Day 22-Ride Across America for GTG, Springfield to Tuscola, IL.

Growing through Grief, The Park Nicollet Foundation program, is like a big hug that surrounds our students.   Through their weekly group sessions led by caring experts they are getting coping strategies and support.  Growing through grief creates a peer group that can truly relate to one another.

– School Student Services Coordinator

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“Jeff, thank you for your work to promote this program.  It makes such an impact on kids and families across the community.  Today, Growing Through Grief reaches over 500 children a week providing support and encouragement to help kids and families move forward with courage and hope. The need is great and this program makes a real difference.”                

-Andrea Walsh, President and CEO of HealthPartners. 

On paper, today’s ride from Springfield to Tuscola, a mere 77.9 miles, appeared easy and unremarkable. As always, the details were more interesting. Rain was forecast to start early Sunday morning and continue throughout the day with perhaps a window of time with less rain between 8 and 1 pm. Thus, our initial leave time was 8:30. At the last minute, based on a change in the weather forecast with clearing skies from 9 am – 12 pm, we started at 8 – and that created some chaos for all of us. The goal was clear – get to the hotel before 1 pm to avoid getting caught a thunderstorm. The roads were wet as we started out, but with the strong southwest wind, they quickly dried. Beautiful farms with dark, fertile ground and large tractors tilling the soil were seen on both sides of the road for nearly all of our ride. On several farms, we saw Mennonite families, everyone wearing proper clothing and their grounds and barns well kept.

The wind kept us honest as we biked- we tilted between 5 – 10 degrees toward the wind as it came across our bodies just behind the right shoulder. For those half mile to three quarter mile stretches as we followed the farmland roads and turned into the wind, we saw our mph drop by 70 %! Fortunately, as we biked with the wind slightly behind us, our speed remained around 21.5 – 22 mph. (The three fast riders were dong 24 mph) We pushed hard to reach these numbers, knowing that we must race against the pending storm clouds. We had one sag stop for lunch at 40.7 miles near Mt Zion. We inhaled small portions of food and quickly got back on the bikes so as not to lose much time.

We reached Tuscola by 12:40 and with the weather not yet threatening, we stopped for ice cream at a DQ. The storm did come at 1:20 with even stronger winds and a heavy downpour for 20 minutes. How thankful I was to be off the road! After a shower, I had time to talk with family and catch up on correspondence. During our 4:30 pm Rap, we reviewed our route for tomorrow – Tuscola to Lebanon, IN. We will enter a new state and another time zone. The temperature will be 50 degrees at the start and will only reach 55 in the afternoon – a cool day for a 120 mile ride. And, as we travel further east, the towns and their traffic lights will come more frequently – slowing our momentum and requiring even more vigilance for inattentive or rude drivers. As we walked to dinner at the only nearby restaurant, an inexpensive chain restaurant, we all complained of muscle discomfort – a consequence of pushing hard to beat the rain.

Please see video with pictures of: farm related buildings and scenes, US Post Office in Mt Zion, IL, a Mennonite church with the parking lot filled with large black painted SUVs and vans, the enormous Fuyao glass company, claimed to be the largest EOM glass making company for autos in the world and some interesting signs.

As always, I appreciate your readership, any feedback you wish to offer me and your generous donation to GTG.

Dear readers, you can get a full screen image of the video by clicking on the link, View on Relive in the box below.

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