(Sunday) September 8, 2002
It is totally impossible to believe that it is now one week into this grand adventure! In some ways it seems like we have been doing this for months, as we all get along like age old friends, but also in some ways it seems like just yesterday that I met everyone in Minneapolis for the very first time. On a sad note, today was our first riding day without Burnett "Killer Bee" Summers, our first Johnson & Johnson team rider. He has been replaced by Nick Yaremko, who will be riding with us until we get to Madison, WI. We all want to wish you the best Burnett, and truly hope you enjoyed the ride half as much as we enjoyed having you here with us. I hope the people you work with at J&J truly understand what a great guy you are!
Nick & Burnett
Tony & Mark
Our ride out of town led us along the Mighty Mississippi, past lots of beautiful scenery. On our way down through Fort Snelling State Park, a cyclist came along side of me and asked if we were a team or what we were doing out riding. I started to explain to him about the ride, and when I got to the part about organ donation, he said that in 1997 he had received a donated liver. It is totally amazing that a random person in the middle of a random remote trail on a random Sunday morning would be a perfect example of the what this ride is all about. I led Mark, our surprising guest rider up to ride with Tony Yeni, who is also a liver transplant recipient. What I find most amazing in looking at the two of them is that you would never guess about all of the hardship they had to endure to just be healthy and be able to do the things that most people wouldn't give a second thought about.
After putting in our daily regimen of miles, we were given a tour of the Mayo Medical Center in Rochester, MN. To say this place is huge is a serious understatement. In the lobby of one of the buildings we were in, you could park a half dozen tractor-trailer rigs in there and still have room left over. And that was only one of the dozen buildings that the Mayo occupies. I can see why they are considered one of the largest medical facilities in the entire U.S.!
(Monday) September 9, 2002
Officer Fred Fanning is alive today because of blood donors like you and I. Two years ago Fred was diagnosed with Leukemia, which is a cancer of the blood. Over the course of his treatment he had to be put into an induced coma, and over the course of 40 days, he received transfusions totalling 75 gallons of blood. Imagine 15 five gallon buckets sitting side by side, and that is the amount of blood products he required to save his life. Today Fred is alive and well, and he was our bicycle police escort for today's ride to Stewartville High School. He doesn't take what we do for granted, and is living proof that each and every one of us can make a difference.
Nick, Fred & Phyliss
The final destination for our day was the wonderfully picturesque city of LaCrosse, WI. It was a beautiful day for a ride, and some of the team members were commenting that it was quite hot. OK, so all of the team members complained about the heat, save for the South African riders and myself. I thought it was a beautiful sunny day, and since I barely broke a sweat on the hills, did not really figure it was hot. Pretty much all of my weekend training rides since about last May have been warmer than this, so I am very acclimated to the heat. As a result of my comment today about it not being hot, I don't believe I will be allowed to comment on the weather again. Oh well, maybe when it starts to actually get hot out they will forgive me? :-)
Mike in LaCrosse
When we finally rolled into LaCrosse, we were greeted by not only the Lions Club, but also by the Mayor of LaCrosse, who is a strong supporter of Organ Donation Awareness. One aspect of donation that many people are not aware of is the transplanting of corneas. The Lions Club is a key player in raising awareness for this aspect of tissue donation, and even has an Eye Bank set up to help facilitate eye related tissue donations. I am pretty sure that the value of a person's eyesight is the single most important thing in their life, even though they totally take it for granted until they start to lose it!
(Tuesday) September 10, 2002Another state, another rainy day? No, I don't like the sound of that one, since we have 9 states to ride through! Well, regardless of how the math works out, we all got wet today, and everyone took it pretty well. Then we stopped for lunch, and we all started to get really cold. (It wasn't bad as long as we were pedaling and staying warm, but stopping allowed us to all get chilled) We did finally make it to Richland Center, WI around 1:30 PM, and by that time it had finally stopped raining. But even with the weather, and even with the hills we had to ride today (Our first real hills of the ride), everyone was amazed at the scenery around us. One rider said he was "looking at postcards" all day, as the landscape was that spectacular. In one of the sections of the ride we rode by several Amish buggies, and even a traditional Amish farm.
