On May 24, Kevin Daliva ’14 and the Illini 4000—a non-profit organization committed to raising funds to fight cancer—began a cycling trek across the United States. Before the big trip, we conducted a Q&A with Kevin to learn more about his experience.
So how did you get involved with Illini 4000?
I first saw the group on the Quad. They were always out, and I wanted to be part of it. After a friend did the trip two years ago, I decided to apply. I’ve also lost relatives to illness, and I wanted to contribute to a worthwhile cause.
How does your team raise funds?
Each rider has to raise at least $3,500 before the trip. We write letters, sell things, and use social media to secure donations. We do a lot of fundraising!
Tell us about the trip.
There are 20 of us making the trip. We start in New York, hit cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, Boise, Salt Lake City, and end up in San Francisco at the beginning of August. We’re scheduled to stop in Champaign on June 8.
You can actually see our route on the Illini 4000 website. We have designated stops daily, places like community centers and churches. When we get out to the western part of the country, we’ll camp.
What kind of precautions do you take?
We do have a van accompanying us. If we have injuries, if we need help in any way, we can contact the van. We also have rest days. We’ll be staying off the interstates, and biking in packs of 5 or 6—never alone. We have to be cautious of dogs, and we’ve been told that as we move west, bison might be an issue!
As you bike across the country, what are you most looking forward to?
I’m really excited to see and bike through the mountains.
What’s an example of a daily menu?
Breakfast is something like oatmeal and fruit. Lunch is PB&J. And when it’s not provided for us, dinner is pasta, lentils, and fruit. We’ll have sports drinks and water on hand, too.
How do you train for the trip?
We meet throughout the school year. Twice a week, we’ll get together to run and do drills. As the year goes on, we ride increasing distances.
Do you ride in all weather?
We’ll definitely bike through rain, but not if there’s lightning or a tornado threat. In that case, we’ll call the van.
What are you taking away from this experience?
Until I joined, I’ve only done commuter biking. Now I’m constantly aware of bikes and more aware of the rules of the road.
Also, making this trip will be mentally and physically taxing, but we’re a team—and we’re all working toward the same goal.
Check out daily updates on the cross-country trek on the Illini 4000 website, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also read about Kevin’s own journey.