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

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)
I 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.

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)