Joel

Hey, my name is Joel and I am 15 years old.  I’m from the Dominican Republic and I love to play sports. I’m going on this trip because I feel it will benefit me in many ways academically and physically.  In free time, I love to play football and hang out with friends.  On this trip, I hope to learn many things and grow mentally and physically.  The reason I am going on this trip is to learn about the Underground Railroad and do something productive this summer.

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Armani

My name is Armani and I like biking at night.  Every night I sneak out and head to this place my friends and I call the death track.  I also love to write poetry and play games.  I want to go on this trip to spend some time away from my family and maybe I’ll find new inspiration for my poetry by learning about the Underground Railroad and the courage of runaway slaves.

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Hillary

Hi!  My name is Hilliary and I am 15 years old. I live in a house with my brother and my parents and I love to play sports. I like any type of sports and will try to play anything at least once. I love to play video games, and I love to play music and dance because I feel that music is a great part of my life. The reason I am going on this trip is because I would like to challenge myself by doing something that I have never tried before by riding a bike along the route of the Underground Railroad. For starters, I rarely ride bikes and I have never ridden a bike for a long period of time so this will really be a challenge.

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Javier on Day #7 – Friday July 8, 2011

Welcome to my blog ladies and gentlemen. My name is Javier Cabral and I’m sure you’ve read my short biography, but if you haven’t feel free to. One word to describe this day and possibly this whole trip is swag. Swag is confidence, greatness and your own uniqueness that nobody can replicate. The reason I say swag is because while on this trip, I’ve learned about different people that I didn’t really know well, but had small conversations with in school. I noticed that everyone is actually the same in their own way, but they each have their own swag.  Some brag like Tevin, and some just keep cool and let action do all the talking. In this trip I quickly made great bonds and friendships that I will hold close to my heart, that will never be ripped apart.

Well anyway, lets talk about my day, July 8 which is Day 8 of the 2011 Ohio Underground Railroad Bike trip! I had a rough night sleeping which led to a rough morning, but with the care and humor of my friends with their craziness it is hard to stay angry.  I tried to make the best of my oatmeal with the power of creativity and hope. I mixed it with Craisins, Cheerios and peanut butter. It was the most terrific and awesome failure of my life. It wasn’t awful, but it was bad enough.

Afterwards we got our bikes ready for what was supposed to be a 46 mile ride and God sent us a gift from the sky. It was called thunder and rain. It looked like there was going to be a storm, but it wasn’t raining at all when we left and my teacher wanted us to keep on riding until it rained. She is the boss and we must do what she says so we started our escapade with a little chant that went a little like this. “Make it rain, make it, make it rain.” It might sound corny, but it’s the corny things in life that make it fun and relaxing.

As soon as we started riding we hit one of the biggest hills of the trip. Hills to bikers are like  war. You ride and you ride and the fatigue builds on you. You want to give up, but you can’t because everyone is depending on you to get up there and at our pace (Swag Nation Pace) you have to be quick or you will be left behind with a teacher and you don’t want that. So our funny little Jamaican, Romario Jones, fell on his way and luckily we “made it rain, made it made it rain”.   Joaquin had to pick us up and drive us to the next campground. It was a gift from God to have this shower handed to us because we were all so tired and really needed it.  By the time we got to the campground, the sun was shining outside so we had to ride anyway because Rachel doesn’t like us to have breaks and wants us to ride until we turn into dust. She’s the boss and everyone has to follow her crazy directions. We rode about 15 miles and it gave me time to think about my life and find my biking pace.

Afterwards we got back and went to the Oberlin Historic Society and I learned that people there used to protect runaway slaves.  We were told a story about a black man who was kidnapped by slavecatchers and held outside of Oberlin and people from the town worked together to free him. Oberlin also has the first college that allowed African Americans and women of all colors to attend. We also went to an old school house and got to play with toys that kids played with in the past.  It was pretty entertaining. I gave Liz, our tour guide, our group picture to show our appreciation.

