days 34, 35, & 36: REST DAYS

days 34, 35, & 36: REST DAYS

So remember when I said 2 rest days… well the boys talked us into 3. No complaints on this end, however, because that meant more time in beautiful Chicagooooo! Below, I gave the highlights from each of our days.

DAY 34: Our first night with the Petersen family

  • woke up at the hotel & blogged at breakfast
  • left the hotel around noon & ran a few errands (and got coffee, DUH)at the Hampton.JPG
  • got the most delicious breakfast burrito at Bryn Mawr in Chicago on our way to Lake Michigan
  • arrived at the boat harbor where Erika Petersen & her Dad (who we were staying with tonight) were waiting for us
  • we sailed the day away on Lake Michigan, and even hopped in the water! The weather was PERFECT!
  • we came back to shore and took a little trip to a Baha’i House of Worship (the only one in North America)Baha'i house of worship.JPG
  • we toured the House of Worship and learned about a religion that none of us had heard of before
  • went passed the Home Alone house!
  • arrived at Erika’s house where her Dad was already barbecuing dinner
  • we had a huge steak, corn, potato salad, etc… all under the stars around the fire in her backyard
  • our first day in Chicago was AMAZING! Thanks Petersen family!

DAY 35: Second night with the Petersen family

  • woke up and were out of the house relatively early to go explore the city
  • we toured Navy Pier, rode the BRAND NEW ferris wheel, and took in all of the scenery
  • we met Sophie’s mom, who was in town visiting, for brunch at Yolk (Thanks for the amazing meal, Mrs. Buie!!)
  • sat at a coffee shop for a bit, made some phone calls, etc.
  • headed to the Bean (Cloud Gate) where we would be reunited with the boys
  • REUNITED WITH THE MEN’S TEAM!
  • walked about 1.5 miles to our “surprise” dinner that only our drivers had known about for weeks
  • arrived at Hugo’s Frog Bar and Chop House for dinner, courtesy of Jim Summers (THANK YOU MR. SUMMERS, YOU SPOILED US!)
  • ate a delicious meal, had delicious drinks, and shared some crazy stories between the two teams
  • at this point, the men’s team convinced us to take an additional rest day since they were taking one tomorrow so we could cross the Ohio state line together… we agreed
  • we headed to a street known to have good bars, and ended in a little basement bar with good music and games (somehow we got in with three of us having invalid or missing ID’s. LOL)
  • ubered back to our van that we had to park 2 miles away & drove back to the Petersen home where we quickly fell asleep

DAY 36: A night with the Gallaghers

  • slept in a bit to celebrate our additional rest day, and eventually packed our stuff to head out (THANKS PETERSEN FAMILY!)
  • went to a little bike shop to get a tune up… my disc brake has been making a lot of weird noises
  • went to Coffee Bene for a while to drink boba, drink coffee, and handle some business/blogging (today was supposed to be more restful than the last few “rest” days)
  • met with the Gallaghers (Mr & Mrs. and their son, Will) for dinner at a pizza restaurant… they had just hosted the men’s team the night before, and were so graciously willing to host us tonight!dinner with the Gallaghers.JPG
  • headed back to the Gallagher’s where they made us feel right at home
  • cuddled with their adorable dogs, Sky & Jake!sky and jake!
  • fell asleep quickly, realizing we have a long week ahead of us!

And just like that, our three rest days were over! If we didn’t have a date set to be in New York, I’m pretty sure we would’ve stayed a lot longer (or just moved in completely). We all fell in love with the city and all of its adventures, but it was time to move on to the next big adventures on the East Coast.

Thank you once again to the hospitality of the Petersen & Gallagher families! You made our stay more amazing than we could’ve ever have hoped for!

So for now… see you later Chicago & see you soon, New York City!

Also, update on some facts!

