• Franklin Zhang

Day 72: Into The Void

Thu, August 11

Eureka, NV to Austin, NV

63 miles and 2,848 ft of elevation gain.

For the past few days we've been biking on Highway 50, also known as the loneliest road in America. We've even been warned from past years of Spokes that this section of the trip was like a void. There were not many towns, stores or gas stations. We had to bring extra water and food for this section of the journey. Given all the warnings, I was prepared to just not see a single soul for days. Surprisingly, the loneliest road in America is not so lonely after all. People actually exist and are quite friendly. We also got to see some of the wild mustangs of the Nevada. When they see us, they often start running as well! They run at around 15 mph which is about our average speed while biking!

We’ve been talking about doing an early morning ride since the start of the trip. Waking up at 3 AM, leaving at 5 AM, and biking during sunset. We planned today to be when we’d start shifting our schedule earlier. But instead of waking up at 5:30 AM as we planned, we ended up staying in bed until 9 AM. Our plans were void and maybe our dreams of leaving super early will never be realized.

The night before, I tripped on a couple of steps and twisted my ankle a little. It feels fine for the most part and I forgot that it even happened, until 10 miles into today’s ride, my right ankle reminded me that it was hurt. So after the first stop, I decided not to bike and ride in the car for the rest of the day with Maxwell. We drove to the next water stop to wait for the bikers. They weren’t going to arrive for another 2 hours so we both started reading our books. I was finishing up the third book in the Mistborn series while Maxwell was reading Cadillac Desert. The wait was so long that we both ended up finishing our books. I really liked Mistborn and was sad that I finished reading the trilogy. I started this series at the beginning of the trip and slowly worked my way through all three books. Whenever we had a little downtime, I’d always read just a couple of chapters so it almost feels like reading Mistborn has become a crucial part of my Spokes experience. I even spent an entire caffeine-fueled night awake reading it. Now that I’m done reading but Spokes isn’t over yet, I feel a little bit of a void.

Do you know what else has a void? The housing section of our route planning spreadsheet for today. We actually didn’t have a confirmed place to stay for the night. After making a few calls, we were told we could camp at the park in town. After the biking refilled their water, we headed to the park. The park suspiciously had a sign that read “no overnight camping”, a sprinkler system, and also a suspicious-looking man hanging around. We decided that we didn’t want to risk getting kicked out in the middle of the night or getting surprise showers by the irrigation so we found a spot in an RV campsite to stay for the night. I made some feijoada (a black bean & meat stew) for dinner in an attempt to convert everyone into bean people. It was pretty yummy.

Since this blog is kinda short, I'll talk a bit about some things that we did as a team before the trip! For those of you who didn't know, we hosted a bike repair and safety workshop. During this workshop, we (mainly Maxwell) taught MIT students about how to swap inner tubes, adjust brakes, clean chains, and how to bike safely in the city. This event was funded by the Baker Foundation at MIT and we used the tools that we purchased for this event to create a toolbox that we brought along on our trip to do our own bike repairs. Many of us didn't have much experience fixing bikes so this was a great opportunity for us to learn about bike repair as well! In order to keep our bikes running smoothly we've been frequently cleaning our bike chains on this trip!

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