We left and got back to the campground and played a game of basketball. I learned that my anger is short tempered and ended up getting into a little fight with my close friend Tariq, but I regained my calmness and squashed the problems we had on the court. We then took showers, had dinner and our usual discussion.  I was the discussion leader and I asked about technology because during our ride we saw Amish people that don’t use electricity at all. Most people said they couldn’t live without it. Then I asked about what people will take with them after the trip and the one thing that struck me the most was the idea of friendship because I feel like everyone on this trip is now part of my family. Tomorrow I have to be the bike boss and lead Swag Nation back  so we can use our technology and eat fat food :) =P. Goodnight , I am going to sleep because I will need it tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Javier Swag Cabral

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Angie reflects on Day 6

Hi, my name is Angie Williams. I am your blogger today. Today is July 7th , which is also the 7th day of our biking trip. Today we rode a 30 mile ride. This ride was much more hilly then the others we have experienced so far. My fellow bikers thought it was going to be a peace of cake which so did I. We made a big mistake, it was the most tiring ride I had experienced in this whole trip. The hills were so huge, it was incredible how we got to the top of them. The group leader today was Marcel, it was amazing how he tackled those hills; I was so proud of him.

Today we ate lunch a little earlier than other days to fuel us up for those hills. When going up the hills, I stopped a while and felt I couldn’t go anymore, but my fellow biker, Javier, took my backpack and stayed with me to see if I was alright. He even let me borrow his asthma pump when I told him I had asthma and haven’t used the pump for a while. When I used the pump, I felt much better and felt that it was what I needed. I will always remember that he did that for me.

When we finally came  to the camp site, we were so excited because there was a beach. It was a long walk to the beach, but it was worth the walk. We knew we were going to have lots of fun when we got there.  I didn’t swim today, but I did find some swings by the beach which made me so happy because I love to swing.  I spent the whole time swinging.

When it was time to walk back to our campsite,  Chuck, Rachel, Josh, and Joaquin had a surprise for us.  Chuck had brought a water game.   The water game was composed of little balls that were called splash bombs. We put them in water and then got a big slingshot which we used to throw the balls. I had so much fun throwing the balls.

Now its the end of the day and we are making dinner.   I hear we are making rice and beans with salsa and chips. I am so excited about the rice and beans. I love them.

Now I am going to talk about the personal fun I’ve been having. I’ve been getting to know everyone these past few days, which kinda seems like forever. The boys all seem funny, and joke all the time. If you didn’t know, there are only two girls on the trip ( I’m not including Rachel). I’ve been getting to know the other girl, her name is Mariah, and she seams very nice. Mariah and I stay up at night and talk a whole lot. We have so many laughs together. I consider her my friend. I would love to continue this friendship in school.

I have been away from home now for  almost 7 days and I really miss my family (even though I’m having so much fun). The best part of my day is when I get to call my dad and tell him how much fun I’m having. I just wanna see him and his smile, the smile I love and that I always see on his face.  Tomorrow is my turn to navigate and be the leader.   I’m very nervous but I have faith that I can do it. Wish me luck!

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Marcel reflects on Day 5

Today is the 6th day of our journey through Ohio to explore the Underground Railroad. We all woke up at 6 this morning and took showers in the locker rooms. After, everyone packed up their bags and put them into the van. For breakfast everyone had oatmeal and cereal, a very healthy breakfast for a 35 mile ride in the hot Ohio sun.

Today was a very good day for everyone. We all stayed together and no one was left behind unlike yesterday when we split up a few times. Our leader for the day was Tariq who got us to our destination very fast. We got through 15 miles in 1 hour 30 minutes. We  made a stop at a fire house to use the bathroom. The firefighters were very nice people which is something I have noticed often here in Ohio.  Everyone is very friendly. Every time we ride by bikers they say “good morning”.

After the firehouse, the rest of the ride was easy. We stopped at a church after another 10 miles to eat lunch. For lunch we had sandwiches. I find it really great that churches let people stop and have a break.  After another 10 miles, we reached Kokosing Campgrounds.

