Sophomore Akhil Long likely rode his bike farther than any other Providence student this summer. He rode his bike 1,500 miles from Tucson, Ariz., to northern Montana over three weeks with the Indianapolis-based bicycle club deCycles Indiana. He was one of 25 student-riders, including a friend of his from the area.
The group started in the Arizona desert biking in the mornings and evenings. The second week, the cyclists will biked through the Navajo Reservation and Zion National Park, one of nine national parks along the journey. The third week, the group crossed the Continental Divide three times and went as high as 8,000 feet above sea level.
Akhil said he particularly liked Zion Park and Bryce Canyon. Riding his bike through those area gave him a new appreciation for and perspective on the beautiful landscape.
“You can see more, feel the air move around you, and you’re more with the environment of the area around you,” he said.
The most challenging aspect of the trip was not so much the physical aspect of being on a bike all day but the mental challenge of dealing with the combination of the heat, the hills, and the miles of cycling.
“When you put it all together, it gets in your head a little bit,” he said.
But knowing everyone was dealing with the same thing helped him “push through,” he said.
At night, the group typically slept on the floor of churches along the route. They usually ate meals prepared by the church members, but sometimes they made their own meals and occasionally they went out to eat. Evenings were also a time to socialize and became the highlight of the trip for Akhil, he said. It was too difficult to talk much while they were biking because the wind made it difficult to hear and the exertion made it hard to talk. But at night, he made new friends, including some from Bloomington.
Akhil said he plans to join a local cycling club soon and to continue biking. He also wants to make the trip again some day and will apply again.
“It was fun,” he said.
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