(Sunday) September 15, 2002Today was yet another wonderful day of riding. The weather could have been better, as it started out at 55° under overcast skies with a bit of a wind. But as I have said many times before, it could have been worse, it could have been raining. Upon arriving at our first destination for the day, we were greeted by the Johnson & Johnson video crew, with us for the day to capture some more footage of the ride in progress. A short time later we were riding along with our Illinois Secretary of State Police escort, we also had a van driving alongside of us with a camera stuck out the side or the back. It's a good thing it was Sunday, as the traffic was very light when we clogged up all of the driving lanes.
Our ending destination for the day was a hotel in the very heart of downtown Chicago. Again we were glad to have only what little Sunday traffic we did, as our ride brought us right into downtown, traversing a number of streets and bridges in the beautiful windy city. Our hotel is dramatically different from the motel of a few nights back in the more rural areas of Wisconsin. The view of downtown Chicago from the 20th floor is one not to be missed.
Chicago Skyline at Night
If anyone would like to have a 2002 Five Points of Life Ride bumper/window sticker, just send me an email with your mailing address, and I will put one in the mail to you directly! (Limit one per household, not valid where prohibited by law, allow 4-6 weeks for delivery, contents is packed by weight and not volume so some settling may occur, price does not include airport tax, please keep out of the reach of children, please unplug before using, not meant to be used as a flotation device, do not use while operating heavy machinery, best if used by freshness date) :-)
(Monday) September 16, 2002Our day started with a press conference in the very heart of downtown Chicago. The press conference was sponsored by the "Gift of Hope" foundation of Illinois. We all looked good up on stage with all of the major TV networks aiming their cameras at us. The Illinois Secretary of State gave a great speech about how he had once turned down the offer to make an organ donation when a member of his family died, but how a few years later when another family member needed a transplant, he quickly realized the error of his ways. He is now an outspoken advocate of organ donation at every chance. It's very hard to follow such a strong presentation.
Richard & Perry at Baxter Healthcare
After the press conference, it was time to get on our bikes. In a beautiful plan of mapping out the day's riding course, the team got to ride through downtown Chicago to Navy Pier, and then north along the bike path that is immediately adjacent to Lake Michigan. Under pleasantly sunny skies we wound our way northward past Lincoln Park Zoo and so many other wonderful sights. This had to be one of the most scenic routes we have ridden in the entire ride to date, as it was just that wonderful. Our destination was Baxter Healthcare in Deerfield, IL, a northwestern suburb of Chicago. When we arrived at Baxter, we were greeted very warmly by a group of Baxter staff members. All of us could not help but notice how much these people really do care about what it is that they are doing. Some very wonderful people indeed. After a wonderful presentation, today was my day to stand up and give my personal story about my connection to the Five Points of Life. You would think it would be a stressful moment, but I guess I must either be too naive about public speaking, or else I really did speak from the heart, as it went really easy and the feedback I got afterwards was very supportive. Top that off with a killer lunch with Baxter staff members and the day was going almost as perfect as it possibly could.
Stop number 3 for the day was at Loyola University. Loyola has one of the best medical centers in the nation, and after getting a tour of the cardiac transplant unit and the Ronald McDonald Childrens Hospital, I can certainly see why they get that rating. We met with several cardiac transplant surgeons during the course of our tour, and they seemed almost as impressed with what we are doing on this ride, as we were at their wonderful work in some of the people we met that are alive today because of their efforts. Shortly after that we got a tour of one of the most progressive childrens hospitals in the nation. It was at times incredibly tough to see some of the children in the pediatric unit, wearing their masks and not being able to be normal children. I have to give huge credit to the staff that works there, as it has to take a very special type of person to be able to work with such innocent children that truly have no sense of why they are there, and why they are singled out to deal with such difficulties. Once again it pretty much puts a lot of the little stuff clearly in perspective...
Loyola Medical Center Artwork
(Tuesday) September 17, 2002Nequa High School in Naperville, IL is one incredible facility. It is a huge school that looks almost brand new, and riding into their auditorium (Yes, we actually rode up to the school and directly through the door and down the aisle right down to the front of the auditorium!) packed full of students was a great way to make a first impression. After the presentation itself, we had a small amount of time to talk with donors at a blood drive being held on campus, and then it was on the bikes again to make our way to stop number two...