When we got to Kokosing, the campground was pretty full. We setup our camp next to a fire place so later we could make hot dogs.  Romario,  Chris and I were fighting over who gets to sleep where. After we finished putting up the tents we got ready to go swim inside the lake. The lake was the perfect scene. The water was warm, the breeze was blowing and everyone was having fun. I spent about 1 hour in the lake. Something was nibbling on everyones foot. I jumped out of the lake once I felt it.  Later, we found out the lake is full of snapping turtles. After we got out,  we went and took showers. The showers were the best I have ever seen. The water was nice and hot. Now the day is almost over and everyone is just enjoying the weather and the company of each other.

We started the fire and started to roast some hot dogs on the fire. The hot dogs were great. A lot of people kept dropping the hot dogs inside the fire.  Then we made some s’mores which were really good. I felt like it was a good moment for everyone because we really came together. I was also  the discussion leader tonight.  I asked some very interesting questions such as how are people in Ohio different then in New York and what is one thing that you would change about this trip. The answers were very funny! Every time we sit and talk there is a great debate. Now that the day is over we are just relaxing with each other.

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Tariq reflects on Day 4

Today was day five of our ten day journey through the United States farm system aka Ohio.  We  began our crawl through the big farm that is Ohio at Zion Lutheran Church which by my account is the best church EVER.  Yesterday they gave us an awesome meal, magnificent fireworks (much better than any fireworks New York has to offer), and to top it off, when our poorly constructed tents got destroyed by a 15 minute downpour, that appears to only have hit West Jefferson, they let us sleep in the church. (Thanks to everyone for all of there hospitality).

Moving on, we woke up this morning to a Hurricane Katrina sized set back.  The destroyed tents that we had put out on the church lawn to dry were, much to our dismay, still drenched.  Anyway, after trying to clean up the wreckage we continued on to the second stage of our morning which is the repacking and making breakfast portion.  That’s where my downslide and the downslide of those in my tent began.  When packing your blue bag (bag with everything in it) you must pack these things.

1. Your clothes: no matter how much you bring you must pack it ALL

2. Your toiletries: Soap, toothpaste, toothbrush

3. And finally your camping gear: sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and your equipment whatever that may be.

Note: you must pack everything dry or wet regardless of if it fits in your bag.

Me and my fellow tent-mates failed to complete this list therefore leaving one of our chaperones without a place to sleep tonight.  See we THOUGHT we had packed all of our tent gear and as we found out tonight didn’t.  But I digress.  My morning got of to an especially inauspicious start as while I was getting dressed it appeared that I had lost a shoe, yes just one.   Those who knew of my prior camping history know that this wasn’t my first time losing one shoe while camping thus spreading laughs throughout my friends on the trip.  In other words while I frantically looked for my shoe the six other boys laughed hysterically while Satan(aka Rachel) nagged them about doing there assigned jobs.

After the huge cinniman pancake breakfast, we proceeded to load up the van and begin our adventure from West Jefferson 37 miles to land of the oh so intimidating Battling Bishops of Ohio Wesleyan (If you thought that name was intimidating just compare it to Ohio State’s mascot or the University of Michigan’s mascot, oh I mean letter).

Now to be frank with you the ride today was a cake walk compared to the 60 miles we did yesterday.  Everyone did great except for a close friend of mine, that friend’s name is Left Pedal.  While riding through the farms that separate West Jefferson from Ohio Wesleyan, Left Pedal who was already battling a huge crack through it’s middle took a turn for the worst and proceeded to crack some more and finally gave in to gravity and fell off.  This being as sad as it may be left me to pedal with the duck taped spindle of my bike.  To be completely honest, this wasn’t all that bad, but the pedal had to be replaced and it was with a metal pedal from  Chuck.  It was a metal pedal with a hook for your foot and I’ll never forget it as was the cause for my demise later on in the day.

