days over the Appalachian mountains today was a great day on the bike but I'm afraid I went to hard today and won't have enough left for Blacksburg. I rode in a paceline of three today which was tons of fun but also meant that we split the workload between three less people. My legs felt great today and the thought of being in Blacksburg in two days really had me fired up riding fast.

Today was full of rolling hills and several steep climbs. My pace line took the day fairly easy and since we avoided any major mechanical issues finished about 15 minutes in front of the next paceline giving us time to relax. We prepared for arrival at Mountain State University where they had prepared delicious fruit for us and we moved into the dorms for the evening.

Arrival at Mountain State University

Danny and I headed a few blocks over to the closest bike shop, we managed to find several huge hills between the dorm and the bike shop that we were less than enthused to ride after 70 miles of riding. After the bike shop the three tech boys decided to clean our whips for our homecoming tomorrow. I only cleaned about half of my bike when the crew chief came and found me to go scout the first few miles of tomorrows ride. We were pushing our time limit before we left hoping that we'd have time to scout and make it back to shower before heading out for our evening friendship visit when Murphy's Law held true and we got caught in traffic due to an accident. 2 hours after our departure and a few back country detour roads we made it back to shower and head to the friendship visit with Mountain State Center of Independent Living (the same organization that we worked with in Huntington) for which we were unfortunately very late for.

Jeremy present a grant check

The team enjoyed lasagna and salad and I had the privilege of speaking with one the founders of the organization who informed me about some of the projects they were working on. After dinner the team returned to lodging for about an hour before departing for evening entertainment provided by a connect at MSCIL.

Upon arriving at the "evening entertainment" we instantly knew we were in for a good time as we heard loud engines and fans cheering, we were at a dirt racing track in West Virginia; perfect!
We received pit passes which was really cool since most of the guys had never been around a race track, let alone had an opportunity to walk in the pits and see the cars up and close.

A night at the races!

Blacksburg tomorrow and a very tough ride from what I hear, I can't wait!


Charlestown, WV

Saturday, August 8, 2009

An abrupt awakening this morning at 5:11 AM by my roommate and team crew chief letting us know that we had overslept by 11 minutes and we needed to hustle to get out of the hotel room put the day into gear, until I let him know that wake up wans’t until 6 AM and that he was not my favorite person in the world right then. After our second wake up we enjoyed two breakfasts this morning both the hotels snacks that were set out as well as the crew chief breakfast who I still hadn’t forgiven at that point in the day.

The ride out of Huntington was hairy and mostly city riding for the first 15 miles until we hit the familiar West Virginia back country road full of dogs, loud trucks, and gorgeous scenery that seemed an eternity away just a few months ago.

A tricky section of road around mile 35 required the pacelines to stack up and double paceline over a bridge about 5 miles from our arrival and friendship visit.

Today was a truly amazing friendship visit with Children's Therapy Clinic of W. VA. The clinic provides speech , occupational, and physical therapies to individual free of charge. They share a facility with the American Red Cross and run solely from private donations. We had a friendship visit with about a dozen of the children who utilize this amazing clinic and couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear as these children are so fun and positive it makes you overwhelmed with joy. I had lunch with Emma (6) who’s sister Elizabeth (8) was in a wheel chair and had been attending the clinic for several years going from depending on the wheel chair to walking with crutches. The facilities for the occupational therapy were very cool including a ball pit and swing for client sensory feel development. After eating entirely too much pizza at lunch the team reluctantly got back on the bikes and completed the remaining 12 miles of the ride including a very large, very steep hill that we climbed for the second time and arrived at the MLK community center in downtown Charleston around 1:30.

Children's Therapy Clinic

Elizabeth and the guys

Once showered we made the usual errands and many members of the team chose to clean our bike after punishment they had received in the rain the past few days. The team headed towards downtown for dinner at the Appalachian Power minor league baseball field. We enjoyed all you eat burgers, hot dogs, and BBQ chicken that we as usual ate too much of.


Huntington, W. VA

Rain, rain, rain that’s what it did all day today and we enjoyed every minute of it. Today began a lot like yesterday with %90 chance of rain for the early half of the day and it managed to stop just as we arrived in Huntington. I was soaked for the better half of the day with my fingers pruned and wrinkled for the rest of.

