The Container

Of course I somehow found what I assume is the most hipster part of Vegas. I’m sitting here now, in a courtyard-open-space type place. Basically just some mobile-mini’s in a circle around some free space with holiday lights. My view is of a chocolate shop, a locally sourced art store, and a place that only sells cupcakes. Not to mention the fact that I’m eating at “Simply Pure”–which has delicious vegan food and I highly recommend it.
I’ve denied being a hipster for a while. And I still do to a certain extant (which might actually make me more of one?). Then, one day in the car a few years back, my mom turned to me at a stop light, looked me in the eyes, and said, “I love you, Lilly, but you are so. Completely. Hipster.”
She has this voice she does sometimes, and it reminds me that she works in a high school. Her inflection kind of becomes like a stereotypical valley-girl, and she adds a lot of unnecessary punctuation for emphasis. It’s hilarious.
But I digress. The point is, I’m surprisingly unsurprised that on my first night away from Kloe and Kyle, I somehow stumbled upon this hipster-haven surrounded by the un-reality of Vegas. And as much as I hate to admit it, I kind of feel at home. Which is not at all how I have felt in Vegas thus far.
While Kloe and Kyle have been nonplussed and impressed by all that Vegas has to offer, I have been overwhelmed and startled to the point of spilling my drink, more than once. I’m glad we are experiencing it, but it reminds me of the Grand Canyon: it’s all just a little much for me to conceptualize and grasp, but I know I am supposed to be impressed.
Though sitting on the railing outside the Bellagio fountains last night will go down as one of my top feel-good-folder memories.

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Bridge School Connection

Whenever we stay with people we explain what The Bridge School is and why we are raising money for them. What is awesome is when someone has heard of it, and what is really awesome is when someone recognizes my LincVolt tee shirt. This has happened a total of twice, but that’s two more times than ever before while wearing the shirt, so I get pretty excited.

“Is that a Neil Young thing?” someone in Salida, Colorado, asked me.

“Yes it is,” I said a little too loudly and much too excitedly. I proceeded to bombard him with facts about Neil Young, our ride, and The Bridge School, to which I expect he was startled but he recovered quickly.

It happened again last night, in St. George, Utah. We are staying at a house with this amazing couple, Zack and Sarah, and their friend, Elliot, came over to play horse shoes and sit around a campfire. Elliot is from Sacramento, and immediately recognized my tee shirt and he asked me if I have heard of The Bridge School. This launched a great conversation about the reason for our ride and raising money, and The Bridge School Benefit Concert.

If I fund-raise for another tour, I am going to print little information papers about whatever the cause is, because it’s hard to explain it to everyone and have them remember the fundraising web site, but this time around spreading awareness has been going well.

Grand Canyon

From Day 14:

Today was our first rest day. We slept until the sun woke us up in our tent, and ate a luxurious breakfast of pop tarts and crackers. Tim, the amazing camp host we made friends with when he was confused where our car was and we explained that we don’t have one, lent us his car to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We were going to bike but I recently hurt my ankle, and it is much further than we thought from our campground. He has an old Subaru hatchback, and it has the best mix CD you can imagine on it. It is literally song after song of great 80’s music, from The Doors to Cindy Lauper to Simon and Garfunkel, the songs kept getting better and better.

After arriving, doing the obligatory photo taking and gift shop perusing, Kloe and I decided to embrace the “rest” in “rest day.” While Kyle went off and hiked around, we sat on the comfy couches and looked out at the great view. And I ate Indian fry-bread with pizza sauce, which is apparently such an odd pairing of food that the people gave it to me for free.

Hurricanes In The Mountains?

This post of from Day 7:

Today I found out what the purpose of the emergency phones are on the side of the road.

“Hello, this is not an emergency,” I said.

“Okay…” the voice on the other end said. I assumed it was a mid-thirties male.

“Can I make a phone call from this line?” I asked.

“Not a non-emergent one,” he said. It turns out his name is Tim.

I explained that we were at the summit of Red Mountain Pass, and it was pouring rain so we couldn’t make it down. My friend, Maddy, was already on her way to get us, but I wanted to touch base with her. Tim called Maddy for us, who was slightly frightened when her caller-ID read 911, but she ended up saving us from the storm an hour later. Luckily we were able to summit the pass successfully, though it would have been nice to reap the rewards of going down it. We have been spoiled, though, with amazing down hills, so it’s okay.

Mom’s Know Best

*We haven’t had a computer until now, so these are back logged blogs I wrote in my journal. This one is from day 4*

Okay, I will be an adult and just say it: My mom was right, and I was wrong. Things don’t go as planned and it’s good to have back ups. It took four days until we actually left our originally planned location and arrived to our predetermined destination.

It amazes me how much can come up. Between grossly overestimating how quickly we could bike with all our weight to underestimating how many flat tires we would get, our days have taken much longer than anticipated. But after the first night, where we–unbeknownst to us–broke into an Air-force base after dark and the people we were staying with had to come and pick us up, anything seems to be going better. And today we left Salida, which was planned, crossed Monarch pass at 11,000 feet elevation, and ended up in Gunnison, Colorado, also planned. Plus we only got one flat tire, which I got, five miles from Gunnison.

