fruit (i’ve picked) so far

raspberries – the family made them into jam and salad dressing

mulberries – on the side of the road

black raspberries – not very ripe, but taste good because they were at the top of a hill

lavender – this was my favorite because although I didn’t pick it myself, I watched our host John pick it and then proceed to put a bunch of it in our van to try to eradicate the stench. It doesn’t get better than that.

-olivia

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The Group Sees Dinos

It’s been a busy first week for the spokesamerica team as we’ve started our journey across America. After stuffing two cars full of workshop material, everyone’s clothes, plenty of snacks and 7 bikes we trekked from Boston to Philly and finally to Silver Spring, MD (s/o to Margalit’s boyfriend’s parents for letting us crash at their place). It was the first time most of the team had ever been to Washington, DC. Naturally we embraced our inner tourists and spent the day meandering around our nation’s beautiful capitol.

After a day of scrambling and site seeing, we gathered on June 10th to have a late start at the Washington Monument in the middle of the east coast heatstroke. Half way through the day Thi ate a record-high 5 cliff bars! We safely coasted our way through Alexandria and Lorton before taking a quick rest stop in Occoquan, (where Cody inhaled an ice cream cone in 30 seconds flat). Our day came to an end upon arriving at our warmshower hosts for the evening in Montclair. It was incredibly hard to convince ourselves to leave in the morning, Cindy & Jerry we’re two of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. They were incredibly kind and hospitable, offering up their home to 7 smelly college students and cooking two amazing meals to boot!

It’s been an eye opening experience to meet so many kind hosts in this first week who are so quick to open up their homes and share a meal with complete strangers. We’ve been incredibly lucky to have such interesting hosts, sharing in tales of previous biking adventures and future endeavors across the world.

We’ve been averaging 50 miles a day, carving through Fredericksburg, Barboursville, Natural Bridge, and Shawsville. A special mention needs to be given to Natural Bridge. While Natural Bridge would have offered a breathtaking view, we decided instead on stopping off at Dinosaur Kingdom II. It was an amusement park re-imagining the American Civil War with one catch, the Rebels miraculously have a dinosaur army at their disposal. Yeah it’s exactly how it sounds: amazing, inspiring, dinotastic, and incredibly historically inaccurate. There was a time machine, an old scientist, a rush to find a priceless gold treasure, slime creatures, and oh so many dinosaurs. The main plot through the park?…We’re still piecing it together. On our way out we ran into the artist himself, Mark Cline. Upon asking, he revealed that the conclusion to the park’s cliffhanger will be revealed in his comic book next week. Needless to say, we’re sold.

Each new day has brought us interesting challenges in this long first week. Between tackling steeper and steeper hills, prepping workshop material, finding places to crash, and keeping well hydrated we’ve all kept plenty busy.

We’re all smiles as we prep for our first learning festival in Hazard, Kentucky in two days!!

~Cody

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the beginning

The beginning has been a smooth-ish ride. We met up at the Washington Monument in D.C. yesterday morning, George Washington watching down on us. Our 8am depart time turned into a 12pm departure, which was fine, except it meant we had to deal with more of the heat of the day (which was VERY hot). We broke the 35 miles that we had to conquer that day into three more conquerable chucks. In the first chunk, we passed through Alexandria (and a swarm of bees) before settling for some tuna and peanut butter sandwiches approximately 12 miles into the ride. After the first chunk, the next two were much more manageable (I think the rest of the team agrees) because we understood our pacing and hydration needs better.

We arrived at our first WarmShowers host, Cindy, precisely five hours behind schedule, but the sweat of the day was washed away when we jumped into the lake behind her house. The sun was setting and the bullfrogs croaked in the background (which we later discussed at dinner is becoming higher pitch b/c of global warming) as we splashed around in the water. Cindy and her husband Jerry were wonderful hosts who spewed generosity by making us a beautiful dinner and breakfast, which we ate on their porch while talking about our past travels and the adventure on which we were embarking. They told us about their community, their family, and the countless other people they have hosted over the years. Cindy and Jerry- you set the bar high. 

-Olivia

p.s. lack of wifi is to blame for late post

Planning, Planning, Planning

Hello World! You have stumbled upon the blog of a crazy group of kids who are biking across the USA this summer, while simultaneously teaching math and science. We are Spokes for America, an MIT-Harvard joint mission to distribute a little bit of the STEM (Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics) from Cambridge, Mass. to areas of the country that might not get the science exposure that we do here.

 

While still in Cambridge, we’ve been brainstorming how to implement this mission most effectively and how to safely bike between the nine schools/organizations where we are hosting Learning Festivals. We’ve met with professionals about how to best communicate science to middle-schoolers and we’ve spent a lot of time at Ace Wheelworks in Porter Square making sure all our gear is in check.

I am going to talk some of our success and challenges thus far, before the list grows out of control when we start biking on June 11th!

Some of our biggest successes have been communication and organization. Past years of Spokes have commented how we are way ahead of where they were during the planning process, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like that. It’s been a challenge with all of our schedules, and one of our members in Japan for the semester, but we made it work. In the beginning, we assigned people specific group roles, but throughout the semester these roles morphed and metamorphosed as new tasks needed to be completed.

Our biggest challenges thus far have been one of our members getting too sick to be able to participate and one of the bikes being stolen. I think that our group handled these setbacks with grace and compassion, making me confident that this is going to be a great summer with amazing people.

Thanks for reading, and check back in throughout the summer for a bit more entertaining posts. Now, I have to get back to taking inventory of what supplies we have and what we still need to purchase to make riding and teaching as disaster-free as possible…

-Olivia