  • total miles so far: 2218.82 miles
  • total elevation so far: 61,836 feet
  • total money raised: $43, 246

day 33: Earlville to Joliet

day 33: Earlville to Joliet

Alarms went off around 6:30 am, but we weren’t too excited to get up. Yesterday mixed with a late night made it a little harder to get up than we were used to.

We gathered ourselves and loaded in the van by 7 am because we had breakfast plans with the Henert & Jahn families about an hour away. We arrived and saw a big group of people… the Henert’s, Jahn’s, and their kids. They had Taylor (10), Mallory (10), & Calvin (15). The girls were best friends, just like their parents, and it was actually the cutest thing ever.

Also joining us for breakfast were the bar owners. This breakfast date happened between the two families every Friday morning. They were so excited for us to join, and we were so honored to have been asked to join them!

Lots of laughs and a yummy meal later, we had to say goodbye…. but the day was nearly over. They ended up inviting us to a local park with a fresh spring!

We hiked back into this wilderness area where people often camp & fish, and they showed us where the fresh spring comes out from under the rocks. We were able to fill up our water bottles and drink it straight from the source. It’s amazing how often we are reminded of how fortunate we are to have clean water during this trip. God’s constantly reminding us why we are riding our bikes across this beautiful country.

After our little hike, we officially had to say goodbye. Once again, it’s beyond weird saying goodbye to a family that were strangers 24 hours prior but also feeling like you’ve known them forever. We loved every second with those two families, and meeting their kids was such a treat. You could tell that they genuinely enjoyed their time with us, and we DEFINITELY enjoyed the past 24 hours with them. They also said that they will be sending us a care package to Cleveland in about a week! Who would’ve thought these amazing memories would come out of randomly walking into a little bar?

After our eventful morning, we were all exhausted. We still needed to put in some miles today, but we decided a nap was more of a priority. We found a little park in Earlville, laid our some blankets, and crashed. My ability to fall asleep anywhere has really improved throughout this trip.

nap at park

An hour or two (or three) later, we all woke up. We snacked, got Subway, and slowly made our way back on our bikes. Starting the ride after the last 24 hours wasn’t the easiest thing, but we just keep pedaling.

About 20 miles in, we hit a gravel road… what’s new? Thanks, Google Maps.

We ended up riding it for just a bit, and thankfully it ended within a mile. We kept going, with an occasional bathroom break at a restaurant’s porta potty, and eventually ended up entering into the town of Joliet.

It was such an interesting transition as we entered Joliet. Most of our day was in corn fields and soybean fields, but then all of the sudden, there was a line of houses that started civilization once again. At this point, a bike path started, and we were able to parallel the main road while not being in the middle of the traffic. There were the cutest little bridges, too! Joliet is a suburb of Chicago & has a population of around 150,000 (a little bigger than the corn field towns).

pretty bridge in Joliet.JPG

The last few miles before we got to our (FREE) hotel at the Hampton were a bit stressful since we weren’t used to riding in this kind of traffic, but we made it! We walked into the hotel to find a welcome “charity:water supporters” sign with goodie bags! HOW SWEET. The lady at the front desk was so eager to welcome us. This was definitely the most appreciated and welcomed we’ve felt at a hotel! Thanks, Hampton!

We walked up to our rooms, set down our stuff, and headed back out (with a quick spray of perfume to make ourselves smell less yucky). Our dinner plans for the night were with Ashlee’s extended family! She hadn’t seen them in years, so it was like a mini reunion plus a few extra Ride for Water girls.