As the days go on, we are getting better acclimated to changing our tires quickly and improvising plans to help stay on schedule while not trying to ride more than we can. But each night it amazes me how much my mom was right when she said that no matter how much I planned, I would never be fully prepared.

6 Days and Counting (Or Not…)

I just took down the calendar in my room. When I need to pack, or clean, or really do anything, I go about it as I do most things: horribly inefficiently. Just ask any boss I’ve ever had; I can get the job done, but nothing about my process will make you think of the word logic.

I figured I could live without my calendars for a few weeks, but it turns out I was wrong.

“Wait, what day is it?” I asked my roommates.

“You have one weekend left until Labor Day,” Becky said.

And then I opened the calendar.

“What the Heck!!!” I responded. This has become my mantra for the last few days.

So there I was, 10 days away, and now here I am, six days away, in about the same place. I pick Kloe up from the airport in a few hours, and tomorrow we get Kyle. I remember when this trip seemed forever away, and I actually stopped myself from getting too far ahead. I wish I could go back and slap that girl, tell her no, keep figuring it out so I don’t have to now! But alas, when push comes to shove, we get on our bikes and head west.

“Are you ready for it?” has become everyone’s go to question.

For the record, the answer is No.

It’s not that we’re unprepared. I mean, we are, but we will be okay. The thing is, no matter what, we are going to be exhausted and realize that we forgot a lot of stuff, so I don’t see the point in preparing too much.

But don’t worry, Mom, I’m still prepared enough. And I’m getting pepper spray this weekend. 

Surprises

No one actually hates birthdays. I have “hated” mine forever, but really I just find it uncomfortable and I don’t like people singing happy birthday. Are you Justin Timberlake? If you are, go ahead and sing; if not, keep your mouth closed.

This year I realized that having everyone ignore my birthday is not the way to solve the awkwardness. While biking I had a lot of time to think, and I decided that all anyone wants is proof that their friends and family think about them. A card being passed around is enough; just something that says, hey, I knew it was your birthday without Facebook. A text is a lot, these days, even.

Which leads me to tonight, two weeks after my birthday, when my sister was adamant we skype.

“You and me, 10 pm your time, tonight,” she said this morning.

“I have a happy hour, but whatever,” I said. My friend, Ben, is in town, so I didn’t want to rush home to talk to my sister who I am in constant contact with. Leah is currently living with my best friend, Alex, so I talk to the two of them even more it seems, as of late.

I got home around 11 p.m., and after many failed attempts, we got Skype to work.

“Tell us about your bike trip,” Leah said.

This surprised me, because all I do is talk about the trip, so normally no one goes out of their way to ask.

We have nothing to talk about, I thought to myself. So I started on about panniers and fundraising and all the things I need.

Then it happened. All of a sudden Leah said something about twenty of your friends… and roommates, and birthday… And then Heidi and Nicole, two of my roommates, walked into the kitchen with a box for me.

“What do you think it is?” Alex asked.

The last time I saw a box this size was when I ordered a cup off the internet, so that’s all I could think of.

By this point I was already crying. The list on the box had around 20 names of people I care about, and it is an amazing thing to think that all of them took the time to participate in getting me something.

Then I opened it.

And I saw it was a GoPro.

And I cried a lot more.

All I can say is that I have an amazing sister for organizing this, and amazing roommates and friends for helping her pull it off. And I cannot wait to film everything on the trip to help document it.

“It’s so we can all see you fall off your bike,” Alex said.

So to everyone who contributed, Thank You. And I look forward to using the GoPro to help tell our story and spread the word about The Bridge School. Once I figure out how it works.

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24 And There’s So Much More

I did the first training ride of my life this weekend. I biked from Longmont, Colorado, to Denver. It was a success, in that I’m still alive, but a learning opportunity, as well. Which mostly means that technicality it was a fail, but that seems too pessimistic.

I learned a lot, to say the least. I need to be in much better shape than I am currently in. I am hoping to buy my panniers soon and start riding with them, because with no gear I still cursed any hill I enc ountered. At one point I had come to the top of a second mesa in a row, looked north at the road I was supposed to turn onto, saw the insane hill it involved, and decided not worth it. This leads me to the second thing I learned. I am horrible at following directions. Instead of looking at a map or having an understanding of where I needed to go, I turned on my phone’s GPS and blindly followed it. Which worked out well, until I stopped and took a 10-mile detour to Boulder. Even that wasn’t too bad, it was when my phone started to die leaving Boulder that I encountered trouble. I got so lost. My 40-mile ride ended up being something between 60 and 70 miles, an educated guess I’m making because the amount I got lost, I couldn’t retrace my route if I tried.

I told my roommates all this once I was finally home, and they all had the same reaction: Duh. Apparently it was obvious to them that I would get lost. In my mind, however, it could not have been avoided and none of it was my fault.

