Tessa Pierce bio photo

Tessa Pierce

PhD Candidate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD

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I finally have some time on the computer again. I’m currently in Bloomington, Indiana! We have a build day today, but the Habitat for Humanity can only use half of us at once, so I took the morning shift and have spent this afternoon exploring Kirkland street with Sadie and Tatiana. I’m now at the library, but realized I forgot my camera cord, so the picture uploading will have to wait for our day off in St. Louis.

Massachusetts and Pennsylvania were very hilly. The worst days were into State College, PA and into Johnstown, PA. THe first day was our first century ride- or close to it. I only hit 99.18 miles, but was too tired to pedal around the block to even it out! The day was so long because we spent most of the day fighting a huge headwind. We were going through ‘rolling hills’ in Amish country, but the wind was so bad that we had to pedal like crazy to maintain a 10mph speed…downhill! There was no way to gain momentum for the steep uphill after each dip, so the day seemed to drag on and on and on. I’m sad I missed Megan (one of our leaders) telling an Amish boy to check out our website at bikeandbuild.org, and then laughing histerically after realizing he didn’t have internet. I had a really good riding day that morning- one of those days where you somehow have endless energy and can push past the pain and up those hills! BUt then by the afternoon, I was so beat I thought I wasn’t going to make it up that last hill in State College.

Johnstown, PA was the hilliest day we’ve had. We hit the continental divide at ~2500 ft! Yes, i realize the rockies and sierra nevadas are much much higher, but we did spend some of the day going up a 14% grade!

We all expected it to be flat the moment we hit Ohio, but it took us until central ohio to hit flat land. The ride into Yellow Springs, OH was the best day ever - 60 flat miles, 40 of which were on a well-paved bike path. Although there were no breathtaking climbs and the sights were mostly of cropland, I still had a great day. I spent the first half with Cali and Annie, taking it easy- singing disney songs and American Pie, playing word guessing games and chatting and then the afternoon hanging with Annie, talking about biking and the trip. It felt like a rest day! I got in by 2pm and we were taken over to people’s houses for showers! The couple I showered with also gave us black cherry soda and talked with us for a while - it was wonderful! The food that night was AMAZING, full of veggies and yummy alternatives to the pasta and red sauce that we’d been subsisting on during the previous week. Everyone in the town was super nice and there were knitted cozies on many of the lamp posts and street signs. An amazing green hippie town in western ohio-who knew! Our hosts also gave us gift certificates and drove us over to Young’s Dairy for some delicious ice cream. The town also had an amazing coffee shop that reminds me of the Julian Coffee House near my camp at home. MMM.

After I thought I couldn’t get any better, we rode into Rushville Indiana, and had more amazing veggie-ful food and wonderful hosts. I have to say, people in Ohio and Indiana are so nice! Where some people in Pennsylvania honk at us and yell that bikes belong on the sidewalk (which, by the way, they don’t - that’s actually illegal in many places), people in the midwest stop and chat with us, put us on the news. and open their hearts and homes to us, even when we probably smell and look like the dirtiest group of youth ever.

We are currently staying at an amazing church in Bloominton. It has a pool table, ping pong, air hockey, many couches and a big projector screen that we used to watch Breaking Away (a cycling movie based in Bloomington) last night. Today our food consisted of leftovers for breakfast, and donated Chipotle for ….BOTH lunch and dinner. wow. too much burrito. We’ve actually been really lucky getting donated food lately, which is great because I’m already a little tired of pasta with red sauce. The leaders seem to doubt our ability to get donations in the southwest, so I’m enjoing the food while it lasts!

I rolled my ankle playing basketball early in the trip, and since I’ve been riding on it a lot, it hasn’t been healing and has actually been getting a bit worse. I took a day off in the van and am hoping it will heal soon- it’s not fun watching everyone else tackle a day while sitting around. Well, since free time is a luxury and I don’t want to spend all of it on a computer, I think I’ll head back to the church. For anyone reading who hasn’t realized, we post a trip blog and trip pictures up on the bike and build website (bikeandbuild.org). If you click on the “2009 Route Tracker” and then “Boston to Santa Barbara” in the gray left hand column, you will see a map showing where we are in the country! Then on the right, you can click on the pencil to see the trip blog (one person is assigned each day), the camera to see pictures that have been posted, or the people icon to see everyone on the trip. Most peoble try to keep a personal blog, and you might find someone that is better at keeping up with the days!

I hope you all are having a wonderful summer, and thank you again for supporting me in this crazy endeavor!