Learning to ride as a group has a lot more to it than riding on one’s own.  There is a connection between the front of the line, the “lead”, and the back, the “sweep”.  Pacing to fit the whole becomes essential.  Safely obeying traffic laws and using biking hand-signals, we build endurance, group communication skill, and stamina.  We learn to appreciate the ability to explore and discover in real time, under our own power, up close and personal, eschewing both car and bus.

bike maintenanceIn addition to riding, the preparation also involves learning about bike mechanics, such as repairing a tire, tightening brakes, and proper cleaning and bike maintenance.

During our week away from home, our “regular” instruction continues to take place. Along with math, writing, and literature circle while on the island (learning happens … anywhere!), we will plan routes using travel guide, map, and compass, visit the Nantucket Historical Association and Whaling Museum, and live and cook meals at a former Coast Guard Station, now converted into an International Youth Hostel.

CELC incorporates student travel into our curriculum purposely – to bring young people outside their comfort zones and to open up to discovery of new elements in themselves, the world, and each other.bike maintenance

Two of our students are new to riding bikes, and for one of these students, it is an absolute first.  Here are some reflections from CELCer, M. Dixon:

Aching muscles. Tired bones. Helmet hair. These are all symptoms of Bike Fever, a common disease caused by traveling as far as or farther than one can easily manage, like we did today. The ride was five miles long – a simple stroll for some but a harsh and dangerous path for others (like myself!) I’ve been learning how to ride a bike for only a few weeks, and every time I practice, it gets a little bit easier. But every time CELC goes out, the trail gets a little bit more complicated. Tuesday was especially brutal – we faced ten thousand hills and ten million pounding raindrops.

Basically here’s how it went for me: ride, lose my balance, catch my balance (sort of), ride, slip, ride (not well), lose my grip on the handlebars, (try to) re-grip, slip, catch myself (barely), ride, and repeat. Sounds like fun, right? Honestly, it kind of was. Sure, my confidence decreased drastically after every slip and my legs burned, anticipating the worst, as I came to a hill larger than the last, but it was worth it; after every pedal turn, I knew that I was one second closer to being a good rider.

By the end of it, I was completely, 100 percent infected with Bike Fever. Aching muscles. Tired bones. Helmet hair.