Since we were officially in the Chicago area, we HAD to get some deep dish pizza. Ashlee’s family members (Jason, Cindy, and Nicole) met us at Giordano’s Pizza. We sat around the dinner table for almost 3 hours, shared stories, and ate the yummiest pizza. THANK YOU to Jason, Cindy, and Nicole for making our first night in the Windy City one to remember.

after dinner with ash's family.JPG

With our tummies full & the realization that we had not just one, but TWO, rest days coming up, we fell asleep. The next few days are going to be eventful, and we can’t wait to reunite with the men’s team!

day 33: 48 miles, 866 feet of elevation gain

day 32: Rapid City to Earlville

day 32: Rapid City to Earlville

Somehow the best adventures seem to come after the roughest of days, and I think you’ll understand why after I explain the activities of day 32. Seriously. You aren’t going to believe how today went down…

The day started out normal with a breakfast in the hotel lobby. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t in the best of moods with the realization of not having my wallet anymore setting in. I had talked to my Dad the previous night, and he suggested I go straight into a Chase bank the next morning to try and get a new debit card at least.

We ate breakfast at 6 am and left the hotel by 6:30. We loaded up the car, made some construction workers’ days by giving them some of our leftover drinks that were taking up too much room in the car, and headed off.

We stopped first at the Illinois state sign that we had missed yesterday, so we took our picture and continued back to our starting spot (we had slept in Iowa but finished yesterday in Illinois). The sign was in the middle of the highway, so we had to cross a few road and hike through some weeds, but we made it!

After the pictures, we were sunscreen and set to ride by 7:30 am. RECORD TIMING. We are getting good at the early morning thing.

That whole “go to Chase and handle my debit card thing” was a lot better in theory… I realized that it meant missing miles and potential adventures and I decided against it. I also didn’t want to wait for the bank to open, knowing that I could be riding with my team. A debit card could wait another day or two.

So last minute, I got changed and joined the team. Around 20 miles in, we stopped for some water because it was ANOTHER hot day (surprise?). We’ve also gotten really good at entertaining ourselves in these corn fields. The amount of corn puns and corn jokes that were said were ridiculous.

“Aw SHUCKS”, “aMAZing”, “I’m CORNfused”, etc. It was never ending. We even thought we were funny and took some pictures in the cornfield while eating popcorn. Honestly, I think these farmlands are making us crazy.

A few more miles later, we realized we were MILES from another restroom. 7 girls means more than ideal amounts of bathroom breaks. We got desperate and stopped at a random hangar on a farm. There, we met Brock & Andrew who were two cousins who farmed out in the rural Illinois farms. They were so sweet, and let us use their bathrooms (I think they realized we were desperate).

As we were about to leave the hangar, we saw another cyclist. Immediately we waved him down. The man, named Scott, was in his 50’s & was on a 4 day self-supported cycling trip from Wisconsin down to his home in Illinois. He gave us advice and was so excited for our journey. He’s actually done the cross-country trip twice (all self-supported!), so it was cool to hear his experiences and crazy stories. We LOVE meeting other cyclists on the road.

Our lunch break for the day was at mile 60 where we laid out a blanket on the side of a cornfield and made a little picnic. After this, we finished our day at 81.89 miles.

At this point, we were all incredibly hungry. We ended it Earlville, but that was over an hour drive away from our hotel room. We needed food, so we started looking on Yelp.

We found a Thai food restaurant in a town called Dixon (20 minutes from our hotel). We pulled into town, and it was adorable! There were people running through downtown, the town was lively, and we felt confident in our choice to visit for dinner.

The Thai food was delicious, and we were able to eat it outside while watching the sunset. Jac saw a little bar and said, “Come get a beer with me.” My response was, “Ehhh, I kind of want ice cream.” Somehow, the girls convinced me that there was a restaurant/bar around the corner called Tipsy’s that served alcohol AND ice cream, so I said OK.

Am I gullible or what?

We walked in, and it was the typical bar scene: bar, bartender, tables, shuffleboard, darts, the “locals”, $1 beer Thursday’s, etc. I was upset about the ice cream (LOL), but once I saw they had ciders, I was fine. We all grabbed a beer and played some games.

Jac & I thought it was funny and snuck away from the girls back to the barstools. There, we jokingly ordered a shot of their cheapest tequila. Two men sitting next to us overheard our order and said “Ugh, why the CHEAPEST tequila? That’s awful”. We responded with the explanation that we are riding our bikes across country and not looking to spend a whole lot of money.