Naperville, IL Event
Our second event for the day was a press conference held at Naperville City Hall. A full marching band lined up on the steps in front of city hall, complete with flag drill team, all made for a pretty site for all of the riders as they did a few loops of the circle drive around the fountain. A (cherry) tree was dedicated to the Five Points of Life Ride Team, to be planted at a high school near by. Once inside we had a large scale press conference, and listened to some people that had a powerful way of reminding us of just how lucky we are to be as healthy as we are. Not that we really needed a reminder, but life's lesson's are not always lessons we ask for it seems.
Our final event for the day was a stop at Lombard, IL City Hall. This event was somewhat of a repeat of the event at Naperville City Hall, but this time the team walked out of the event with several "goody" bags of various shirts and other wonderful items. We do get some very nice stuff along the course of our days, but we never take any of it for granted, and the sponsors and events that we attend do take good care of us.
Our overnight stay is in the very small town of Dwight, IL. It has the convenience of being only 75 miles away from tomorrow's destination of Bloomington, IL. Here again we have a stark contrast to just two nights ago in our high rise hotel the heart of the Windy City. I guess we will have to wait another day for that Chinese food several of us have been yearning for over the past week!
(Wednesday) September 18, 2002When we started riding this morning, the scenery around us was only limited by our imagination. In reality the fog was so thick that we could really only imagine that there was scenery around us! We rode the first 25 miles in some pretty thick soup, with the temperature a bit on the cool side. That was the good part about the day's weather. The more difficult part was the unrelenting head wind that we had to ride into for the entire 77 miles to our event stop for the day. Not anything huge, and not even gusting at all, but just always there in our faces, making the distance add up just that much more slowly. But it could have always been worse, it could have been raining...
Our event for the day was at the State Farm Illinois Regional Headquarters. State Farm has been a sponsor of the Five Points of Life Ride since it's inception, and the people at today's event reflected that committment. The Illinois Secretary of State was there to speak, along with the founder of the Five Points of Life Ride, Perry McGriff. Perry also just happens to be a State Farm agent himself, so he definately had a home field advantage when he was addressing the crowd. Throw in a very nice lunch on a patio just outside of the State Farm lunch room, and it was nice to have the day's work behind us. Time to go clean up, create a big hoopla at the local bike shop (You would be amazed at how many supplies like tubes and tires alone that we use to keep this show rolling!), and then time for a quick nap (One of the most valuable of commodities in our very busy schedule) before finally getting some Chinese food for supper.
Richard at State Farm HQ
What day of the week is it? If you had a rapid answer to that question, then you have one up on me. In our day after day world of this traveling road show, the days all blend into today, tomorrow and yesterday. The day of the week, or even the date is only a detail of the day, and not one that really impacts upon the day itself. That is unless we are wondering why there is no traffic when riding into downtown Chicago (It was a Sunday when we did that, hence the lack of traffic), or why there were so many people out and about at 9:00 PM at night in Minneapolis (It was a Saturday night in that case). This adventure is very Zen like in that the day after tomorrow does not matter to us until tomorrow is done. At this point, I don't even worry about tomorrow, but will address what tomorrow has in store when I wake up tomorrow and it becomes today. It is nice to be able to live each day for itself, and when that is said and done, live the next today in the very same manner. I only wish that each of you could experience the freedom that this type of life can give, as it takes away so much of the daily drudgery that we often find ourselves trapped in during the course of our normal daily existence. I am truly appreciative of just how lucky I am at this moment in my life...
For those of you curious about how the riding mileage in our days is playing out in reality, I am updating my ride calendar with the exact mileages as we go through each day. At the end of each week I will also be updating the totals and averages for the week as well. After the first two weeks, the total is pretty much right on track with the estimates. This week may be a bit lower due to all of the events in Chicago that required us riding in a van through much of the greater Chicagoland area instead of riding, but I am sure that will get made up in other ways on other days.
