Day four… our final leg of the longest trek some of our riders have even been on, let alone for multiple days in a row. The consensus from many of the riders was sadness that it was the last day, even thru the aches and pains they were having so much fun that the thought of it being over saddened them.
Starting the day with 417.4 miles down they left Kankakee, IL with only 4 stops before pulling into the closing ceremonies at Mount St. Mary’s Park in St. Charles. The above average heat that the state has been experiencing forced the route directors to add an additional stop, at the Heaps Giant Pumpkin Farm, for the safety of the riders. Once again our two support teams went above and beyond to have anything the riders could want to keep cool, hydrated and fueled so they could make it to the end safely.
At the lunch stop in Oswego, IL, which was the last stop before St. Charles, it was the last opportunity to get a picture of our whole group together. From riders to mechanical support, to Illinois State Police escort and SAG teams, they all became a big family over the duration of the ride. Then it was onto the final, final leg.
The closing ceremonies were attended by Gold Star families, rider families, local officials, veterans, and many more. The excitement the riders must have felt riding into the park toward the finish line is indescribable. The path was lined by attendees waving American flags and cheering them on. During the closing ceremonies, amount the speeches and thanks that were given, each name of the 34 fallen were called and the person that rode in their memory was able to hang a dog-tag with the fallen’s name on a battle cross, there was not a dry eye in the crowd.
As soon as the ceremonies were over the pack up began to get all the riders home, whether it be from their family that came up to cheer them on at the finish line or their one last chance to ride in one of the SAG vehicles all the way back to Springfield. While the packing took place there were plenty of ideas being thrown around of what’s next, another ride, or something al-together different, they can’t wait to do something bigger and better the next time around!