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.

Why?
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

Monday, September 14, 2009

The End.

So about 3 months and a week after its conception, I'd say the trip is now officially complete. Jean Noellsch was so kind to take this final jumping pose in front of my destination back home in Gibson City. Since I've been back, I think the city has really done well for itself and I've realized how it is thriving. This in itself gives me a great sense of pride as along my trip, I saw so many towns that were on their last legs.

So here it is.... the bike and the trailer in its entirety. 146 pounds and at the cost of a couple of tanks of gas.... these little guys are on their way back to Oakland, CA (hopefully in one piece)

Of course the primary purpose of the ride was to raise funds for the ABC and the FCYSC, but also, it was to be able to see one of my longtime friends Amy get married. They had a beautiful ceremony in the fields outside of Forrest, IL. Right afterwards, (literally 5 minutes, they walked over to the gun range to show their prowess at sharpshooting clay piegons.

Catherine flew in the night before to join me. Naturally, she was so supportive of me through this whole trip and I owe plenty to her for her patience and keeping me going through much of the trip! Here I am introducing her to corn.

Yesterday, I flew out of the fields of Illinois from Bloomington's airport around 10AM, went the absolute wrong direction for about 2 hours (to Atlanta), then caught my second flight westward towards San Francisco.

I've never really had many contemplative thoughts on an airplane before, but it is strange looking out the window for a total of 8 hours and think to myself... wow, I was down there someplace, experiencing all of the people, cultures, and landscapes of what there is... and most of the people around me may not even know its down there. When I first left Bloomington, I could see Funk's Grove and the roads that I took that led me eventually to Heyworth. It was pretty awesome to see it from the air, and again imagining myself down there at that intersection taking pictures with the signs before heading down an infinite country road eastward, which from the air looked like a simple stroll.

Much of the rest of the flight was uneventful. Unfortunately, there was cloudcover and rain for much of the flight. Which again, made me so very thankful that the weather I had was good and that I didn't get stuck under rainy conditions. I arrived back at SFO to be greeted by Michelle and Chris, two good friends from school that had been using my car while I was gone. Surprisingly, it was raining a bit in San Francisco and the East Bay.... which of course is unheard of for most of the year. But finally, I arrived back at the Convent (the name of my old place), and got settled in my room. This adventure is over, but as the song says "every new beginning is another beginning's end."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

On my way back to the bay area on a plane, bike is on the train. Done.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

All trip photos now online!


So by reading this blog, you have been given access to a limited number of photos that have been pre-screened by me for quality and for images that instill that the trip is wonderful, happy, and fun. However, there are plenty of other photos (and video) that truly reflect the ride in its entirety. Those are all now available online on my flickr page here.

I hope that you enjoy these and please share them responsibly! (meaning, please don't embarrass me too much). These of course include, the sequence of dud jump photos that led up to the jumping photos that I often posted.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fundraising Totals

Greetings from Gibson. Huge thank you to both Justin from Star Talent Events and Torri and Tommy from TNT Signs and Designs for their generous contribution to today's reception. I'm happy to say that this evening at Railside, we were able to raise an additional $1150 through donations and t-shirt sales! These funds will be going directly towards the FCYSC!

Also, a big thank you to everyone that was able to make it out today. This brings the grand fundraising total to approximately $5700. In other news, t-shirts will be ordered tonight and should be ready by Friday. Information about distribution will be available at that time.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Gibson City - A Welcome Sight - Day 42

Berkeley, CA - Gibson City, IL
Total Trip Mileage : 3,100 Miles
Total Elevation Climb : 96,000 feet
Total Days on Road : 42

Greetings from the Gibson City, IL, the place where I grew up and spent the better part of my life so far. I arrived this morning under great weather and clear skies with my good high school friend and soccer teammate Ben Kaeding who made the journey from Fisher to Sangamon Ave. But before getting into the celebratory and fluffy details of arrival, I will entertain you with tales of riding through East Central Illinois by bicycle, traveling at 15 miles per hour. Well, that statement is about as exciting as it sounds and there aren't that many stories.

