A Linn County deputy's advice proved to be stronger than Iowa's heat and gusty winds Wednesday to 31 young adult cyclists traveling cross country.
The Portland 4K for Cancer team was enroute to Marshalltown on U.S. 30 as part of a 4,800 mile trek across the United States to combat young adult cancer.
Rider Kevin Cochran of Minneapolis explained.
T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY
Kevin Cochran of Minneapolis and a Portland 4K for Cancer team member is shown unloading a bicycle minus its front wheel from a van at Marshalltown’s United Methodist Church Wednesday afternoon. Cochran is part of a group of 30 cyclists who arrived at the church for supper and overnight stay. The cyclists will depart for Des Moines as part of a 4,800 mile trek across the United States. Enroute the group fundraises to combat young adult cancer and increase awareness of the disease.
"A deputy sheriff stopped us about 40 miles west of Wheatland and strongly recommended we discontinue for our safety," Cochran said. "He said the highway was heavily traveled and would be dangerous. We respected his advice, loaded up our bicycles and headed to Marshalltown."
First United Methodist staff greeted the team, although six hours earlier than expected.
The stop had been planned well in advance and cyclists were treated to supper and place to rest before heading onto Des Moines Thursday morning.
4K for Cancer is a program of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults of Baltimore, Md.
This year marks the 11th year young adults have personally raised a minimum of $4,500, trained and then climbed on bicycles to embark on a "life changing experience."
Three teams comprised of 88 riders departed May 27 at various east coast cities and headed west for a 70 day journey.
Cochran, a recent Johns Hopkins University graduate and team began their odyssey in Baltimore and will finish in Portland, Ore.
"We take somewhat of a zig-zag route," he said. "We are at the one-third mark today. We head due west to Boulder then head north and hit other points along the way."
Cochran was making his second cross-country ride on behalf of 4K for Cancer.
Nellie Honan of Portland, Maine is making her first.
Honan said she is a "runner" but was attracted to the challenge of cycling cross-country.
A friend who did a similar trip suggested she give it a try.
Honan and other riders acknowledged riding can be grueling.
"At different points friends provide encouragement," she said. "We have teams of four to six, which is helpful, because at segments in the day, people are on a high and push others to keep going."
University of Maryland student Matt McWilliams of Baltimore said he has learned much from the trip and being with other riders.
"I've gained more than I ever thought I would," McWilliams said.
He explained why the group is riding west to east.
"Going east to west is much more challenging than riding west to east because we are going directly into the wind all of the way," he said. "You think you are going about 20 m.p.h. but you are only going about 7 m.p.h. The other day we rode 120 miles. We left Chicago at 7 a.m. and arrived in Sterling, Ill. at 9:30 p.m."
Riders take turns driving vans which carry supplies.
Additionally, riders take turns soliciting food and beverages from area restaurants along their routes.
The Ulman Fund only provides us a gas card for the vans," said McWilliams. "Other staff make arrangements in advance for us to stay at churches, schools and other places. It is important that as much money as possible go to fighting cancer."
Since its inception at Johns Hopkins University in 2001, the organization has raised more than $1 million for cancer-related organizations and charities.
Visit 4Kforcancer.org or follow riders on Facebook or Twitter.