As the day progressed we moved like an child actor in a Disney channel movie though each corn field and finally we arrived at lunch.  After the usual making of sandwiches and jokes,  we got a word from Joaquin.  He told us, almost like a Vince Lombardi pep talk, about how narrow and busy the roads were and how we had to stay on the right and out of the way until we reached our destination.  These instructions were followed to the T by everyone and it seemed we were going to make it without any crashes until IT happened, and by it I mean the slot on my petal gave out.  As we were turning around to turn on to a road we’d missed, the screw that kept my petal slot attached gave way under the extreme pressure of my gigantic super-sized leg. As I pushed down on the petal one more time to get my first push of momentum, the slot moved and my foot came squirting out of  the slot and I ate the pavement.  However, I got up and continued the 10 feet to where the rest of the group was now waiting and we continued on to Ohio Wesleyan where we got a tour and lived happily ever after.

P.S: My twenty dollar Tanzanian walking stick, which I got at the Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati broke and is now in object heaven mocking me with the rest of my broken stuff.

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Mariah reflects on Day 3

Good Evening everyone, My name is Marriah Cousins. Happy July 4th! Today was a very eventful and education filled ride through the town of Mechanicsburg and west Jefferson. To start off, the morning was very convenient for cycling. The air was cool and the clouds were out so our start was comfortable and the beaming sun was not out to drain us. After about 12 miles or so, one of our Underground Railroad cyclists encountered a flat tire. We were parked off on the side of the road while Josh and Rachel started to repair the tire and at the same time we ate some trail mix and drank some water. After the tire was repaired we continued along our trail. Our second long distance rest stop was at a church about 20 miles after our first stop. There we had some water refills and some laughter. Mysteriously, one of our cyclists, Chris, disappeared and of course we continued to ride assuming that he would get on his bike and catch up, but as we got farther and had no sign of Chris or Joaquin, we gave them a call and were told that some technical difficulties had occurred. So we continued riding.

At about 10 miles after the call, we encountered another flat tire in which the same sequence of events happened but we also had a cyclist, Tariq, that really had to use the bathroom so Chuck picked him up in the van. After the tire was repaired we continued on to our first destination, Mechanicsburg. There we met up with our two cyclist Chris and Tariq as well as Joaquin and Chuck. We met a woman named Elen who offered us some fresh fruit and cold water. We also met the mayor of Mechanicsburg who was really kind to us and he spoke of the history behind the name Mechanicsburg and the town. Also involved in teaching us some history was Charlotte, who is a descendant of a slave that is honored in the town. Charlotte is also the grandmother of John Legend, a famous R & B singer!

The slave,  Addison White, was a runaway slave, running from slave catchers and when he ran into Mechanicsburg, other citizens were informed and they dropped all of their belongings, stopped  what they were doing and went off to fight the slave catchers. Charlotte is an important part of Mechanicsburg and we were honored to meet her but we had to get going!

It didn’t take long for the sun to come out and it was about time to get on the road again so we left the town of Mechanicsburg with a memory of Elen, Charlotte, and the Mayors generous hospitality. We met Rod there, who in the previous BLURR trip rode with the cyclists from Mechanicsburg to West Jefferson. From Mechanicsburg, we had a little over 20 miles to go to get to West Jefferson and on the way Joaquin and Chuck met us and we rode the remainder to the church where we set up tents and got dressed as quickly as possible to go to the pool. To our misfortune, it started pouring rain and we thought that hopefully it would stop raining as we got there but it didn’t, so we went back to where our tents were and got dressed to eat at the church.

When we got back, we noticed that our tents were missing!  They had been blown into the bushes by the heavy rain.  So, we had to find our tents and put them in the sun to dry.  We will probably have to sleep in the church tonight because our tents are wet. We had dinner at the church and it was really fun to speak with all of the church members, they were really funny and charismatic. It was also another bonding moment between me and the other cyclists. Tonight we are hoping to laugh up a storm and watch fireworks together under the stars as well as fire some sparklers of our own. Today was a great day.

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Romario reflects on Day 2

Hello. This is Romario Jones, your blogger for day 2. This morning we woke up at 6:30 to eat  oatmeal with raisins, granola and bananas  and to pack our clothes. We had to pack everything before we could leave on our bikes.  When we were all ready to  leave Morgan Canoe Livery,  Rachel got a flat tire. After pumping her tires, we parted with Joaquin and Chuck and started on our 40 mile journey. Half way through our ride we met up with Chuck to refill our water and gatorade.  Chuck lives in Ohio and helps out with this trip every year.  We continued onward to Xenia where we stopped for lunch and rejoined Joaquin. Thanks to our leader for the day, we lost the bike path for a quick second, but we got back on and made it to our campsite in Yellow Springs.  Everyone in Ohio said hi to us while we were riding today.  People don’t say hi like that in New York.

