The Rockies and Utah

I literally left my blood, sweat, and tears in Colorado. The first day climbing, which was Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, was death. Shortly into the ride at about 9000 feet above sea level I started hyperventilating and got extremely lightheaded. The rest of the ride, which took us all the way to the top of Trail Ridge and was about 20-25 miles of straight climbing, went slowly and painfully. Every day after that even up until today included one significantly large climb, including Monarch Pass, Hoosier Pass, and the like. Climbing to 11,000 feet would eventually be the norm and gradually, fewer of us suffered from altitude sickness and actually began to enjoy climbing. Ad you might expect, we had some incredible views and some amazing sunrises and sunsets, as well as run ins with thunderstorms and changes in temperature of a good 20 degrees. The entire process of the climbing the Rockies took about five days and was more difficult and incredible than anything we could have imagined.
Since many of the towns we stayed in tended to be more on the touristy side, days where we didn’t have host meals (or even hosts st all) provided proved to be particularly difficult. One day, in Breckenridge, we found out last minute that we would disobeying city ordinance by camping out where we had planned as aided by our host, an alumnus, and therefore had to try and get a place to stay donated to us. The city was unhelpful and disregarded requests for use of the recreation center and other facilities, and the rest of the ride and much of the evening everybody was irritated and upset. That night, after we got unexpectedly charged for the showers we took at the local ice rink, we ended up setting up camp in the back of the alumnus’ house and had an awesome time around the campfire eating burgers and hotdogs that Scott, the Bike and Build alumnus, grilled for us. I told him that it was exactly what we wanted and he replied, “It takes a Bike and Builder to know one.”
We came into Utah two days ago to one of the outdoor capitals of the country: Moab. The incredible canyons, arches, and red rock make it prime for boating, climbing, mountain biking and hiking. We spent our build day working with an amazing organization called Community Rebuild, which relies on the labor of sixteen student interns to help build adobe houses for low income residents of Moab. The organization was started as a grassroots movement in Moab about six years ago to help replace the decrepit and outdated trailers that residents of the town have lived in since the seventies. The state of the trailers and HUD regulations on them makes it impossible for many of the residence to receive financial assistance in the form of loans and mortgages on a number of things, including home and medical bills. The adobe houses are made with straw bale–a product many farmers might just throw away or burn–walls, which act as a good insulator for the climate of Moab. The walls and floors are made with a mixture of the local earth and plaster, which help to absorb and slowly emit heat in the winter from sunlight coming in the strategically placed south side windows. The materials come cheaper than normal home materials and are much more sustainable, but they require twice as much labor, which is why the founder decided to employ stipend based students that would be incentivized to work based on the novelty of straw bale houses and the location in Moab. On our build day, we help to demolish a trailer that the fifth house was supposed to be in place of and built up the dorms in which the sixteen interns would be living in in the future. The program is really innovative and effective and I highly recommend it to those looking for a semester off.
Anyways, I’m currently on laundry crew at the laundromat doing all thirty riders’ dirty clothes. Time to go!

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Tour of straw bale house

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Hike in Moab

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Riding into Moab

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View from the summit of Trail Ridge

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