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  • Maxwell Yun

Day 67: Tired of Tires... and COVID?

Saturday August 6, 2022

Cedar City, UT to Milford, UT

54mi, 863ft elevation drop

After meeting up with Stanford Spokes, we realized just how similar our teams are. We both are bicycling across the US to teach STEM, we're both college-aged students with mirror images on other teams. And now, both of our support cars have gotten flat tires.

Our car's flat tire occurred yesterday when Robert and I were driving down some beautiful mountains from Bryce Canyon to Cedar City. The tire pressure light came on on the dashboard, and the tire pressure on one tire kept dropping... and dropping... and dropping. The car's handling felt a bit off, although it was hard to tell if it was the tire issue or the car's electronic lane-keep assist doing its thing. We drove slowly for a bit and swapped on the spare tire, slowly making it down to Cedar City without issue.

Swapping our (very) flat tire for the spare

We now had two options: swap our rental car for a different car, or fix the tires ourselves. Swapping the rental car would involve driving 2.5 hours to and from Las Vegas, the nearest large rental center, with no guarantees we'd get another SUV, let alone the same vehicle. Fixing the tires ourselves meant fronting a serious amount of money to swap all four tires (it's an all-wheel-drive car), hoping that Budget Rent-a-Car would reimburse us for the repair. I've dealt with Budget enough at this point and decided, with our MIT travel coordinator Sandi, to swap all four tires.

Fortunately, we were in a relatively large town -- Cedar City has a university, a population of 33,000, and a tire shop with the right tires in stock. Had we been elsewhere, we'd have to drive a long distance on our spare tire, perhaps the entire "Loneliest Road in the US" (US 50), never a good idea.

Cedar City felt in some ways like the last settlement before the unexplored wilderness. Cedar City has the last Starbucks on our route until eight days later, in Fallon, NV. It also has the last supermarket with fresh produce until Fallon. We'd be travelling eight days without these suburban conveniences, so we stocked up on groceries and filled our pantry with goodies.

Since I was sorting out car's tire issues, I did not bike for the day and rode along with Robert, the driver of the day. We grabbed lunch with our hosts Ken and Pat, learning more about their life in South Africa and experience with consulting for mining operations. They were super flexible and accommodating when dealing with our rental car situation.

After lunch, Robert and I said goodbye to our hosts then drove to our destination, Mountain View Baptist Church in Milford UT, meeting up with the cyclists there. We unpacked our bags and experienced a brief moment of normalcy, until Robert took a COVID rapid test.

Just like Stanford Spokes had some positive COVID tests... Robert's test was positive. In disbelief, he took another test, which also came out positive. We scrambled to test ourselves, all testing negative except for Robert. Then, we hurriedly planned to send Robert to quarantine in a hotel farther down our route in Reno, NV. This would involve Robert driving our car eight hours across Nevada, along the "Loneliest Road in the US", with Mariela and her friend Amira escorting him in Amira's car. (Amira has been very helpful this trip) We figured the hotel in Reno would be the most effective, safest way for him to quarantine and recover. It also meant saying goodbye to Robert for nine days, leaving him alone in a hotel room and disrupting his trip.

COVID rapid test party outside the church!

Sophia and I cooked a dinner of Hamburger Helper, broiled vegetables, and potato gratin. In my unbiased opinion, it was delicious. We ate outside the church so we could all eat together unmasked and plan out our COVID contingency plans.

yum fresh veggies

Today, we were initially tired of... tires, and getting our car's tires replaced. We then had to scramble to plan around a positive COVID test. We slept away, saying goodbye to a long, rough day.


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