Why am I doing this?

credits to Justin Bond of Star Talent Events for the audio.

Thanks for stopping in! This summer, I'll be biking 2500 miles from San Francisco to Gibson City, IL to raise $4000 for the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and the Ford County Youth Soccer Club. My route map.

There are so many reasons. As a youngster growing up in central Illinois, playing soccer, as rare as it was for the area, was an activity that really shaped me into the person I am today. Not only combining the importance of fitness and teamwork, but also leadership and discipline. I have always wanted to have the opportunity to give back to this organization (FCYSC), and I feel that this is my chance.

Living just outside of Gibson City causes every child to be an avid cyclist to survive that stretch of Route 9 to make it into town. As I've progressed into my current career as an urban planner, I realize how much of an impact cycling can make in certain parts of the United States, in reducing our dependence on vehicles, increasing our health, among other benefits. Atlanta is the place that re-energized my spirit for transportation planning and I hope to be able to return some gratitude to the ABC, a cause that I still feel has an uphill battle in that town.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at supawanich@gmail.com

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Almost Done... Day 40

ARRIVAL UPDATE: So there has been a slight turn of events. Based on some things that could be going on in Gibson on Saturday, I've changed plans to arrive on Saturday (time TBA). Sorry for the change!

After 40 days out on the road, I've finally made it to recognizable parts of Illinois. It was a pretty comfortable ride today around 75 miles from Havana to Heyworth. If you look at a map, you'll notice that US 136 runs directly between the two places (and I mean DIRECTLY), but unfortunately for me, busy roads with lots of trucks aren't a fun place to ride a bike with a big yellow bag behind it. So, it was mainly back country roads for me. For most of this trip, it's been funny because people will try to tell you the best way to go from point A to point B. Granted, their being nice and their intensions are good, but I don't know how many times people just tell me to jump on interstate whatever and head straight there. I think people forget that I'm on a bike and don't envision themselves on their huffy cruising down the highway.

But anyway, today was again, pretty uneventful. I saw some rather pretty country in and around Havana and I stopped for a quick lunch in Delevan, IL. After all that was said and done, I hopped on old Route 66 near McLean, IL to make the final run to my final stop in Heyworth. As a side note, I wanted to get your opinion on this. I was thinking it would be a sweet coffee table book to have ....drum roll... a photo book of post offices around the United States.... what do you think? Something about having a consistent theme of the post office with the different architecture styles of post offices around the country.... i think it would be a hit.. maybe. Once I get back to Berkeley, I'll be sure to post all of the pictures of post offices that I took on the trip (I think I took about 30-40 of yes, post offices)

Now that I've made it all the way here, it's really bizarre being back via my bike. I'm now running into towns that I haven't visited since high school, and even then it was by school bus or by car. Once I made it to Heyworth, I was reunited with my high school friend Matt and his fiance Shawna. They have an awesome new house here in town and I may be their first guest, quite an honor!

For dinner, we ventured up to Bloomington for a dinner with some old high school friends. It was great to catch up with them and see how they were doing (with their newly born children might I add!)

Tomorrow, I'll be riding my final day of any serious length... to Fisher, IL, where I played soccer as a younger guy in high school. I think it'll be around 50 miles or so, but it's a bit sad for the trip to be near its end. I think the strangest part will be riding into Gibson on Saturday (by the way, I'm arriving on Saturday now), and then trying to figure out what to do/where to go next. Most of this trip has been mentally fueled by this concept of getting there. There being Gibson City of course. But when I arrive, I imagine I'll feel at a bit of a loss with what to do with myself.

Once I get to town, I'll have about a week so I am thinking about taking advantage of the opportunity to do some biking around Ford County. As weird as that sounds, I think it'll be pretty nice to get some pictures and just revisit some places near where I grew up.

By the way, in case what you're wondering what I look like with way less hair than a few days ago, heres a photo with my sister and her husband Sam.... They headed back to West Layfayette this morning after a great trip through Western Illinois and Missouri! Thanks to them both and for their support (and awesome support shirts). I will say however, having a bit less hair has helped the ventilation in my helmet!

So as another aside, people often ask... what do you think about when you're riding? That's a good question. Some days, I really don't think about much... if you can imagine those animations of men's brains where it's literally a blank slate. Well there you have it. Yet, I think cycling is pretty mind-consuming. You have plenty to contend with, thinking about how fast you're going, keeping your balance, avoiding traffic, trying to look cool in spandex... that's alot to think about. There have been plenty of days when hours go by and miles melt away and I have nothing mentally to show for it. However, after being on the bike for so many days, I think I've gotten a bit better and multi-tasking. So I often have little mental debates (with myself of course) on a number of thought-provoking issues such as the health care debate, gay marriage, or what cows think about when I pass them and they stare at me. This is what keeps me occupied for most of the day. Actually, I thought it would be good for me to keep mental notes of some of this stuff, so I actually bought a little voice recorder when in Montrose, CO so I could keep notes (it's hard to write when you have two hands on the handlebars)... However, like many people, I cringe at the sound of my own voice.. so I've yet to listen to the notes, maybe I'll do that when I arrive to Gibson and don't have much else to do.

Ok, those are my random thoughts for the evening. Hope all is well and ride safely.

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