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Senior makes third cross-country bike trip

Rising senior Akhil Long loves the view over his handlebars. As a freshman, his interest in cycling led him to take his first cross-country biking trip from the Arizona desert to Yellowstone National Park. The next summer, he again traveled with Indianapolis-based bicycle club deCycles Indiana from Bloomington to the four Great Lakes near Michigan and back. Earlier this month, he completed his third trip, this time from Seattle to Denver and serving as a student leader.

Additionally, he attended two summer programs at different military academies, the U.S. Naval Academy Summer Seminar and the Academy Introduction Mission program at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Akhil said he enjoyed all three experiences for different reasons. On the 2021 Cascadia bike trip he biked 1,600 miles with a group of 40 students ages 13-22 along the Pacific coast from Seattle, Wash., to Portland, Ore., and then to Boise, Idaho, Salt Lake City, Utah, and into the Rocky Mountains in Colorado from June 10-July 4. 

He enjoyed seeing all the new sights, having only been to a few of the paces on the ride, including Salt Lake City. The trip is a challenging one and includes not only cycling all day but also making strenuous climbs like going through the Columbia Gap and climbing the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains. Yet it’s those challenges that have inspired him to make the trip over three summer breaks.

“The people I meet, the sights I see, and the adventure keeps me coming back to the trip,” Akhil said. “There is always something new every day that will either push or amaze me throughout the whole trip.”

This trip also had added responsibilities, with him leading the student group, something from which he benefited a lot, he said.

“I enjoyed being a leader on this trip, and I learned lots including how to motivate people and helping those who are struggling more,” Akhil said. “I liked having a bigger responsibility because it pushed me to learn how to act under pressure like making decisions for the greater good of the group.”

He also learned about being a leader at the summer sessions at the Naval Academy and Coast Guard Academy, which included various physical and mental challenges. He plans to apply to both academies and would like to attend either one because of “the educational benefits and the opportunities” each provides. Students attending the academies pay no tuition as long as they commit to serving in the military for a specified time following graduation.

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