However, the last two days have been exciting for me at least. Starting from my home in Berkeley, I had imagined in my mind at least once a day how great it would to be back in the
Midwest, riding on lonely country roads, surrounded by corn. Well, that dream has slowly become a realilty over the past few days. From Heyworth to Fisher via Route 136 was a whopping 33 miles. But since I couldn't take 136, that number gets rounded up to a nice even 44 miles, which I stetched out as long as I could. I got o
ut from Heyworth a bit late and had the timing just right so I could visit LeRoy for lunch. (you know it's a slow day if you're planning out your day around going to LeRoy for lunch). But I got there a
round 12:15 and hit up the McDonalds. I hadn't been to a McDonalds in at least a few years and I had been craving some chicken nuggets and fries ( a childhood favorite.... along with dairy queen of course). Did you know, that chicken nuggets now come with 10 nuggets and not 9 like they used to? This was the first shockwave that it is true, about portions becoming bigger at fast food outlets. I guess time has been passing me by a little too fast. Or maybe they had heard that this poor starving jobless kid on a bike was passing through town... I imagine the former is probably true.

Well after turning a few heads and downing my 9 nuggets and 1 extra in Leroy, it was off on another overland adventure to Fisher. I took mainly back roads which in my opinion have way more character and provide me a little sanity because of the few cars that go by.

I was pleasantly surprised by a red truck that drove passed me and gave me a friendly wave... a feat that in my book is already above and beyond that of any good cycling samaritan. But THEN, he came back (with his dog), with a cold gatorade and powerbars (first, i didn't know that farmers ate powerbars). How awesome was that? I was very appericiative and told the gentleman thank you. He told me he was also a cyclist and it looked like I was pretty thirsity.. (I know he was just being nice, but I did wonder if I looked THAT bad that someone needed to offer me some water, maybe it is time for this trip to be over)

After that run-in, I started seeing familar things, the windmills to the west of gibson, those enormous white tanks near Fisher, News-Gazette mailboxes, ahhh home. So eventually, I made it to Fisher and made camp there at the fairgrounds. I think of the many places that I camped, Fisher was actually the most hospitable. Maybe I gave the aire of being a local despite my skin-tight clothing. So after trying to fit in with the local middle schoolers on their bikes, I made the rounds in town, visiting all of the local attractions such as the water tower, the caseys, and the ingolds grocery store (twice). I would have visited the stop light, but such wonders of rural life are limited to big towns (like Gibson City).

It was a great evening though. I was about to scrub off in a typical city-park-under-the-faucet bath, but then the local youth soccer kids started a practice which kind of killed that plan. But it was around that time when Ben showed up to say hello, then my parents (after a 10 hour drive from Atlanta). So it was a great reunion right there in Fisher, IL, at the site where Ben and I and my parents were years ago playing soccer against the Fisher Bunnies. As an aside, the Bunnies seems like an unfortunate name for a team mascot. The only mascot in this area that may be less-ferocious than a bunny would be the Hoopston Cornjerkers . In a ring match between those two, I'm not even sure who would win. The bunny might start eating the cornjerker and then we'd be in real trouble. However, if you're ever in Fisher, go to the fairgrounds and you will see a depiction of the most aggressive looking bunny you'd ever seen on the bottom of their watertower.

Later in the evening, I was paid a visit by another good high school friend Justin Bond. By that time of the evening, it was probably well past the social prime of Fisher, so we decided our next best option, the Rantoul Wal-Mart (i am being sarcastic btw). After a nice pleasant trip to Wally's World, it was time to retire. I went back to my little estate on the Fisher Fairgrounds and called it a night.

So onto the grand finale of this whole story. I woke up this morning around 7am in Fisher, IL. A feat that I never thought I would do in my life (waking up in a tent in Fisher, not riding across the country)
videoI made my typical oatmeal and started packing my things. My dad actually came by a little bit later and helped me get my things going. As an added bonus, Ben Kaeding would be riding back to Gibson that morning with me. Ben rolled in around 8:30am and we got our day started that way. Ben was prepared for a big day, I offered him a pair of bike shorts to substitute for the pair that he had handcrafted himself (I won't go into details, but it was pretty hilarious). But we laughed at the fact that back in middle school, when traveling such a distance between Gibson and Sibley was a necessity, this would be no big thing. But we are a few years older these days...
The ride this morning was great and we probably couldn't have gotten any better weather. The ride was a short one and we cruised into Ford County after about 45 minutes and took a well deserved break. The big spectacle in the morning would be that a Police/Firetruck escort would be waiting for us outside of town. (wow. awesome.) So it was quite a bit more than I was expecting in terms of a welcome, but it was an awesome and pretty unforgettable.