I will however mention that at times today you dared not look around, as the riding took too much of your attention. There were about 8 hills that I came down at a speed of over 40 miles per hour, and probably a dozen more that I came down at a speed of over 30 miles per hour. In the rain, trying to use what little brakes I had to keep from flying too fast on wet curving roads. If it had been a dry day, there would have certainly been a few 45+ mph downhills, and at least one or two 50+ mph downhills. (Far more serious hills than you find in Florida!) And there is nothing like a mile and a half of climbing a hill at 7 mph to make you appreciate what regular old flat terrain is like!
Today we also had alumni riders with us (Riders from previous Five Points of Life rides), along with a local guest rider from the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin. The advantage of having a local rider was very evident in that riding with her in our group kept us from ever missing a single turn! Another advantage of having a local rider in the group is that when the mileage on the turn sheet did not match up with the actual mileage, she made good on her promise that if the mileage was wrong, she would buy Dairy Queen for those wanting to take her up on it. (We keep getting promises of Wisconson Cheese Curds, but we haven't seen them yet...)
Karen, Sharon & Barb
(Wednesday) September 11, 2002There are some days when this wonderful adventure gets to be a lot like work. There is laundry to be done, and a huge hotel with only one washing machine and dryer to use for all of the guests. There are stamps to buy from post offices that are always closed when we finally get to that part in our day when we have a moment to mail something. There are late night team meetings, there are routes to plan, start times to decide, and so many more details. It is a lot like running a business, however ours is a business that is always on the go, with a large entourage in tow. The support crew works even longer hours than all of the riders in that they are out doing tasks like finding a grocery store at 9:00 PM, and then they have to bring everything back, sort it out, pack it all up in ice for the early morning departure, and then have it out at a moments notice at every rest stop during the day. Talk about a thankless job. I do not envy them in the least.
Madison, WI Skyline
Once again today we were all impressed with the beauty to be found all around us. Today we landed in Madison, the state capitol of Wisconsin. My hotel room looks out at Capitol Square in the heart of downtown Madison, with one of the most stunning examples of incredibly good architecture (The Wisconsin State Capitol) shining brightly throughout the night. Tonight we had a sponsor dinner at a park on the south side of Lake Menona. The view of downtown from there rivals many of the views we have seen along the way (And unfortunately is impossible to capture in all of it's full glory with anything other than the human eye). The hardest part is actually taking the time to stop and look at what we see, versus just passing it by not really seeing it at all from the inside of the van with the rest of the team, or with the seemingly endless rolling of our wheels.
Speaking of the seemingly endless rolling of our wheels, as of tonight I have over 700 miles under my wheels. This is a serious amount of miles to have racked up in just 8 full days of riding. But not nearly as serious as the amount of mileage we will have accumulated after 8 more days, or the week following that, etc.
(Thursday) September 12, 2002
Richard & Tony
Today I started my day of riding by "sagging" (riding in a support van) for about 2 miles, to allow me to do an interview via cell phone with Rock 104, a radio station based out of Gainesville, FL. The interview went well, and set the mood for what was to be a very fun day. I ended up riding with Tony after my interview, and while riding along without paying too much attention to our exact location, we suddenly discovered we were in Waterloo, WI, in front of the Trek bicycle factory (4 time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong rides a Trek bicycle). While the team actually rides Cannondale bikes, it was still cool to stop for at least a photo in front of the Trek sign.
During the course of our day we do a lot of traveling through both remote and more populated areas. Today we had the pleasure of getting 2 police escorts through 4 cities. The first one in the morning took us through Watertown, WI, and went pretty straightforward. The afternoon escort was an incredible event, as it involved 3 different police departments from 3 different cities in the western suburbs of Milwaukee, WI. It was a full blown "blow through every intersection we came to" event, and it was unique to see the cooperation between the police departments in each city as they got to the edge of their city and handed us off to the next police department. The Five Points of Life Ride is a serious event we are all taking part in, but for the simple "fun" factor, this afternoon's police escort was VERY cool! :-)
Nancy & Friends
Richard & Guest Riders
One thing that is fun about being part of such a large entourage of people is that we seem to have a "wake" of activity in our travels. When we go to a restaurant, we end up having conversations with all of the tables around us. Heaven forbid a handful of us should go into a bicycle shop, as that will almost certainly turn into a huge spectacle. We can't really go much of anywhere it seems without causing people to notice us, as well as the fact that we are all a fairly happy and gregarious bunch to start with, let alone get us on a good day when we are being even a bit more silly. Waitresses want to hear the South African riders accents, Tony almost always seems to find another transplant recipient in the most uncommon of places, I am always taking pictures for posterity, and a good time is almost guaranteed to be had by all. Pretty much like a big, loud and happy family, except all dressed in coordinating apparel, making the impact even greater.