The rain really made the miles fly by and before we knew it our paceline had put 42 miles behind us and were asking for lunch to be at lodging where it would be dry. The rest of the ride went by in a blur of water in my face from the man’s tire in front of me. I didn’t have to drink much today as most of my water intake came from the road and as one of the guys on the team put it “the road tastes pretty good today, I’m actually not even that hungry for lunch since I’ve been eating road debris all morning."

Only one more state line to cross!
We arrived in Huntington around 1:30 and were happy to hear that we were staying the Holiday Inn tonight and would have warm showers and beds after a day of being soaked. My first action of business before evening showering and getting out of my soaking wet clothes was to head to the Verizon store right next to hotel to pick up a new phone since the trip consumed another one of my personal items, this time it being a broken screen on the phone. After squaring away my means of contact to the outside world and making my daily errands finding a Starbucks and bike shop I warmed up and enjoyed the amenities of a nice hotel.

The team spent the evening at Mountain State center for Independent living which assists individual with disabilities in many ways including job partnering programs, city accessibility issues, and obviously assisted living funding. We enjoyed a wonderful catered Famous Dave’s BBQ dinner and meeting some of the amazing clients and employees from Mountain State.
We rounded the evening out with a trip to Coldstone Creamery and a $3 movie theater showing “Pelham 123” with Denzel Washing and John Travolta, how could you go wrong with those two? The movie was awesome and I’m so excited to be approaching the hometown of Blacksburg and the intimidating ride that awaits us from Beckley to Blacksburg!


Morehead, KY

The first day we we’re able to ride due to weather, today was an incredible day on the Journey of Hope just without the riding aspect. We awoke this morning to pouring rain and overcast skies that gloomed of a troubled day. After packing bags we anticipated the normal crew chief breakfast, another morning with a solo cup full of cereal and peanut butter on a bagel. We were pleasantly surprise when we heard that a sponsor had decided to send us all to McDonalds to get whatever we wanted from the breakfast menu.

Not exactly cycling fuel, delicious none the less

After a less than healthy breakfast we headed outside ready to jump on the bikes and begin our ride to Morehead. A lightning bold in the distance and the following thunder immediately postponed our departure by 30 minutes according to Push America policies and procedure. Another lightning strike, and another; finally our project manager sent us back to lodging to wait the storm out.

64 days into the trip today was one of the first opportunities we’ve had to just relax and enjoy one another’s company without worry of riding or making a rack point. We sat around a table and played games including Outburst, Scategories, and puzzles it was just a unique opportunity to bond that we haven’t had yet; all the while the thunderstorm worsened outside.

The guys just hanging out

At 11:00 our crew chief called the day and let us know that we would be racking the bikes and driving to Morehead for our 1:30 arrival. Disappointed everyone piled into the overly packed vans due to the 7 additional bodies that are usually not in them and reluctantly drove to Morehead. At some points throughout the drive standing water as high as 3 or 4 inches covered the road we we’re supposed to riding on reassuring that we had made the right decision in racking for the day.

Upon arriving at Morehead State University we were greeted by brothers of the chapter there and fed pizza that we felt we hadn’t earned without riding. We enjoyed the company of the brothers for the afternoon and then headed to an on campus dorm where we had beds, warm showers, and wi-fi; all luxuries on the Journey.

Before dinner a few of us walked around in the pouring rain and found a bookstore/ coffee shop that kept us occupied until our evening friendship visit. We visited Horizon Riders an assisted living community for people with disabilities and played games for the evening. I played monopoly with a few of the clients, a personal favorite. Dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings with the brothers of Morehead State was awesome and they provided us with tons of wings and fries to fuel us for tomorrows ride.

Today was a very special day on the Journey and even though we didn’t ride we had an incredible friendship visit with Horizon riders that made the day perfect.


Day Off-Lexington, KY

Monday, August 3, 2009

My team mates called me crazy when I woke up early this morning to go for a run and about 15 minutes into the run I was beginning to agree with them. After running the half-marathon this spring I felt as if my running had developed and I was in decent shape, this morning my legs felt as if I had 20 pound weights attached to my ankles and I struggled to move every footstep. The run wound up being twice as long as I expected because I kept finding dead ends and run train tracks where I couldn't cross.

After my run and a nice stretch I had a crew chief breakfast at lodging and then headed to one of the local coffee shops to update some past blogs. I headed back for our 10:30 roll out and the team headed off to downtown to visit an organization called Latitude.