While I was riding though, I was thinking to myself, those people driving on 47 are not going to be happy about this, but at the same time, it felt pretty good to be cruising down the middle of the highway without a worry to traffic.


video

Once arriving to town, things moved pretty quickly. I had the opportunity to say hello to a handful of people who had come out to greet us but it wasn't long before I was in the WGCY Studio having the opportunity to chat with Frank, Gary (who I had been talking with via cell phone for weeks) and my high school teacher Mr Tompkins. All in all, it was a pretty awesome day and alot of fun to see everyone again and have a chance to answer questions and chat about the ride. But again, as I've continued to say, I really am indebted to those who have been incredible supporters of the ride and the fundraising effort to make this all possible.



So where do things go from here? This definately won't be the last post because I am known for always forgetting to say things... so there will at least be one or two more. However, they future posts will likely be quite a bit more boring. Additionally, I would love to keep any readers updated on my adventures here in the near future, but for some reason I feel that "suparunsacommunitymeeting" or "supahelpscatherineplanwedding" won't really draw much of a following. Actually, now that I think about it. I do plan on making a quick post on cycling as well as what i'll be doing back in SF... but that may come in a few days

Also, the fundraising effort isn't quite over yet. We've raised nearly $5000 in total and we'll be having a reception on Monday at Railside Golf Club in Gibson City at 4:30pm in hopes of raising a few extra dollars (however, feel free to come by and say hello regardless!) - big thank you to Justin Bond for helping organize that. In addition! After speaking with Tommy of TNT Signs and Designs of Paxton, he said he would be donating all of the proceeds from t-shirt sales 100% to the fundraising effort! Thanks Torri and Tommy!

That's all for now. I'm a little sad that it's over, but also glad to be home. Thank you everyone for such a warm welcome. Have a great Labor Day weekend!


Friday, September 4, 2009

Camping in fisher, il, this is pretty fantastic

Fundraising Totals!

So FINALLY, paypal has gotten it's act together and I have some updates on fundraising totals (based on what has been submitted via the website)... and the leaderboard stands as follows:

Ford County Youth Soccer Club - $2764.00
Atlanta Bike Campaign - $1954.00

So.. The FCYSC has charged ahead in terms of funds raised. However, it's not over yet!

Arrival Details... to Gibson City

So after speaking with some people back in Gibson, it looks like I'll be arriving around 10AM and leaving Fisher sometime around 8:30am. I'm not exactly sure where I'll be staying, but if you would like to get in touch with me, feel free to contact me on my cell at 678-612-2327! I'll be rolling out of Heyworth around 11am this morning. Sorry for all of the scheduling changes!

Update: I'll be camping near the fairgrounds (orange round watertower)

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.
Change of plans: may arrive to gibson on saturday, stay tuned

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Havana, Cuba, and Little America & Tshirts




First! T-shirts will be made once I get back to Gibson, if you happen to be interested in them, please be sure to let us know! The design and link to the order form can be found on this previous blog post.

So today's ride was a bit shorter from Galesburg, IL to Havana, IL ~ 63 Miles. It was a nice ride via some country roads and some unpredicted gravel roads. A pretty quick day relatively speaking and I was in Havana around 3pm. The roads were pretty narrow, but there is nothing like the good fun in having a truck drive past you at 60mph and getting sucked into it's wake. (this isn't scary as it sounds, when it drives past you, it kinda gives you a good pull).



video


But the trip today was filled with plenty of small towns, some of which had fantastic names such as Little America (which in fact was very little), Cuba, IL (I waited out lunch so I could go visit Cuba in hopes that some enterpreneural spirit would be selling Cuban sandwiches there. Unfortuntaely, there were no Cuban sandwiches. But there was a BP selling my favorite... peanut butter crackers.

So eventually after Cuba, I eventually landed in Havana (I couldn't find Pyongyang, IL), I got in a bit early so I thought it would be nice to go around and explore this little town which is about the same size as Gibson City. Nice little town with a bustling downtown and a riverfront park.