When we got to the campsite,  we had to pitch our tents quickly so that we could go to a pool.  At the pool, we had a diving contest, which I won by doing a backflip, a frontflip and a twister.  After swimming, we took showers because there are none at the campsite.  Back at the campsite, Angie, Chris and Tariq made us dinner.  They made stir-fry with chicken and veggies.  It was better then the dinner we had last night.  After dinner, everyone got tired and just wanted to sleep.  I slept in my tent until I was told to get up and lead the discussion.  We got lemonade and oranges for the discussion tonight because we all felt so tired from the sun and the ride.  Because everyone was feeling bad, I asked how we could feel better tomorrow.  We all agreed we needed more games and need to drink more water.  We also think we should get our i-pods at night but Rachel said not to think about it anymore because we are not allowed to have any electronics.  Even though we did not do any Underground Railroad stuff today, we got an idea of how it might feel to travel in the hot sun all day.  Like I already said, we were so tired tonight and slaves running away from their masters must have been just as tired as we were.

Tomorrow, we have to ride 60 miles so we all decided that we should get up earlier.  Earlier means at 6am so we can leave by 7am.  I think we are going to see fireworks and have a big dinner at a church tomorrow.  Well, that is all from me.  Thank you for reading our blog and good night.

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Tevin reflects on Day 1

Hi! I am Tevin. We got to Maysville, Kentucky late last night after a 17 hour train ride from New York City. The train ride was ok, I guess. We got on it at like 6:45 in the morning. On the train, I first went to sleep for 5 minutes until Chris and Tariq woke me up. When I finally got to sleep without anyone waking me up, I slept until about 9:00 and everyone was up but Mariah. She was still asleep on my shoulder. When she woke up, we went to the cafe car to play Monopoly and chess which we pretty much played for the entire train ride.

This morning we woke up early in order to have time to pack the lunches and get to the Rankin’s house across the river in Ripley, Ohio. When we got to the house we had to hike up the face of a steep hill and it had just stopped raining so it was slippery. At the top of the hill was the Rankin’s house. It was on the top the hill because the Rankins hated slavery and they were a checkpoint and safe house on the Underground Railroad. Being on top of the hill, he could see slave hunters long before they crossed the Ohio River from the slave state of Kentucky. After we visited the Rankin’s house, we went to John Parker’s house which was just down the steep hill by the waterfront. Reverend Rankin and John Parker worked together on the Underground Railroad. Instead of being a checkpoint like Rankin, John Parker was an extractor. He was one of the few that went into the south to pick up runaway slaves and help them get to freedom in the north.

The last stop we made was to the Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. At the museum we watched a movie that showed how Rankin and his many sons and John Parker worked together to help free slaves. The movie was really cool because we had just been to all the places this morning. On the third floor of the museum, we saw a new exhibit on slavery around the world today. I never really thought there was slavery today, but I learned about human trafficking and other forms of slavery going on in the world. I think the day was interesting overall. It was long, because we were so tired from the train, but I learned a lot.

Tonight, I was also the discussion leader at our campsite. This means I had to ask the group questions about the day. We talked about why some people chose to fight against slavery and some people did not. It is now 10:30 and I just have to go to sleep even though Rachel wants me to write more. Tomorrow, we are going to ride about 35 miles. It is supposed to be an easy ride, but it is also supposed to be hot. Hopefully, we will get an early start and beat the heat. Well, that is it for today. Keep reading our blog! I think this week is going to be an adventure.

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Chuck Harmon on his third journey with Bronx Lab

I have spent the last week reflecting on my favorite week of the summer and perhaps my favorite week of the year; the week that I spent with seven remarkable students from the Bronx Lab School and their equally remarkable adult leaders.

This is the third year that the group has invited me along to share their adventure so I have grouped my memories, in no particular order, in sets of three.