They asked some more questions, and within minutes, they were some of our biggest fans. They opened up a tab for us for the night & said every drink was on them for our entire team!!

We later found out that their names were Tim Henert & Chris Jahn, and they had already called their wives to come join & called back the bar owners.

The night flew by (with a few drinks in each of us, oops) and the stories are endless. We met person after person who donated, and Chris even stood on a table and announced who we were while sending a tip jar around. It was beyond comical.

Over $120 later, we realized that we had been doing this whole campaign wrong… why don’t we go to bars every night? I’m kidding… but really, we did a lot of campaigning in the little town of Dixon, all thanks to meeting our new friends Chris and Tim.

Once their wives arrived, they ordered us food and even invited us to breakfast with their kids! They said that they want their daughters (Taylor and Mallory), who are in middle school, to be like us when they grow up. We were 100% in for breakfast, and we couldn’t believe that we somehow ran into two of the sweetest couples!

In terms of how our night ended, we eventually had to call it. Seven girls, after 80 miles of riding & multiple drinks, are quite the group. We said goodbye to our new friends, and told the Jahn’s and Henert’s that we would see them at 8 am sharp. We climbed into the van, and Rach (our DD) drove us home. We found our way into our hotel rooms and crashed faster than ever before.

The memories from our night in Dixon will forever be some of my favorites.

day 32: 81.89 miles, 1952 feet of elevation gain

 

day 31: Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Iowa to Rapid City, Illinois

day 31: Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Iowa to Rapid City, Illinois

Today was quite the day. Every trip has one of those days that make you emotionally exhausted (for dayssss), and today was that day for me. Here’s how it went down…

Wake up call was relatively early, so we made a quick bowl of cereal & ate a banana as we headed out of Tom and Sue’s home. We had ended our previous day in Cedar Rapids, which was about 30 miles north of Iowa City. If we started from Iowa City, we would be doing the same amount of miles (and eventually adding some as we headed back up north), so we decided to start from the house to save time in the morning.

We took a picture with Tom & Sue, and they helped pack up our van and get our bikes ready. Tom kept repeating over and over how lucky we are to be experiencing this adventure, and it put things into perspective for me. He was so excited and eager to understand our journey thus far, and I could tell that in his eyes he was ready to hop on his bike and join us. People like Tom make me step back for a second and realize the true value of doing this trip at such a young age.

SIDENOTE: We finally got a copy of the newspaper from Marshalltown from the other day! FRONT PAGE BABY!!!

Times Republican

Anyways, we said goodbye to Tom & Sue and started going. The first 40 miles were just like any other day (with the occasional bridge and such), until we saw a little ball of fur in the middle of highway. The amount of roadkill we see everyday, as I have previously stated, is unbelievable. For some reason, this little ball of fur caught our eyes and we realized it was a newborn baby kitten AND it was still alive.

We immediately pulled over and it curled up right under Katie. It was SO trusting already. A car stopped across the highway (luckily traffic was slow at this point), and a lady came over. She picked up the kitten right away and we noticed its little mouth and eye were bloody. We didn’t know what had happened to it, but the lady seemed nice & was willing to take it to a nearby vet.

She expressed that she is so thankful that we stopped because she never would’ve seen the kitten. We told her to contact us later in the day with the news on the kitten and she did! She emailed us that night and said it was in good hands at the vet and would survive!

Also, we were already melting by this point in the day. These girls are not the biggest fans of humidity. Check out some pictures of our sweaty little selves below.

After our little kitten incident, we took a break 5 miles later. The girls found a perfect little park with picnic tables where we laid out our meal for the day. We did some Rox bar sponsor photos, and relaxed in the shade (it was another scorcher). Em & Rach surprised us with a healthy and fresh lunch from a place called Lucky’s. They swear it is 100x better than Trader Joes, and are minorly/majorly obsessed with it.