I got about ten miles out of Boulder and turned off my GPS to save phone battery. I then ended up on a dirt road that turned out to be a mountain bike trail, which I found out when asking a man for directions.

“You should catch a bus to Denver from here, it’s far,” he said.

“It’s like a thing, I’m biking to Denver,” I said.

He helped me figure out how to get off the dirt road, and I ended up at a Whole Foods, where my exhaustion led me to a horrible conversation with a delightful woman. After she told me where she used to live in Denver, I said, “Oh, there is a Trader Joes there now… which you probably don’t want to hear, seeing how they are your rival and all… I don’t even like Trader Joes. Everyone loves it, I don’t get the hype…” I spat out. I was delirious.

She helped me figure out how to get closer to Denver, and after a few more miles I could see the skyline in the distance. I ebbed and flowed from one road to the next for an hour or so before I came across a movie theater.

Maybe I’ll go see a movie, I said to myself. I walked in, then realized that the only money I brought was two dollars, and after finding a quarter I was still eight dollars short because it was no longer matinee time. I tried to sneak in, but my bike is not conspicuous at all. Not even close.

I sulked out and sat at a bus stop and called my mom. My phone was at 8% battery at this point. She was shockingly cool with me biking alone. This is surprising because the woman didn’t let me drive at night until, well… I’m still not allowed to drive at night while visiting.

I hung up with my mom, 5% battery. I called my roommate, Nicole.

“I want to make it to Denver, at least,” I said.

“Just name a place, and I’ll be there,” she said. She is a saint.

I told her to meet me at 72d and Federal, which is about 10 miles from my house. Relatively, I should have just biked home. Especially because once I got to the intersection, I knew where I was. But I couldn’t do it. I biked for twenty minutes thinking I was getting close, only to end up back at the movie theater. The last seven miles were actually at least ten.

Nicole picked me up at a gas station, to which point I just started laughing.

“I’m so unprepared,” I said, relative to where I should be a month before the trip.

“How do you feel?” she said.

“Like I want to cry, or drink, or cry and drink,” I said.

I got home with 3% battery left on my phone, and did not move for a long time. I played Neil Young’s Old Man on repeat. I have wanted to be 24 years old my entire life because of this song, and on my birthday all I wanted to do was go for a bike ride and listen to it, so that I did.

Rest Easy, Mom

Because we have a boy on the trip.

I approached Kyle the way I have approached everyone I have spoken to in the last few months, by asking him to be a driver. He instead expressed interest in riding, and yada yada yada, now there are three road rascals.

I told Kyle that I’d having to talk with Kloe about it before giving him an answer, and after weighing the pros and cons, we realized that there were not really any cons, and the pros are huge. Kyle was ahead of Kloe and I in school, but we had mutual friends so I got to know him by the end of it. I dragged Kloe to a few parties at his house, so they have met before, but don’t know each other that well. This was the biggest pro when deciding.

“So he will become one of our best friends,” Kloe said.

“Is that awkward?” I asked.

“I mean, kind of, but we are also on the cusp of a life changing adventure so we might as well add a new best friend,” she said.

It took more than that conversation to make the decision, but in the end we can’t turn down someone that will add a lot to the team and help us raise more money for The Bridge School.

 

Mountain Passes

I have no idea what Kloe and I are getting ourselves into. I drove to Telluride, Colorado, last weekend, for a bluegrass festival. It was 300 miles of mountains. In my mind, you go up a mountain, go down the mountain, and then are over the Rockies. This is not the case. Within 100 miles you can go over more than one “pass.” A pass, I found out, is insane. Monarch Pass, which we will be riding, is seven miles up at a six percent incline, then the same down.

“How do you do that,” I asked my friend who has biked it.

“Don’t brake, you’ll fly off your bike,” he said, nonchalantly.

“But there is no shoulder on the road,” I said.

“You are faster than the cars,” he shrugged.

The road shoulders are what Kloe told me to keep an eye on, so every few miles I would get excited if one was over four feet.

“Look at this one, it’s great,” I pointed out to Becky.

“And look at this one,” she said, as the shoulder all but disappeared around a sharp curve.

Pretty much our entire route from Colorado Springs to Ridgway, a town 30 miles from Telluride, is the same route that Bike and Build takes, which I kept reminding myself every time the car had trouble getting up a hill—are they even called hills when they are literally mountains?

It is amazing what the human body is capable of when pushed to extremes. This is what I told myself before the two centuries I did, when I realized that I had not trained at all for either. And this is what I am telling myself now, as I sit in my bed, having not worked out in days. I am glad we are biking for The Bridge School, an amazing organization where students are pushed everyday to work towards better communication, and an organization that pushes the boundaries on technology. Each time we entered another town and I saw the elevation sign increase by another few hundred feet, I reminded myself of how impressive The Bridge School is, and how I can’t complain about how sore my butt will be or my legs will be, because we will be biking for something so amazing. Or at least I’ll try and remember that on my way up—and down—Monarch Pass.