·         Students who exhibited strength of mind, body and spirit

·         While conquering heat, hills and headwinds in Ohio

·         Led by three remarkable adults Michele, Rachel and Joaquin

·         Beans on the left and corn on the right, corn on the left and beans on the right along with an

occasional tree farm.

·         Instant oatmeal, sandwiches and Spring Rolls

·         Travel by train, van and bicycle

·         Museums, safe houses and small town mayors

·         Flat tires, broken pedals and more flat tires

·         Swimming pools, rivers and lakes

·         Churches, Local historians and Ohio residents that were inspired by our tour

·         Horses, cows and mosquitoes (the state bird of Ohio)

·         Rising at 6:00 a.m. every day, journaling and awesome discussions

·         Self reliance, trust in travelling companions and shared responsibilities

·         A warm welcome by Ohio Wesleyan University, the Zion Lutheran Church and Ohioans

in cities, towns and rural areas

·         Sun screen, aloe and bug spray

·         Soccer, football and the water game

·         Blue skies, dry weather and Amish horse and buggies

It all adds up to one remarkable week in Ohio, but this journey is more than a one week journey.  The students had to prepare themselves for several months in advance of their trip to build the strength, confidence and resolve to allow them to meet the challenges of a week-long bicycle tour.  In closing, I would like to thank The Adventure Cycling Association and The Center for Minority Health at The University of Pittsburgh for creating the route that inspired our trip and Math For America (with special thanks to Shawn Rene Graham) for sponsoring this year’s adventure.

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Shawn Rene Graham

Hi, this is Shawn René Graham.  I just finished riding more than a hundred miles and it was one of the most exciting trips I have ever made.  In the spring, I started riding with the Underground Railroad Riders and it is amazing to see their progress.  Riding all those miles through the stops along the Underground Railroad and learning more about the history of slavery was enlightening and transformative.

I met up with everyone at the Freedom Center in Cincinnati on July 2, where we had a great tour through the exhibits.  Harvey, our tour guide, asked a lot of questions about what we knew about the history of slavery but, more importantly, he pointed out that although there was a lot of history in Ohio, we should all return to New York and research what is in our own backyard.  The displays were amazing and so realistic, especially the original holding pen where slaves were shackled and waiting to be forced onto ships.  It is unfathomable when you think about it.  In this context, I think about how strong my ancestors were and I remember that I am not a descendent of slaves, but of those who were put into slavery and managed to survive under horrible living conditions.

On Saturday, July 3, we left Morgan’s Canoe Livery at 9 am for a 45 mile ride.  I have to say the kids keep really good pace now and the training has paid off. I do okay, but I am gassed at mile 40.  And gees, the hills at the end on the way to John Bryant State Park have me wide-eyed, but not bushy tailed at all!!!! I do make it and immediately think about napping.  The kids went swimming at the pool in town and later prepare delicious spring rolls and cream cheese wontons for dinner.

On Sunday, July 4, the kids were all packed up and ready to go at 7:49 am.  After one day of riding in the heat, no one wanted to be on the road during the hottest part of the day.  Chuck, our bike tour guide decided to change the route a little bit, but didn’t say we would be riding rolling hills for 25 miles!!!!  We rode into Catawba, where we stopped for lunch and stopped again about 6 miles later in Mechanicsburg where we met the mayor, a real treat for Team Bronx Lab.   Mechanicsburg was also a station on the Underground Railroad.  We learned about Addison White, who made his way to freedom here.

Then we were on our way to West Jefferson, where the kids would camp out for the night.    Fransys beat me up that last steep hill and zoomed on into town!!! We road by nothing but corn fields in 98 degree heat, but the ride was well worth it. There was all-you-can-eat BBQ awaiting us at Zion Lutheran Church.  Later, we sat directly under one of the best fireworks shows I had ever seen.  They were so close, it looked like you could reach out and touch them.

