That 7 am wake up call. I ran to Ace to pick up some more screwdrivers (turned out Home Depot’s minis were too mini for our bicycles), and also some nuts, washers, bolts, and super glue. Rachel ran to 7-11 for coffee and we shoveled oatmeal down our throats for breakfast.
Even with a viscious headwind over the causeway we made it to Cal Middle School averaging 13.4 miles per hour. I lagged a little but Rachel tore through those four miles, a little neon light at the end of the windy tunnel.
The first class was … haphazard. We definitely could have prepared better for it, but it’s hard to know how to teach a class when you just walk into it, and you’ve got no background with the kids and no real idea of what they’ve been learning. Rachel chipping in -- it didn't help that NBC was filming our FIRST EVER LESSON. I got so nervous I started eating my own words for lunch, which don't taste as good as the brisket sandwiches we had gobbled down the day before. It felt more natural once we brought the class outside to start playing with the Sol Cycles, but the first ten minutes with the giant cameras plastered in our faces were really hard for me.
But there were a few kids that seemed to really take to the lessons. They asked these incredibly insightful questions, they tried, failed and succeeded in tinkering with the bicycle. And we’re realizing that this trip is going to be about those students. We won’t be able to reach every kid we shake hands with. But we’re hoping we can somehow, in whatever little way, inspire a few.
Monday was the last night of home for me. Picked up some more Sol Cycles at the Urban Hive, printed for cheap by Rocket Department. Spent a couple of hours being enlightened by Pheonix, this thoughtful and relentless lady who founded LEEF Education. She’s one of those people I’m incredibly lucky to have met; her ideas will sit with me and shape me for years to come. Ash, one of the co-founders of Code for Sacramento walked in; he’s back from Iran. And we stayed with Caleb, Tyler and Ben, who I met through Fer, in the cramped and homey one-bedroom apartment they share with some pigeons and some beetles. Caleb made some hearty Jambalaya with sausage and rice and veggies and spice and we curled up on rugs and in old sleeping bags and drifted off to sleep to the sound of the city.
Back to Racheland for a bit:
While Liz picked up Sol Cycles and hung out with Caleb + co, I went to finally get that new bike rack from Bicycle Business (they do bike camping trips every week! You should check it out if you live in the Sacramento area, or wait till we get back and I'll go with you). While I was in the shop I suddenly heard the mechanic holler from the other room "You guys on NPR?” Turns out a middle school science teacher spotted the Cycle for Science sticker on my bike and recognized us from our radio interview the week before! I chatted with her for a while about science education, and the awesome "Dinner with a Scientist" program that she runs for her students.
Next stop -- my lovely cousin Lily's house! Sort of my last night of home too. She whipped me up a delish smoothie (dates, almond butter, chocolate, flax seeds I think? I lost count of the ingredients). Even though she was in the midst of finals week for nursing school, she let me gobble up some of her time (I quizzed her with questions about cardiac arrest) and she even drove me to REI (the last REI till Boise!) to pick up bigger panniers for my new "nice rack." Thanks Lilz! Then I popped over to Caleb's to help Liz eat the Jambalaya.