500 miles later, we made it to Oregon!
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Week 2: Cycle for Science

Hey guess what? We’ve biked over 500 miles and made it to Oregon two days ago!! Yippeee! Writing to you from the windy Oregon outback, where we’ve decided to take a rest (or two) to soak our confused muscles in a hot spring (wheel life is tough).

Before we catch you up on our adventures, a quick call for help: anyone out there internet savvy and have a couple hours to make an interactive map of our route, where people can see our bike path and links/etc to each blog post?

But let’s zoom back in time and fill you in on some highlights from the past week.
(note: “zoom zoom” is the phrase we’ve started saying to each other when hills get steep or times get hard and we have to just keep zooming on. “zoom zoom wiki wiki” is the extended version reserved for special occasions, since “wiki” means “zoom” in Hawaiian. Etymology is complex but may be revealed in future posts)

4/22-4/24: Chicas in Chico

On Thursday, we taught our second lesson at Wild Flower Open Classroom in Chico in Nikki Ramey’s combined 7th and 8th grade class. This school is small and very unique – the “open classroom” charter school, which we will elaborate on in Nikki’s teacher profile, was in stark contrast with the public school we visited in Sacramento. Essentially, it is a hands-on classroom environment in which kids can get up and walk around between classes.
We put together the frame and wheels on the Sol Cycles, and had the students break out into teams to figure out how to arrange the motor and solar panel. Once they assembled the components and could explain how they expected the Sol Cycle to work, they took them outside and ran some experiments on them. Many of the kids were surprised they actually moved without a battery, and by the end of the lesson they were throwing around words like “friction” and “conservation of energy.” Here's us, pre-lesson:

After our lesson we went to the Chico farmers market and got caught in a flash lightening storm, of course during the one moment when we'd left all of our rain gear back with our warm showers host ("warm showers" is kind of like couchsurfing for bicycle tourists, and we've met some remarkable pedal powered people through it so far). Amidst the squealing children and frantic vendors, we were able to snap a few purdy pictures.

4/24 - 4/27: Climbing the Sierras

After much debate about the route, we biked outta Chico on highway 32, canyonlands falling away on either side. Our warmshowers host, Spencer, biked with us a good 20 miles and ~2500 ft before turning around (downhill, we watched, enviously). We climbed further ... and further and further. And then the mountains opened up and we had our first sweet taste of downhill and you could smell the pines, really breathe in the fresh air -- we looked at each other and that was the first moment we both really understood why we decided to do the biking part of this trip. 

Then the mountains returned and we pedaled uphill, higher and higher. It started to drizzle, the rain, and a little while later we realized we'd passed our (unmarked) campground. We decided to press on amidst the downpour, and we were rewarded by an incredible 6-mile decline into the Potato Patch campground, with views like these on the way:

We made it to the tiny town of Chester the next day, where we met the mysterious fraternal society E. Clampus Vitus for the first time. Their name is dog latin and their motto is "I believe it because it is absurd." We were smitten. Rachel even named her bicycle "Clamper", short for "Happy Clamper." Know anything about them? Drop us a line!

The next day, we were ready to kick out 60 miles straight to the North Eagle Lake campground. But adventures like these never serve up quite what you expect, and we found ourselves at the end of a dirt road ... in the middle of a forest ... that's what we get for following Google bike directions. We pushed through the forest, onto Susanville, and collapsed face first into an Italian dinner, and then into a cheap motel. In three days, we gained some 9000 feet.

4/27 - now: High Desert and the 395 Jive

We tucked 70 miles of high desert behind us the next day though, and camped in a front yard ride off the highway in the tiny town of Madeline (later, we were told we never should've stayed there.. but the grass was soft and the folks were withdrawn but neither menacing nor rude). And what a sunset.

The next day we put 12 miles behind us before reaching the unlikely town of Likely, with its general store and its saloon (with spirits to-go). Tom, the saloon owner, weaved all these stories about his life in Oakland and the bay (well, on the bay, in his boat that was allegedly once owned by the three stooges), before he retired to mix some drinks and good cheer, of course. Best of all, he had eight tiny kittens nursing in the sink behind the bar. Kittieeees!
And guess what! We finally made it to Alturas. That town has been on our (Google) maps for so long, we thought it might be a bit like El Dorado. No city of gold for us though: we spontaneously stopped to play bingo with the Ladies Auxiliary club and couldn't win a sheet to save our lives. The guy running bingo took a liking to us and took us in for the night. He and his girlfriend had a whole room set up for us and.. yes.. more cats.

Then on to Oregon. Ground squirrels scuttled squeamishly through the sage brush as we scurried out of Alturas, starting our third day on highway 395. The sky was wide open and strewn with lumpy clouds. This was the first day where the desert headwinds really started to slow us down. We could feel the aches and burns from the hundreds of miles behind us. We lost phone reception, and wondered what this vast, open abyss was on our left. A desert?
Nope, turns out this is Goose Lake, 100% dry. It's been this way for the past two years at least, according to locals.

And when we crossed the border and pulled into Lakeview and discovered Hunters hot spring and geyser, we decided to take a few days to relax and enjoy this view.
By the way, the blogs good'n active now, and just a click away! We have a bunch of days up, with more to come, now that we have a charger back to liven up this computer.

All the best,
Rachel and Elizabeth.
Copyright © 2015 Cycle for Science, All rights reserved.

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