Around mile 57, we came across a bike path again that reminded us of the one in Des Moines! It was shaded and SO green as it winded along a little river. It only lasted a few miles, and we actually added miles by taking it, but a good bike path is ALWAYS worth it. We exited the bike path in Davenport where we stopped at a Starbucks to figure out the remainder of our route for the day. We entered the city on Kimberly Road! (:

Due to some unforeseen obstacles, we were stuck at the Starbucks for about two hours. Around 4 pm, we jumped back on our bikes and pedaled across the Illinois border. One teammate wasn’t feeling so well, so we promised to take a team picture at the Illinois border in the morning (especially because we were staying in Iowa so we had to drive over the border in the morning).

We pushed on a bike path for around 20 miles as it winded up and down the rivers around the Mississippi! Crossing the Mississippi River was probably one of the coolest things because the bridge was a giant grate so we could look down and see through the crystal clear water.

The rest of the path was so scenic, with the exception of some geese. We came close to a geese attack because apparently they live on the bike path? One literally hissed so loud at me that I screamed, ha. Besides the crazy geese, the path was a dream.

Towards the last 5 miles, my bike started to make a weird noise. We pulled over to check it out, and it ended up being my disc brakes. A random gentleman pulled over and asked if we needed help. He checked out my bike and helped me get the brakes to stop squeaking just enough to make it the rest of the day. Luckily, a rest day was coming soon so we could take my bike in then. Thanks for stopping and helping us out, Ross!

Ross.JPG

We finished the ride with Ross, who was headed in the same direction, and finished in Rapid City on the waterfront. The van was parked there, and Em told us she had just met a little boy who lives two houses up and wanted to meet us!

She knocked on the door, and out came Joey. He was quite the character, but he might take the cake for our biggest fan before even meeting us. He even graced us with some cool bike tricks. He definitely gave us a big old smile and a laugh before climbing back in the van!

We drove to pick up Rach at Urgent Care (she needed some antibiotics) and then stopped for coffee. Here’s where my day went downhill…

I went to find my wallet.

It was gone.

My heart dropped.

I was 2000+ miles across the country and had lost my license AND debit card. I know the last place I had it was hours ago in Starbucks. Luckily, we were sleeping in Davenport/Bettendorf for the night so I was able to go back and look. Unfortunately, it was gone. I had a deep pit in my stomach with the realization that I probably wouldn’t get it back.

A minor freak out & some tears later, I found myself at the police station writing up a police report for lost/stolen items (Dad told me to do this). We went to both Davenport and Bettendorf stations and left my information, but with no luck. All of the police officers were super helpful and kind, though, which actually calmed me down quite a bit.

I took a deep breath and realized that these things are replaceable and life will go on. I honestly think that this was God telling me, once again, to let go and let Him handle things. I can only control so much.

We eventually had to give up the search and head back to the hotel, with dinner (Chipotle) in hand. I made calls to cancel my card, and climbed in bed. The term ‘exhausted’ doesn’t do this feeling justice. I was more tired after this emotional breakdown than I usually am after 100+ miles of riding my bike.

As I said before, today was a giant life lesson encompassed in some unforeseen & unlucky circumstances. I will find a way to get on a plane to go home without my license, and I will get a new debit card. If this is the worst thing that happens to me on this trip, then I’m going to be ok. Life always finds a way to go on.

So… at the end of the day, I’m thankful that God is teaching me countless lessons on this trip, even if I’m not always a fan of His methods. Tomorrow is a new day, and I’m committed to making it a damn good one.

day 31: 83.61 miles, 1919 feet of elevation gain

day 30: Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids

day 30: Marshalltown to Cedar Rapids

Our plan last night was to have another early morning… 6 am wake up & on our bikes by 7. Little did we know, the exhaustion of biking all day and then playing at a water park all afternoon would take its toll on us. We slept in until 7:30 am instead and then finally left by 8:30 am. I think we all needed the few extra hours of sleep.