(Thursday)September 19, 2002
Franklin Street Bridge in Peoria
Today was an easy day for riding. The weather looked promising at sunrise, however that was to be our sunshine for the day. And while the skies threatened to rain on us a few times with a handful of drops checking out our determination, we did manage to ride the distance today in the dry. This brought us to the very quaint city of Peoria, IL, on the Illinois River. Our event was a Press Conference and Health Fair at the Riverplex Fitness Center, which is a very nice facility, in a very nicely developed river front area. There is just something about a slowly wandering river that draws my attention, and this one had barges floating on it, and several bridges to capture my architectural interest.
The events for the day were done by 2:30 PM, with us settled in our hotel in what was the equivalent of getting off work early. Some went off to discover what Peoria had to offer, one rider went to a small town nearby where he grew up, and me, I went for a short 4 mile run on the path along the river front. Nothing like a few miles to clear out the cobwebs and work the kinks out of the body. After that it was a quick shower and then the usual long late night dinner with the rest of the entourage at the hotel restaurant. The rains that teased us all day decided to visit us finally, but here's hoping that they find some place else to play tomorrow...
(Friday) September 20, 2002Today started with rain, which is never a good way to kick things off for us. However we play the cards we are dealt and go on with things. When we finally did get to riding, it was no longer raining, but it was still overcast and the day was looking ominous. It was somewhere along this point in the day's ride that I consciously thought to look to find the very good parts of the day. And in that amazing way that life works, it didn't take long to find it.
We took a rest stop in Greenview, IL. This is not a very large town, and the main street that we looked at had only one car parked on it's several block length. It had the appearance of a town that was deserted. But when we rolled up and parked our bikes, two very wonderful ladies from the local community center came out to talk to us about what we were in town for, and offer us refreshments and restrooms. They were so warmly hospitable to us that it was hard not to be charmed by their offer. We had some snacks, talked a while, got our picture taken for the local newspaper, passed out a few tee shirts, and generally caused a (small) ruckus in this small town. And just before we left, two of us (I have been sworn to secrecy to not tell anyone it was Gary and myself) got to sample some fresh from the oven strawberry cake. (It was so good that I can still close my eyes and taste it!) So the next time you drive along the road less traveled in life, don't be afraid to venture into Greenview, IL. You just might be surprised at how wonderful of an adventure you might have there...
Greenview, IL Community Center
Our official event for the day was a visit to the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, IL. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White was there to give us a full tour of the building, as well as be a gracious host to us in his office. (He is the one that has provided us with a full police escort throughout the entire state of Illinois) This capitol is also a very regal building in it's architecture (Are you starting to notice I have an interest in architectural details?), and we had fun looking in the house and senate chambers as well. End the day with a short bike ride to the hotel, and it's another day done. Time for some to find a good book, some to toss a football around in the parking lot, some to find the hottub, and some to just chill. I decided to go for a "retail" walk, although I really didn't buy anything. All in all a day unlike any other, but still a wonderful day all of itself!
(Saturday) September 21, 2002
Covered Bridge in Illinois
Today was all about the riding. No press conferences, no events, no blood drives or sponsor dinners. Just 80+ miles of cycling at our own pace on our own time schedule on one of the most beautiful weather days we have had on the entire ride so far. Along the course of our day we did manage to see a few sights that I would not have expected to see. The first one that we came upon was only 10 miles out of Springfield, IL, and was a covered bridge that is no longer in service. We spent about 15 minutes looking at it and taking photos, but I have to be honest here. I could have easily have spent several hours there and gone through a few rolls of film capturing this wonderful structure. I had never seen a covered bridge in person before (Yes, I know that I must lead a sheltered life it seems, I should try to get out more!), so this was a very nice treat. And to top it off, at the time that we were there, the light was just changing to be almost perfect. (It's a photography thing)
One other bit of nostalgia that we traversed along and across during the course of our day was the historic Route 66. This famous roadway has a history going back farther than any of the Five Points of Life riders are old. It is a winding roadway through the heart of America, and much like our lives, it is not always the most direct path to where we want to be, but rather taking us along a pathway that shows us what else is out there to see and discover and explore. It is such an unbelievable adventure to be able to see all of what we see. Yes, we do complain a bit about seeing a lot of corn fields, but then we miss them when we get into the more urban areas of our ride. After a while the scenery itself becomes as much a part of the adventure (and therefore a part of us) as does the variety of foods we eat, the people we meet, the places we visit, and all of the other aspects of being "Lost in America" for 48 days straight.
Sign for Route 66
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