Meet the MIT Spokes

It’s cold outside up here in Alaska, so here’s a re-post from when the sun shone and the weather was warm. Through Colorado and into Utah I rode with a bunch of MIT students – the MIT Spokes team- who were riding across the country and teaching science and engineering in local schools as they went. I did s guest post on their blog so here it is, reproduced in all its glory. Enjoy! 

MIT Spokes group shot
Parting with the Spokes South of Salt Lake City

Hi I’m Greg, and for the past few days I’ve been riding with the MIT Spokes team on the road. I met them quite by chance and joined in for a bit – it’s been a really great ride so far.

Until recently I worked for a university in England, but then I decided to take a year out and ride my bike to China. I’ve never been to America before so I decided to head West across the US, and I’d been going for a couple of months when I bumped into the Spokes. It happened in the middle of a pretty empty part of Colorado. After a hardly seeing another cyclist all through the South, I was coming down off the Rockies when a speck appeared in the distance …

There are lots of dinosaurs in Utah
There are lots of dinosaurs in Utah

Wait, what’s that?
Is it a motorbike? No, too slow.
Is it a pedestrian? No, too fast.
A local cyclist? This place isn’t ‘local’ to anywhere though!
A touring cyclist? Surely not, they’ve got no panniers.

Who it turned out to be was Bethany and Alex, and within a few miles I’d meet the rest of them too. Since then I’ve spent a couple of days on the road with them, where they’ve been very accepting of a random Brit in their midst, with nothing more than a couple of minor blank faces over British/American slang.

Lost in Utah
Hey wait, were we meet to come this way?

Quite simply, I think what they’re doing is amazing. Going across the country teaching STEM is really worthwhile. Too many kids shy away from what they see as hard subjects so it’s great to have exciting young people to inspire them – and to show that not all Physics, Engineering or CS majors are like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory!

What they’ve achieved is even more amazing. I’m seriously struggling to believe that most of these guys were never regular cyclists before the trip. To knock out 90 mile days, day after day looking as totally smooth as they do, that takes class. I really hope they keep riding afterwards because there’s some real talent here.

Nice paceline
Nice paceline

So, what else can I say? If you’ve ever wanted to do a trip like this, or any big adventure, do it. Do it now, because the cords that tie you down will only grow tighter, the reasons for not leaving will grow more persuasive and before you know it you’ll be looking back at what could have been. There’s no time like the present to start planning your escape, working your way out of your commitments and setting off on the trip of a lifetime. The MIT Spokes bunch have the right idea: do it while they can, and inspire others while they’re at it.

I’ll be parting company with the Spokes crowd in a day or so, when they’ll continue to San Francisco and I’ll head up to Alaska and then Japan. Follow my trip at http://lostbyway.com – and sign up to be an MIT Spoke next year!

Relaxing in a hammock the Utah desert

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