We were excited for the first 17 miles of our ride that morning because Liz was joining us. She was Larry and Barb’s 26 year old daughter who also cycles! As we were saying goodbye to Larry and Barb, Larry made a phone call and got us an interview with the local paper. Liz led us right into town to the Times Republic (TR) for our interview.

in the interviewWe walked into the building and met with Mike Donahuey, who was the journalist on our story. He interviewed us (it felt SO official) with a voice recorder and took notes. He asked all sorts of questions and spent time getting to know each of us. Jim even made another surprise appearance. By this time it was 10 am, and everyone was saying “wow, you’re trying to go ALL THE WAY to Cedar Rapids today?”… aka this was our cue to get going. We said our goodbye to sweet Marshalltown and pedaled away.

The first 17 miles gave us lots of hills, and we were so thankful to have our Liz to help us through. Larry met us in Garwin, where we said goodbye to Liz as he drove her home. Thanks for riding with us, Liz! Now you have to come out to visit us in California!

in Garwin with LizAround mile 26, we got pelted with a hail storm. These states are so weird… it had just been a sunny morning and now we were in the midst of a record breaking storm. Thankfully, we avoided the worst of it throughout the day, but we still got sprinkled on for a few hours.riding into the storm.JPG

We took our lunch break around mile 45 where we laid out our stuff on the side of the road (since that was our only option in the midst of miles of corn fields). During our break, it started to POUR rain again! We all climbed in the car to finish eating and let the worst of it pass. Of course, I snuck in a 10 minute nap to rejuvenate a bit. If this trip has taught me anything, it’s that a 10 minute nap can change your life (kinda kidding, kinda not).

At mile 68, we saw our first gas station all day. Who would’ve thought that I would be so excited from seeing a gas station? Life on the road changes you, ha.

Then a huge accomplishment came at mile 77: WE HIT 2000 MILES!! It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in the past 30 days. It always throws me for a loop when I open google maps and look at our location because I often forget what state I’m in & how far away we really are from home.

The last few miles of our ride were stressful due to the high traffic area. We are finally leaving the land of endless cornfields and entering civilization, and it was quite the shock. The roads seem to have less shoulders and the cars seem to be SO much more aggressive. As much as we missed civilization, we definitely didn’t miss the chaos of busy roads as a cyclist.

We ended at Starbucks, where sweet Katie treated us all to a drink. I seriously can’t explain enough how excited 7 girls get when they see chain stores like this. We LIVE for a good Starbucks or gas station, LOL.

On top of that, our sweet little mama drivers surprised us with our favorite candies on our seats as we hopped in the car! They made us tell them all of our favorites at the start of the trip so they could surprise us randomly throughout the trip. They are the sweetest.candy treats from the drivers

After our little treat, we jumped in the car, loaded our bikes, and drove to Iowa City about 30 minutes away where our home was for the night. Our host family for the night was a friend of the Schrums who they had met at RAGRBAI (the big five-day cycling trip across Iowa that happens every summer). Tom & Sue gladly agreed to take in cyclists, and we couldn’t have been happier to meet them!

We pulled up to their adorable home, and our jaws dropped. I honestly thought that she was an interior designer. Everything was white and gorgeous… and 5 nasty, filthy, sweaty cyclists were taking over. They were cyclists themselves (so they understood, thank goodness) and they are used to hosting cyclists.

tom and sue's home

Sue had prepared us a meal that was SO GOOD and fit everyone’s dietary needs. To give a quick glimpse at eating with these 7 girls…. we have dairy free, gluten free, and a vegetarian. On top of that, I’m not too fond of seafood. Sue somehow worked around this and made a delicious quinoa casserole with a side of fresh fruit! It’s a rare occurrence that we can all eat the meal, so this was quite the blessing.

