Week 12 +: DC to Shining Sea
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LAST UPDATE!!! Week 12 +

DC to Shining Sea

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for … the finale of Cycle for Science!

But first, some business:

1. Elizabeth and I are interested in what Cycle for Science meant to you, so we made a SUPER FUN SURVEY!!! Yeah surveys!

It would mean a lot to us if you’d take a second to let us know your thoughts! We are exploring the option of making Cycle for Science something bigger than just this trip, so this is super helpful to determining our next steps.

2. Those of you who ordered shirts or jerseys and have not filled out the perk form yet — please let us know what size you want here.

3. Has your address changed since the Indiegogo campaign went out? Email us to let us know. We will send confirmation emails again before we ship.

4. We want to extend a HUGE thank you to everyone reading this. A USA-SIZED thank you. Thank you for following along! Thank you for supporting us!

Ok, now it's time for the last update:

Happy Birthday 'Merica

Last update, we were frolicking through the Allegheny mountains and Potomac River on the GAP and C&O trails -- basically we were inside a snake's belly, with no sign of the outside world. And then, all of a sudden, we popped out on the other side of the snake and found ourselves in the center of Washington, DC, literally straight from a forest into a freeway underpass. This was one of the most shell-shocked parts of our trip. We were doused in mud and sweat (hadn’t showered for a week), and looked like this:

It was pretty surreal. We got to DC in time for the fourth, like we’d planned but doubted we could do way back in Wyoming. Our arrival to DC meant we’d made it to the East Coast!!! This was the moment Liz and I felt like we’d really done it, we’d really pushed ourselves to and past our limits and made it. We were here! The rest was going to be pretty leisurely — we’d be stopping in big cities and staying with friends. 

We took a few rest days, and stayed with Liz's friend Eitan and some of Liz’s relatives in DC and celebrated the 4th in style. It was sort of strange being around this many people all of a sudden. The transition was so sharp it almost felt like we hadn’t even biked here, but rather had just been in the city for an indefinite amount of time.

We also got to hang with the Department of Energy, and they shot this little video of us:


From DC we took off towards Philadelphia via Kent Island. We stayed at a campground on the edge of the Chester River, where we gobbled up a delicious sunset for dinner and sunrise for breakfast.

Sunset and sunrise at Duck's Neck Campground. Oooh, ahhh.

That morning was my birthday, and a squirrel bit THROUGH my Ortleib pannier into my granola and the birthday cake that Liz had left for me! (later I saw a dead squirrel with gushing red intestines on the side of the highway, so I felt some sort of redemption ... sorry for that imagery) We biked through some of Delaware, where the only requirements for a "bike lane" are bike lane signs posted on a busy two-lane highway with no shoulder. We stayed with a hip couple (both were bikers and lawyers), and then the next day we landed in Philadelphia.

Philly + Joisey

In Philly we taught our ninth lesson to a group of Burmese refugee students at the United Communities Houston Center. This lesson was one of our favorites, and we were pretty inspired afterwards. Many of the students didn't know what a 3d printer was, and admitted they had not had much experience with hands-on science demos, so we had them take the Sol Cycles out for a spin (it was sunny for once!). At the end of the lesson we talked about fossil fuels and renewable energy with an 11th grader who'd initially boasted "I hate science,” and she told us, bright-eyed, that she was now interested in studying the role of international relations in renewable energy and science. SO COOL!!!

Sol Cycle tinkering
A day at the races! The blast-off happened when they moved out of the shade.

We gobbled up some cheesesteak (Liz was not impressed), hung out with our host Ben for a few days (literally, we set up the hammocks outside even though it was raining), and then were off for the last two days of the trip. First stop: our final bittersweet night of camping, which we shared with Sandra in Jersey.

And next, a straight shot to the Jersey Shore, where we busted into the ocean for our first time in three months!!! Well, not so fast — on the Jersey Shore, beaches are not free. Nope. We ran towards the water and a woman stopped us to ask for our ticket. We told her we’d just biked across the entire country, and we just wanted to jump in the water, and she replied “I don’t care where you came from, you ain’t gettin in these waters without a ticket!” Woohoo, America! Fortunately a lifeguard ended up letting us in, and we plunged into the sea, helmets and all. That's when we took this victory picture:
We spent our last night on the road relaxing with friends, Kenny and Kevin (!!!), on the Jersey Shore.

To NYC and Beyond!

To conclude Cycle for Science, our last day was spent bicycling up the Jersey shore. In a massive downpour, of course. That’s the only way to end our trip. Dripping with rain and excitement, we caught a ferry at the tip of Jersey, and luxuriously floated into Manhattan. The sky cleared and revealed the majestic city skyline that we’d attempted to depict on our stickers and Indiegogo video several months earlier. NEW YORK CITY!!!

This is how we felt
We taught our final lesson at HYPOTHEkids (Hk), a summer tech and engineering camp run out of the Harlem Biospace (Hb). We taught three lessons -- to ages 5-6, 7-8 and 9-10 -- and Sol Cycles roamed freely around a playground in Harlem. At Hk, teachers are all addressed as "scientists," such as "Scientist Brian" (the teacher who had a 3d printer, as we quickly learned), and students are all addressed informally as "scientists." We were so impressed by this!

After full body massages and a finale picnic with our friends in the park, we rode to Rockaway beach to dip our tires into the Atlantic (nice lifeguard in Jersey wouldn’t let us bring our bikes, so we had to go back to wave goodbye once more).

And then we were packed up, and off on our own separate adventures.

This trip has taught us so much, I cannot even begin. One thing that's constantly on my mind: there really are good people EVERYWHERE. I mean everywhere. Whenever we were weary or needed a hand, people were there for us. In every single state. To give us food, a place to rest, or just supporting words or a smile to keep us energized. And it’s contagious. I think I can speak for Liz on this too, but the kindness and generosity we’ve received on this trip has given me such a positive impression of humankind, and a love and respect for the world I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. We found beauty, both natural and human, at every bend in the bike lane.

The end (for now).

Rachel and Elizabeth

PS! An archive of all our past updates are available on our website, HERE.
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