About Lea's Foundation

In 1998, Lea Michele Economos, a young woman who died of leukemia at the age of 28, made a dying wish to her parents that others would not face the hardships she encountered by finding a cure for this disease. Her family started this charity to carry on that wish. Today, Lea’s Foundation takes an active role in finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myeloma and to better the lives of people living with these diseases. At the UCONN Health Center, the Lea’s Foundation Center for Hematologic Disorders sponsors research in this field. A new program covers the cost of bone-marrow testing to help recruit life-saving transplants for patients. Also, annual scholarships are given to children with leukemia who are planning to attend nursery school. For more information on other projects carried out by Lea’s Foundation, please visit their website at www.LeasFoundation.org.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Day 43 - Burlington, IA to Normal, IL (128 miles)

We survived our stay at the Lincolnville Inn with no need to use our bear spray. As we reassembled our bikes and bags after carrying them from our second floor room, we took in the stunning site of a blood red sun rising to the east. We set off towards Illinois and after a short construction site we were rolling over the Mighty Mississippi. 

Once on the other side we decided to walk down to the river bank for a better view. The mud was soft from flooding, but getting down to the Mississippi's river edge was well worth the effort (and frustration of scraping my cleats clean with a stick). 

We headed off Highway 34 for the first time since before Iowa, and into cornfields as we covered some county roads.

30 miles of rolling cornfields and occasional train tracks later, we arrived in Roseville. We found a local café and sat down for breakfast. While we waited for our food we talked with the owner about our trip, Illinois, and that today was his last day in the restaurant business before he retired and went back to police work.

Well-fed we headed off to Farmington (Illinois). Illinois has some of the rolling hills mixed of Iowa with the flat agricultural fields of Western Nebraska. Overall, I found it enjoyable. There were finally areas of trees with some deciduous shade trees overhanging the road that reminded us of parts of New England. Reaching the intersection with Highway 41, we saw the ironic "Star of the American Road". The service station has been out of state long enough for their pumps to have warnings that the fuel contained lead as an anti-knock agent. The miles flew by through the countryside and we soon arrived in Farmington.  We took the requisite pictures in front of the "Welcome to Farmington" sign, and then headed further into the town to grab a quick gas station snack. 

 As we sat down to cool off and refuel, a group of local boys arrived from their middle school football practice.  They had seen our bikes and wanted to know all about our trip.  They told us that the longest ride they had heard of before was when one of their friends road 10 miles to a neighboring town.  They could not believe what we were doing.

Once more we set off, this time continuing on to Peoria.  Peoria was the third biggest city we have biked completely through on our entire trip after Lincoln and Boise.  Despite its rough roads and broken up sidewalks as we approached Peoria, we ended up on a road with a wide, well-marked bike lane that likely afforded us the safest passage of our entire day's trip.  We sped through the city and eventually onto Illinois Highway 40, that led us over the Illinois River and to our Subway dinner in East Peoria.  Finishing up our food quickly, we set off towards Bloomington.  We knew that we had quite a bit of distance to cover in order to reach Normal, IL before it was too late.

We rode on an old railroad line turned bike path from East Peoria to Morton (River Trail of Illinois).  I talked with a 61 year old man who was out for his nightly ride on the path.  He shared stories of his riding and touring throughout Illinois/Iowa and offered some tips on the roads we planned to take for the next few days.  Reaching Morton, we rejoined traffic and pedaled at a brisk 20mph out of the city and back into the cornfields.  While there certainly is a lot of corn here, it does not bother/bore me the same way it did back in Nebraska.  Illinois has just enough curves and hills to help us keep up our momentum and engage our minds.  We rode through a number of small towns along Highway 150 as we mirrored the Interstate (Which we are unfortunately not allowed to ride in Illinois--Our post-dinner ride would have been shortened from 39 to 30 miles if we had been welcome to ride its shoulder). 

The sun set way before we reached normal, leaving us in the dark for the last 15+ miles of our trip.  The view was spectacular though as we rode the rising hills between wind turbines, corn and thousands of fireflies.  We wished we could have captured the scene on our cameras but knew that they would not have done it justice.  Eventually we pulled into Normal, and headed for the Denny's across the street to grab a late night meal.  It's such an odd coincidence that we keep ending up having lodging directly next to or across the street from 24-hour Denny's...

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