Dinner was followed by Apple Pie for dessert, and their son Ryan and his wife came to visit. They also brought their adorable Australian Shepherd who had more energy than any dog I know, and TRUST ME, my sweet Ru at home is quite the handful. The four of them spent time talking with us and helping us navigate the rest of the way through Iowa.

As if Sue & Tom hadn’t done enough already, they accommodated us EACH with our OWN bed. Judging from the appearance of their home, these beds were about to be dreamy (and I wasn’t let down whatsoever). I climbed into bed after dinner & a shower feeling more at home than ever.

day 30: 82.19 miles, 2851 feet of elevation gain

day 29: Des Moines to Marshalltown

day 29: Des Moines to Marshalltown

After a *restful* rest day (sounds stupid, but a lot of our rest days are not restful ha), we jumped on our bike to begin our next week on the road. We had a yummy breakfast at the hotel at 6 am, and left straight from there.

morning at Country INn

We wanted to beat the heat, which I feel like I’ve said in the past 10 blog posts, but it’s true. The heat was already brutal early in the morning. Somehow, we found a bike trail within the first few miles, but it quickly turned into gravel & dirt. We all had close calls to falling, and the amount of bugs on the path was ridiculous. Moths and butterflies popped out of nowhere, and we were constantly engulfed by them. It’s safe to say, the bike path wasn’t ideal.

We came to a crossroad where we were able to reroute away from the awful bike path. Our plan was to meet the support van around mile 35-40 ish, but in the middle of a small town, Ash heard a weird noise. It started off with a loud pop, followed by a continuous metal-to-medal clinging. We pulled over quickly and saw a HUGE nail that had punctured through her tire completely. You can see it below… it made two huge holes and destroyed the inner tube.

We called the support van since they were close, and we patched the tire while replacing the tube. Here tire wasn’t in the best condition, so we plan on switching it out soon. After fixing it, though, she was good to ride the rest of the day!

We also passed by a free bike (seen above) that we were willing to drag the next 20 miles until our break to surprise our drivers… the ongoing joke is that they have to ride ONE MILE at some point during the trip. We figured we had to get them a bike, right? Unfortunately, the tires were flat and the brakes were broken (probably why it was free). The drivers avoided riding that mile, but only for now!

Our lunch break was in a little town of Melbourne, and then we pushed until mile 55 where our homestay for the night, Larry Schrum, met us to help with directions. At this point, we were on a much nicer bike path headed into Marshalltown, so it was an easy stop!

We pulled over, and Larry was there within 2 minutes. We had our initial introductions, since none of us had ever met him before. The connection was through Jac’s professor Ethan Schrum, who was the nephew of Larry Schrum.

The conversations bounced around for the first few minutes, and Larry helped direct us into town. He also mentioned a pool, which after biking in the worst heat and humidity all day, sounded AMAZING.

While talking, a man named Tom rode up on his bicycle. It turned out that he was a well-known cyclist in the area who has done RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Race Across Iowa) for decades! He was stoked on our cross-country tour and told us how he always wanted to do that.

It also turned out that Tom was headed in the same direction as us, so we told Larry we would see him later, and rode off. At this point, we had our mind set on a pool, so Tom told us he would lead us there. The bike path dropped us off near a water park, and realizing it was only a $4 entrance, we were SOLD.

Tom stopped with us, and then another man named Jim (well-known public figure in Marshalltown too) started talking to us. They were both so excited about our adventure and insisted that they treat us to the water park. Jim said the city would pay him back because they would be so supportive of our trip!

We talked with the two gentlemen for awhile, and even met another guy named Bob Peterson who bikes every year on his birthday. He bikes a mile for his age, aka he bike 87 miles on his last birthday. WHAT A STUD!

We said thank you and goodbye to our new friends, and entered the water park. We were definitely the oldest ones there (besides the moms and dads), but we were also the ones having the most fun. The lifeguards may not have LOVED us, oops, but our time in the water park was one to remember. I don’t think I’ve had that much fun on a water slide in ages!