(Friday) September 13, 2002
On a pretty normal Friday the 13th, our day went very well. We left our hotel in the western suburbs of Milwaukee at 7:00 AM, and arrived in Elkhorn, Wisconsin just a slight bit early. As we were taking a short break about a mile from our destination (We were waiting for all of the support vans to catch up to the team) we found ourselves near a middle school. As luck would have it, during the 10 minutes time we spent at that location, the school had a fire drill. All of a sudden we found ourselves surrounded by masses of little people, all very curious about the group of riders all dressed in matching outfits, and especially curious about our very cool bikes.
Rodney & Middle School Students
FPoL Team in Wisconsin
Our scheduled event for the day was at a blood drive being held at a high school in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. I was impressed at the total number of students that donated, including quite a few first time donors. I talked with one faculty donor who had long ago lost track of his total number of donations, but knew it was at least in the 50-60 range. I then asked him a simple question... "Why do you donate?" And his answer was exactly what I expected. "Because it's something I just do." No specific reason other than just doing the right thing on a regular basis. The reason I knew what his answer would be is that it is the exact same answer that I have when asked why I donate. I just do.
Tomorrow we ride into Illinois, our third state along our journey. I have to say that I have been very impressed with both the beauty and variety of the parts of Wisconsin that we have ridden through, and am as equally impressed by the great people that we have met. And just as Minnesota has it's eccentric nature about certain things, Wisconsin has it's own unique quirkiness. We finally learned what a "custard" is, something we had seen a lot of signs advertising. (It is basically just very rich ice cream, similar to a product like Haagen Daas) Oh yeah, and we have seen a lot of signs for "brats". I had to explain to several riders that the word is short for bratwurst, and is not pronounced like you would describe ill behaved children. However the humour highlight of the day was when we found that the local McDonald's offers a bratwurst value meal!
McDonald's Menu Sign
A few people have commented on why there are not more photos of me on this web site. The problem is one that almost every photographer knows all too well. I am always the one taking the photos, and not the subject of many of those photos. I will strive to get more photos of myself to put in the log over the next few weeks. Also, if you like what you see here, please send me an email so that I have some feedback on what you like about the web page. I still have five more weeks worth of logs to create, so I still have room for suggestions!
(Saturday) September 14, 2002
Wisconsin / Illinois Line
Today's goal was to make it into Illinois, and attend a "Health Fair" being held in Rockford. We made it there in fine style, over beautiful rural roads and very light overcast with no wind. In other words, if you ever had to pick a day for riding, today was the day. And we are getting spoiled by the grand entrance we get to make lately. I understand that everything we are going to do in Illinois will have a police escort. They did it in style today, as they gave us a police escort, and even did Wisconsin one better by running their sirens as well as their lights. OK, so it may be the kid in all of us, but I know every rider again thought it was a seriously fun way to arrive at an event! :-) As for the event that was held in Rockford, we once more had lumps in our throats as we listened to some incredibly touching stories of people who have given so much in their time of sorrow. If anyone has any question about whether or not anything good goes on in this sometimes crazy world, believe me when I tell you that I have met some very wonderful people that would restore your faith in humanity in very short order.
Tomorrow is our last day for yet another tag team rider from Johnson & Johnson's Ortho Clinical Diagnostic division. The rider with us at present is Rob Skawinski, who is a talented rider and a very nice guy. We do like to tease him as being our "spokes" person, as he managed to break 2 spokes on one wheel in the course of 2 days. Nothing like the bunch of us to take no mercy on the new guy! Of course we also have a couple of wonderful South African riders with us at present, at least until St Louis when they go home and 2 other South African riders join us for the last half of the ride. Dennis & Phillip are highly talented riders, very dedicated Five Points advocates, and just generally a pretty silly pair of guys that nicely round out our big albeit goofy family of riders.
Dennis, Rob & Phillip
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