They prepared lunch for us and showed us what they're organization does in downtown Lexington. Latitude is primarily an art studio for individual with disabilities and had some incredible pieces of work including blankets sewn from plastic bags by a man who's deaf and blind.


Munching down on lunch

The studio

The bike was for last years JOH arrival

Some artwork for today's rally

I had the rest of the afternoon to explore the city and I made a trip to Third Street Stuff coffee shop where some of the artwork from Latitude is on display for sale, it's incredible to say the least. I also stopped by the two local bike shops to see what they had to offer and talked to some guys about trainers.

Tomorrow we ride to Moreheade, KY which should be nice 70 mile ride! Just a few more days to Blacksburg!


Lexington, KY

Our stay in Ohio was brief as we crossed into Kentucky today headed for Lexington. Today was a gorgeous ride with large farms and big money horses at we entered derby country. The day began with a ride from the Cincinnati Recreation Commission to the heart of downtown where we crossed the Ohio River on a pedestrian/bike only bridge right by the Reds stadium.

View from the bridge

VT and another state line

The day moved quickly as our paceline stayed flat free and rode fast over the rolling hills of Kentucky. As we grew closer to Lexington we rode along gorgeous horse pastures and saw some barns that were twice the size of the mansions they were next to.

We arrived in downtown Lexington to lodging which was only a few blocks from University of Kentucky’s campus and the famous Rupp Area, home of the Wildcats. The location of lodging was one of the best we’ve had all trip with a Starbucks and local coffee shop only a few blocks away, as well as two bike shops within walking distance.

The team headed out for a friendship visit with CAKY (Community Alternatives of Kentucky) which was incredible. I unfortunately made the mistake of not bringing my camera to the event so I wasn’t able to snag any photos of the event. We enjoyed singing and dancing and they even had a cornhole set that we got to play. It was another awesome friendship visit that made all the miles feel like nothing.

The rest of the evening was spent watching the cycling classic American Flyer's with Kevin Chostner, another awesome 80’s cycling flick. 12 days left on the Journey of Hope!


Cincinatti, OH

The shortest ride of the summer does not necessarily mean the easiest ride of the summer, however today was an awesome day on the bike. Today was a day for record setting because not only was today the shortest mileage day on the bike but it was also the latest riding day wake up, 6:45 AM. After packing up our mattresses we loaded out gear into the vans and headed 1 mile down the road to the Eta Upsilon chapter house for another amazing meal. The guys were up early this morning preparing eggs, bacon, biscuits, and fried ocra for us; we devoured everything including an apparent record of 144 eggs. Our ride began with a scenic country road that had lots of rolling hills and twists that made the miles fly by in minutes. After stopping at the first crew stop for an early morning stretch the remaining 20 miles were finished before we knew it after skipping the two following crew stops. Our paceline was the first to arrive at the park for lunch which had one nasty hill between us and two 6-foot long subs. Matt and I climbed the hill to find the lunch spot and then decided to go back to the bottom to direct other pacelines as they arrived towards lunch since directions were clear. As the pacelines rolled in one after another Matt and I joined them to the top of the hill and then rolled back down to guide the remaining lines in, making the end of the day into somewhat of a hill workout.

Lunch was delicious and the team had no problem finishing the two huge subs and several huge pans of brownies and six-layer bars. We saddled and rode the 1.7 miles to lodging where members of the Cincinnati Recreation Commission were waiting with a sweet banner.

Today we the team had the unique opportunity to play wheel chair football with several incredible athletes with various physical disabilities. Catching the ball while running is difficult enough some times, mix into that rolling wheels and other chairs crashing into you and you have the making of a perfect afternoon. A delicious pizza dinner with salad and ice-cream was provided which was a great break from hamburgers and hot dogs, and will provide great energy for tomorrows ride into Kentucky. We all really enjoyed this event and it gave us a new outlook and appreciation for the incredible paralympic athletes we meet.

Just having fun!

Lined up for kickoff!

We had a real treat this evening with the opportunity to go see a Cincinnati Reds baseball game. This was really special because it’s the only MLB game I ever remember attending. The skies opened up a bit and taunted us with another Kansas City Royals incident, but fortunately held out enough for the game to be played. The Reds lost but it was a really fun way to cap off the evening, there’s nothing like a ball park dog and peanuts.