I know that we adults talk a lot about what teenagers should be learning, but it turns out that they have taught me a lot about persevering and being flexible over the past few days.  The truth is I was afraid to ride all those miles and camp.  I doubted myself before the trip because I did not train as much as I wanted to and only do the outdoors in the daytime.  Ha!!!  But I made it and I am grateful that Chris, Dawry, Fransys, Isaias, Joshua, Theo,Wade, Michele, Joaquin and Rachel helped push me along.

Thanks for the memories guys!!!!!  And ride on!!!!

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Fransys reflects on Day 7

Hola! My name is Fransys Molina, the one and only girl student on this fabulous trip here in Ohio. I would like to begin by saying that I am loving this trip; its the greatest experience and the best opportunity I have taken advantage of at Bronx Lab. I’m loving the state of Ohio and the country lifestyle, the cities and the people. People here are very friendly and helpful. They wave at us even if we don’t know them and they are there when we need them. The campgrounds we have been in are amazing, the rides are very challenging, the weather is hot, nights are fantastic and I just love the fact that it feels free and open!!

Today is our 7th day on the trip, shortest ride of the week; and yes we have had our ups and downs on this trip as a group but today it was literally the hills which were going UP then DOWN. I feel very proud of myself (even though I hurt my ankle) and my group for riding responsibly, fast, safe, and together! I’m glad that we have enjoyed not only this ride but every other day we have biked. We like the roads and moving fast on our bikes as we move downhill. We also enjoy the sites of Ohio as we are biking. From what I’ve seen and noticed there are a lot of farms and corn fields, cows and horses; dogs, cats,and birds running freely about. The hills today were very challenging but we managed to get through them.

Currently our cooking crew is cooking our last meal of the day which is pasta. We always have 3 different people each day making us our meals. I feel like these different jobs are making us more independent and responsible, they have helped us become stronger and allowed us to make this trip our own. In addition, these jobs have made us work together and learn about each other. The best job I have had on this trip so far is having to be the bike boss. I like it because I get to manage the group on the rides.

In conclusion, even though this trip is called “The Ohio Underground Railroad Trip”,  this trip is not just about the Underground Railroad and it’s history.  It is also about getting to know a different state, a different environment and getting to know each other.  It is about challenging ourselves to work as a team both on and off the bikes.  Most of all, it is about learning.   Learning about history and learning how to work together.

Tomorrow, we are doing our final ride together we will be riding 46 miles we will be riding to Oberlin, which is our last stop.  It is our last stop because during the time of slavery, fugitive slaves found safety and freedom with the many abolitionists in town and it was the first town to offer school for African Americans. I’m looking forward to this last and final stop, because with it I will remember and embrace all the great times I had with my group of guy bikers, my teachers and new friends. I will cherish these memories  of Ohio and the Underground Railroad my whole life.

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Wade reflects on Day 6

Hey my name is Wade Atkinson and  this morning we got up at 6:00 am  to make breakfast and to get ready to head out.   We were to ride 34 miles this morning and we wanted to beat the hot sun.   When the sun is hot we do not ride as fast as the teachers want us to ride. When they say we have to ride faster,  we get mad but today was one of the best days and we didn’t have any kind of problems. 

The breeze was cool in the morning and we rode faster than the previous days. We got to our lunch stop early and we asked the teachers how fast we were going and they said 15 miles an hour. And that is the fastest we have ever gone.   We got to the camp two hours before we planned to so we set up our tents and jumped in the lake.

There was a tree that was half way in the lake so we started to jump off it and we were doing all kinds of things. We were playing tag, marco polo and then we got out of the lake and we started to play football.  One of the bikers jumped off the tree and slipped on a rock.  His hand looked like it was broken, but he was fine and he jumped a few more times. He also started to swim again but not for long because the teachers told us it was time for journaling and dinner.

We have to make dinner every night and do other things like get water and wood for the fire.  Tonight, we made hot dogs and hot coco.  We also had s’mores.    Finally, we had our nightly discussion where we talk about the day.  Theo was our discussion leader and he asked us a lot of questions.  We are like one big happy family.

