Mike Tipton of Teutopolis, who has volunteered at the station for years, said he had spoken to a woman in the team’s entourage.
“She said these guys just thrive on this,” Tipton said. “They look forward to doing this.”
The station and its many volunteers man a table with donated doughnuts, bananas, pizzas and other snacks and beverages, and soak up the stories stopped cyclists share.
Tipton even recognizes some riders from year to year. For the last few years, Gerhardt Gulewicz, who came in fourth place this year, had given Tipton a T-shirt on his way through. Last year, Gulewicz gave Tipton’s son a cycling jersey.
“It’s just interesting to talk to them,” Tipton said. “Listening to their experiences crossing our country — they see things I’ll never see.”
The school opened its locker room doors to the athletes, allowing them to get what could be their only shower during the race.
Smythe said he appreciated the volunteers at the time station, adding that a number of stations so far had been unmanned.
“The adventure’s been incredible,” he said. “We appreciate everybody coming out to support us.”
The team is slated to finish at 3:10 a.m. Eastern on Sunday.
Nicole Dominique can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 138, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.