Oxford, Ohio

Today was smooth easy day on the bike which sometimes makes me wonder if we're really in for it the next few days on the bike because it went too smoothly.

I was in a fast paceline and we moved quick for most of the morning. By 11:00 we were about 10 miles ahead of the other pacelines and forced to wait for the others to catch up before we could go further ahead. Part of the reason for the large gap between pacelines was our good luck with flats for the day, and also the two ride alongs that joined us. One of the ride alongs was a crew member, JT who had never bike longer than 30 miles but was convinced that he could do a century and wanted to prove to everyone he could. All of us really doubted him because he is a fond user of tobacco products and we didn't think he was physically fit enough to to it. When he finished the ride today at 88 miles he said he was happy he completed the ride but wish it had been the full 100, his paceline stepped up and decided to make laps around campus and the stadium until he hit his 100 mark, what a trooper!

Our crew chief set up lunch for us and we all ate and took a nap waiting for the rest of the pace lines to get there. We all enjoyed the leftovers and desserts we've acquired throughout the trip and even took part in an AMP challenge which involved shotgunning an energy drink before riding the remaining 20 some miles.

AMP Challenge!!!

We arrived at Miami of Ohio university around 1:30 and showered up at the Pi Kapp house. Today I was a road marshall which meant I was responsible for scouting tomorrows route after our ride so we took a van and drove the first part of the ride to verify the direction and check road and shoulder conditions.

Eta Upsilon

The brothers of the Eta Upsilon chapter really went all out for us and prepared the feast of all feasts including possibly the largest steak I've ever eaten as well as potatoes, bread, and a bomb salad which we felt we earned after our 90 miles ride for the day.

We closed out the evening with a trip to the local theatre and saw the new release Funny People with Seth Rogen and some other famous actors. The movie truly lived up to its name and really was quite hilarious, a long walk back to lodging put us in around 12:30, just enough time to get our mandatory 6 hours of sleep before tomorrows cake 32 mile ride.


Day Off-Indianapolis

Today was one of our few remaining days off and an really awesome day because of a great friendship visit at Noble. I woke up early an headed down the street to the campus bookstore that’s associated with Barne’s and Noble and has a Starbucks in it to get my morning fix and attempt to post a few backed blogs. It took me nearly 24 hours to learn that IUPUI is not Purdue and is in fact a joint program between Purdue and IU.

At 10:30 we rolled out for a friendship visit at Noble. One thing that is really interested when heading into a friendship visit is that you have no idea what to expect sometimes, it could be one of your best friendship visits ever or you may not really connect with the clients; our visit at Noble was great because of how organized the event was. Noble is a resource center for people with disabilities and had our entire afternoon planned out. The visit began with a sponsored lunch and then a short presentation about what we would be doing for the next few hours. Noble has dedicated rooms for various activities including an awesome art studio, a music room, and a gym.

I was assigned to music room where everyone was excited to sing karaoke and dance; all of the client were really interactive and really impressive with the instruments. I had the opportunity after a little while to see some of the other rooms and activities including art Olympics in the studio. Art Olympics combines a rotational art project with bowling, football, and other coordination activities. At the first station every one received a blank piece of cardboard and had the chance to draw whatever they wanted, then you would have to throw three balls into three different baskets before advancing to the collage station. The last station was the coolest in my opinion because we took our artwork and put in a bucket with paint and marbles and shook the bucket around so the painted marbles rolled over the artwork; they all came out really neat!

Music room

The gym with Wii fit and some hoops!

Art Studio

Mike chatting it up!

Bingo and Bags room

After our awesome friendship visit we made a much needed trip to the bike shop where they warrantied my rear wheel failure and gave me a free $65 tire! I also bought a second tire so that I wont have to rack again if I ruin another one on the road.

We had a sponsored dinner at the Kelley household, David a Trans America Pi Alpha (someone who's ridden the trip before) kindly invited us into their home for a delicious tacos dinner. I ate entirely too much and gorged myself on dessert which was a warm brownie sundae.

Dean our cycling coach from Seattle lives in Indianapolis and coaches at a small private school Marion University. He invited us to meet him downtown and a bunch of us went out and told him all about our trip and our amazing (and not so amazing) rides and how great the trip had been so far.

Tomorrow we ride to Oxford, Ohio another state off the list and one closer to home which is bittersweet. We'll be joined by a three day Pi Alpha Tom Sawyer (yes that's really his name).

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