So I've been needing a haircut for about the past 3 weeks (of this 5 week trip) and I found my opportunity today downtown when I saw the local barber pole. I walked in and explained my situation and told the guy what I usually got. I proceeded to let me know "Oh yeah, don't worry buddy, I know exactly what you mean" Hah, famous last words that my former hair heard.

At any rate, I think I could pass for a military cadet, but I guess it's easier to lose a few ounces of hair than it is to try to lose any weight off of my trailer/bike. You know it's bad when your hear someone say "don't worry, it will grow back fast".

So tomorrow will be a shorter day again from Havana to Heyworth. I'll probably avoid US 136 due to traffic and that the back roads are typically just more pleasant. I'll be staying with my old high school friends Matt and Shawna who just purchased their first house in Heyworth! Also, looking forward to seeing some old high school friends for dinner tonight.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

OQUAWKA! - first night in Illinois too

So I'm a little sleepy tonight, so I imagine this post won't be incredibly long. Which is fitting since my day wasn't too incredibly interesting. However, before going into any serious details about today's ride, here are just some asides and initial reflections on the trip. It's almost over. So sad.

I would say that my journey is pretty much broken up in my mind as the 1) California/Nevada - getting the body in shape, serious heat, and long stretches of nothing 2) Utah - physical pain, dry air, and beautiful canyon landscapes 3) Colorado - low oxygen levels, green hillsides and mountain peaks, nice roads and interesting meetings 4) Eastern CO, Kansas, Missouri - flat but scenic, life moves slower, people are generally nice or genuinely scared of people in spandex, small towns with lots of character, 5) Illinois - feels like home and recognizing familiar
landmarks.

So far, I've actually hit 8 states so far, lost 5 pounds, changed 5 tires, eaten at least 100 peanut butter crackers, burned one billion calories, ridden 2800 miles, and climbed about 90,000 feet of elevation. I should make that into some type of graphic.

So the last two days have been spectacular because Fern and Sam have been so nice to carry my trailer so I've been riding about 50 pounds lighter. So while I'm huffing through the bluffs of Western Illinois, my belongings have been getting a beautiful tour of Illinois, the Quad Cities, and other interesting things in the Mississippi River watershed.

Today as I said was fairly standard. I had a 98 mile ride today that started across the Mississippi River from Keokuk and crossed into Illinois. Some interesting highlights include seeing the origins of Illinois Route 9, which is the same road that I live on back in Gibson City (if you were to travel down that road for about 150 miles). I didn't exactly have many towns of any substantial size during the ride today, so my food choices were pretty limited. My meals between 8am and 5pm consisted of 2 packs of peanut M&Ms (2 for 1 deal at the gas station), a pack of crackers, some almonds, 2 bananas, 1 apple, leftover trail mix, red bull and water, oh yes and a nutrigrain bar. Not exactly the meal of champions, but it did hold me over until a wonderful dinner.

There were some very pretty sights along the way, including this covered bridge. (read the old school script over the entrance)

Here I am entering the town of Oquawka, which in my opinion has been the BEST town name by far on my whole trip. If the town was called Owauka, it would be kinda funny to me, but then they through in the Q to make it even that much more fun. Apologies if Oquawka means something very important and honorable, which I'm sure it does. But I still think it's a fun name to say for a town. I'm a bit envious. I wonder if the city council of Oquawka has to make formal statements on letterhead... I think it would be hard to take seriously.... " The people of Oquawka feel that..."

So this trip through Western Illinois has allowed me to explore plenty of small towns and places that I'd heard of but never had the opportuntiy to visit. For example, Monmouth College!
And I never would have gotten the chance to visit these small horses (insert proper name for these guys here) .
But the day ultimately ended in Galesburg. Nice little town which is host of the world largest rail yard (I haven't seen it yet... must not be THAT large). Tomorrow, I'll be headed south and east edging closer to Gibson. I'm hoping to make it to Havana (which can be found by going through Cuba, IL). The ride should take me about half the day as it's around 65 miles from here.

We're here at the Holiday Inn Express here in Galesburg, which might as well be a little slice of heaven. Hot tub and enormous continental breakfast. I should do dishes here just so I can stay a few more days.

Hope things are going well for you all and big thanks again to all of my friends and family for your help and support!

Paul