Day 78: Spokes of One Wheel
Wednesday, August 17
South Lake Tahoe, CA --> Sacramento, CA
103 miles. +3,307 ft. -9567 ft.
Friends, families, dear readers! Processing the end of this trip has been a lot, so forgive me for the late post. I'm glad you've stayed with us this far, and I'm honored to share one final collection of personal musings with you all <3 sofa
Huge shoutout to our friend Kellie who joined for the first 60mi on a bike she had never ridden before with clipped-in pedals! It's true that biking is pretty forgiving sport - some of us hadn't biked more than 20mi before the trip and now here we are, biking multiple 20mi sections/day. But 60mi through the Sierras (and climbing right up to a mountain summit) right off the bat is a big deal! Also, it was so much fun to have a friend join and share our Spokes speak, car safety procedures, and mutual outbursts of encouragement and frustration on steep parts.
A foolish Sophia led us onto highway 50 even after it became a giant freeway with signs and cars that were not particularly welcoming. Thankfully we got off the freeway and continued on back-roads until we reached familiar suburbia. After weeks of biking through Nevada with no traffic lights, it's weird being back in car-packed roads and signs. Today, whenever I saw a green light, I quickly glanced back to check that my fellow people were close behind and then sprinted through, hoping that the light wouldn't switch to yellow then red. Except it did and one of us got stuck - oops.
Biking in a group and leading the group often involves an awareness that goes beyond your own body and location. In the little bubble of space surrounding you and your faithful steed, you're alone - listening to your own music, podcasts, breath. But at the same time, you're not alone because just a few meters behind you is another who is depending on you to stop, go, fast, slow. You get all this personal time (~7hrs a day), but it's a personal time you share with 5 other people (take a moment to think that through). It's really true that by biking as a group, we become spokes of one wheel <3
Perhaps to compensate for the terrors of highway 50 earlier in the day, the last ~13mi of our third century ride were on the lovely Jedediah Smith bike trail. Freed from the stress of whizzing cars and sensing the home stretch, all of us relaxed a bit, zig-zagging around the dotted yellow centerline of the path, biking without hands, making various animal sounds in the tunnel we passed through, and laughing a lot.
Golden hour enveloped us along with some stretched out California ground squirrels watching from the side.
Once we arrived in Sacramento, it was already 7:20pm and dinner with some church friends was happening at 8pm!! Tired, hungry, dirty, we speedily showered, jumped into Dora the Explorer (our car) and made it to the home by exactly 8:05pm (MIT time).
The families fed us delicious noodles, roasted chicken, salads, dumplings, fruit tart, and my favorite of them all, this amazing Chinese eggplant dish! Featuring Sam who opened his home to us, Priscilla and her baby Zoe, and a young working person named Ben.
During this summer-long trip, I've really missed the weekly gatherings and bible studies I usually go to in Cambridge: the dear people (ranging from cute babies to sweet older grandparents), the singing, the mutual care and prayer, and of course, the food. So these chances we've had to meet up with church friends in Charlottesville, Lexington, St. Louis, Denver and now, Sacramento have been precious times for me. The lyrics and piano accompaniment to one song that we've now sung with three different families in three different places (!!) is linked here. I also have a recording of us singing with the Sacramento people - lmk if you want it.
Photos featuring adorable baby Zoe who likes to eat Cheerios and take off her dad's glasses.
Now for some closing words.
One of the most frequent questions I've received on this trip:
what are you going to do in your gap year?
(for quick context: I deferred grad school to fall 2023 yay)
Another question I've received several times after the trip ended:
what's the biggest thing you've gained from the trip?
I'll answer both questions in one sentence!!
Since we actually did this, I think I can do something like this again.
With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to propose some wild and not-so-wild Spokes-related possibilities for my gap year. Feel free to comment your favorite.
live off the land by working at Pam's independent community in Afton, VA (where she is living off-grid!)
related to the previous point, learn to forage (we picked up this thick book of mushrooms from a little free library in Eureka, NV)
become an apprentice at the Mesa Farm Market (a goat farm in the middle of nowhere, Utah) ***the owner is actually looking for someone to do this. one catch - I don't love goat milk :P
learn how to ride a horse/work on a horse farm/race in a horse race in Kentucky (ideally in that order)
hike the Pacific Crest Trail (we've met several people who are doing or have done this!)
try bike-packing (aka biking without a support vehicle - our host Todd in Carson City, NV had a wonderful book on all the logistics, and we've also met several bike-packers including James and Rodrigo)
road-trip with Sasha (my golden doodle) along the Spokes route so she can meet all the dogs we've befriended on this journey!! (I would love for her to meet Moca, Gunther, and Barley in particular)
visit Mayor Jerry Fultz and King in Wayland, KY (the lovely couple we met in the former coal-mining town with current population of 406)
finally do a triathlon!! (I didn't do the aug 21 one mainly bc I can't swim without glasses :( )
run a marathon with my sister who first got me into long-distance running and therefore, long-distance things in general
work at REI (a previous Spokes alum is doing this right now! honestly I'd love to do this)
convince my brother or sister (or both??) to go on a short New England bike trip and share the love for gas station Helado fruit bars along the way
related to the previous point, buy an ice cream machine (inspiration: Adam in Great Bend, Kansas!) and make favorite flavors from this trip - in particular, strawberry balsamic vinegar black pepper from Salt and Straw in SF and peach vanilla bourbon from Clementine's in St Louis
chill in the Boston area, teach myself video-editing to make a spokes video, apply for grad school fellowships and bring my fellow spokes to Amherst for a weekend (pretty solid option huh....)
To simone, franklin, maxwell, robert, and mariela - let's eat two cartons of ice cream and a dozen donuts together soon ;) <3