We went around the lazy river too many times to count and were probably too big for the water slides… but we made it out alive. We had permanent smiles on our faces, and we never wanted to leave. Thanks to Tom & Jim for the best afternoon ever!

Finally, we realized we should probably head out. We met Larry in the parking lot and he lead us into downtown Marshalltown to go to the bike shop. Here, we met Matt, the store owner, who hooked us up with free tune ups and labor on our bikes! Ash definitely needed new tires and we all needed to giver our bikes a little TLC. Thank Matt for the help, and thanks Larry for paying for our new tires and gear! We appreciate it so much!!

At this point, it was around dinner time and the clouds were rolling it. We were expecting a storm in the morning, but it was already hitting. Larry swung us by his daughter’s house (which was actually the cutest thing I’ve ever seen) and then we drove home. In this short amount of time, it rained an absurd amount.

“If you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes.” – apparently an Iowa saying. This is SO true because the rain eventually cleared and the blue skies came back. These midwest states are weird.

Anyways, we ended back up at the Schrum’s house, and let me tell you, it was the COOLEST house I’ve ever been in. It was a barn-style home, which means that it was built a long time ago with the intention of the barn below and house above. The house had so many secret doors and the most unique floor plan! It was a dream of house, with an incredibly green backyard and the sweetest patio deck!

Larry spoiled us with snacks until his wife, Barb, and daughter, Liz, came home. We met them for the first time, and then we had dinner. We had a bbq with lots of other treats, and our tummies were so happy! Thanks Schrum family for spoiling us!

After dinner, the exhaustion of our day hit us hard, and we headed to bed. What a day! If only we could end at a water park every day…

day 29: 58.52 miles, 1643 feet of elevation gain

day 28: Des Moines (rest day)

day 28: Des Moines (rest day)

Rest day, WOOT WOOT!

We woke up in our hotel room & had a relaxing morning filled with breakfast, blogging, and a bit of needed quiet time.

At around 11 am, we headed into the downtown area for a yummy brunch and mimosas! We made reservations at an adorable place called Centro (but pronounced CHEN-tro?). Their food was DELICIOUS, and the mimosas & bellinis were the perfect rest day treat.

After brunch, we took some pictures outside (since we were out of our sweaty jerseys for the first time in awhile). You can see some of them below!

Next came the running of errands and taking advantage of the big city. You ever see 7 girls in a big city after multiple weeks in towns of populations of 20? We looked like we had just been let out after years of being cooped up… it was quite the spectacle.

We found ourselves at Old Navy, the Verizon store, Bike World, and eventually an ice cream shop called Marble Slab Creamery (duh, we had to stop for ice cream). Of course, the ice cream was followed by a good post-ice cream nap.

For dinner, Ashlee’s Aunt Tanya & Uncle Jon (AND their brand new yellow lab puppy!!) came down from Minneapolis to take us out! They also got us the reservations and treated us to the two nights in our hotel. How sweet are they?!

Since they had gotten stuck in traffic and had to get home at a decent hour, we grabbed a quick dinner at Noodles & Company. Our time with them, though it was short, was a blast! Thank you, Tanya & Jon (AND little puppy, Lucy), for the wonderful dinner and hotel stay! Also, thank you to Tanya’s friend who baked us Monster Bars to keep us loaded up on sugar during our rides!

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They came back to the hotel with us, we took a few pictures on the pond behind our hotel, I ended up face timing some friends (sweet Morgan & Justine from work) back home, and then we all climbed in bed to get ready for tomorrow.

Today was just what we needed, and I think all of us are feeling rejuvenated going into this next week. Next time we have a rest day, we will be in CHICAGO meeting up with the boys! This trip is flying by WAY too fast.

Also, here are some updates:

  • we’ve each pedaled: 1864.61 miles
  • we’ve each climbed 52, 605 feet 
  • & together we’ve raised $41,102.00 for charity: water