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Isias reflects on Day 5

Hi, my name is Isaias .  This morning was the best morning of all because it wasn’t as wet as all the other mornings.   The temperature was nice and cool while we slept but I was tired because the night before we stayed up late watching fire works which were awesome.  The fire works were awesome because they were practically across the street meaning they were close.  When we woke up we got changed and ate breakfast even though we were tired.  The breakfast was provided by the church we stayed at. There were eggs, pancakes and of course delicious syrup.  We then filled bottles and coolers which was my job because I was water boy.

Today we rode 36 miles which is a short ride but that doesn’t mean it was not challenging.  There were hills that just went up and down and felt like it was forever.  I decided to go in the back to rest but then I was well rested and got right back up to the front.  My fellow bike mates did not like that.    Basically it was just us switching back and forth but it was fun in the end.  For the most part there was  a lot of sun and farms.  We saw a couple of horses, cows and of course CORN!

After all the corn we finally arrived at our destination, Ohio Wesleyan University.  Once we got there we set up our tent right in the front yard, took an interesting shower and went on a tour of the campus.  In my opinion the college is a great place with lots of opportunities and a friendly environment .  The college has a variety of majors and great dorm rooms.  The feeling of being here is like being in a town but at a school at the same time which makes it great because as a student, you won’t feel like you’re in school the whole time.  Right now we are making dinner and after we are going into town for ice cream. Overall it was a great day and if I may add the ice cream makes it even better.

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Theo reflects on Day 4

This is Theo. Today, the first thing I did was wake up and then I was told that we were doing 56 miles today. Even though I didn’t feel like it  my tent buddies and I had to take down our tent and get ready for breakfast. My bowl broke so I had to use my cup for the cereal we all had for breakfast. Joshua had another boiled egg for the 3rd morning. After breakfast we started riding.  I was feeling a little weak but I still rode. I thought I was going to be in the back the whole time but I actually got up in the front of the group.

It started getting really hot at noon and I was so sweaty and I felt really dirty. Chuck rode with us a little like he did the other days. We met Rod, the church pastor’s wife when we got to Mechanicsburg and we also met the mayor. That was really cool. We read about an african slave who survived a fire and saved the church bell.  The town of Mechanicsburg also helped him escape slave catchers who were looking for him.  They hid him and sent him North along the Underground Railroad.

The mayor was a funny guy, we made a hand shake that was gucci. We started leaving the town and Rod was leading us to the Zion Church which was our next stop. On the way there I had 3 flats in my front tire. I don’t know why but it just happened. The last tire that was put in was good though.

We have now arrived at the Zion Church.   They had a sign in the front welcoming us and that made me feel good. We set up our tents and went inside the church and met a few people. After a few minutes we went to a pool because it was really hot. We played marco polo and had a lot of fun. I THINK I learned how to swim,  though I am still not too sure.

We went back to the church and met more people. Joshua and I started playing the piano and I think we had a contest which I beat him in.   After that we had dinner which the church cooked for us and it was awesome. We had fun and talked to Chuck’s wife and daughter which was nice. Joshua and I then presented a gift for the pastor of the church and it was funny because we were supposed to say happy 4th of July and Josh accidently said Happy New Years. We’re all here now waiting for fireworks which I can’t wait for.

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Dawry reflects on Day 3

Hi my name is Dawry Rodriguez. Today my friends and I rode 45 miles. We all were tired from the visit to the Freedom Center in Cinicinnati. The ride was not very challenging because we all rode 100 miles just a few weeks ago. When we were riding today,  we passed a nice town that is called Yellow Springs.  This is where we are camping tonight.

When we finished the ride we had to put up our tents. When we finished putting up the tents we went to the pool. When we came back we had to make dinner. Every day we all have different jobs to do.  Today my job was to help my friends if they had a problem. Other students have to do different jobs.  For example,  Francis, Chris, and Josh had to clean after dinner.  I like having a different job every day and think it is cool that the students have to do all the work to make the trip smooth.

Dinner was spring rolls, wontons, and some left over chips. I am looking forward to riding 50 miles tomorrow.  We are riding to a church where we will meet lots of people from the town and have a bbq with them.  We are also going to see fireworks because it is the 4th of July.  I am really having fun on this trip.  It is one of the best things I have ever done.

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