Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Even more videos!

Ashley and Jacki of my Southern U.S. 2009 route have put together a fantastic documentary of not just our route but Bike & Build as an organization.

Here we are, seven months after the end of Bike & Build, and I still have my arm tans (although not remotely as dark as seen in credits of the video, but noticeable nonetheless). Bike & Build sure leaves a lasting impression . . . ;)

Be sure to watch in full screen!

Bike and Build: Be The Change from Ashley Berkman on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More videos!

Hey guys,

I've posted some more Bike & Build videos to my youtube page. When you click on the link, it will automatically start playing from the first new video I uploaded, and the rest will play automatically, so just keep watching to see all of the new videos.

These were all videos taken by fellow Bike & Builder Kerri Socha, and one of the videos actually features me (Nina) as the subject (ahem, dearest mother who complains that all of my videos are videos of other people). ;)

Alternatively, you can watch ALL of my uploaded videos (including the ones uploaded a few weeks ago) here: all 68 Bike & Build videos. Comments are welcome! yay!

I will keep this blog open (as well as my twitter) and continue to post (albeit less frequently) any biking or Bike & Build related events in my life.

Thank you all again for supporting me!! Bike & Build was the coolest thing I have ever done and such a great cause to boot. :)


Thursday, September 3, 2009


Check out the compilation video I made with most of the footage I had taken over the summer!

Bike & Build: Southern U.S. 2009 from Nina Chen on Vimeo.

All of my unedited videos can also be seen on my youtube page, including a few that didn't make it into the compilation vid.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


My hundreds of Bike & Build photos are now available online, hooray: http://picasaweb.google.com/zenithguitar.

Additionally, my study abroad pictures from last fall in London are also posted there, for those curious about my other cross-country, er, cross-continental adventures. (For the extra observant, the "10-17-08 london, stonehenge, and bath" album documents Becca Bainbridge's visit, so you'll be able to see pictures of both of us not biking. Shocking, I know.)

But wait, there's more! Videos to come soon! :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Downieville, CA to Yuba City, CA

I decided to ride with sweep that day, which meant that I left the host last with Anna Baeth and Luc. The host was this house in the midst of a gorgeous, winding mountain road that follows along this super, clear river. Almost everyone was stopping at the cafe at mile 5 for breakfast, since it was only a 72 mile ride day and thus a "short day." As usual, Bike & Build swamped this little cafe that only has one waitress and one cook, so it took some people up to 45 minutes to get food. I got the eggs & bacon breakfast, which comes with 2 eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, toast, and a little slice of watermelon. Luc got the deluxe breakfast, which is all of the above plus sausage, as well as two pieces of french toast and two gigantic pancakes...i.e. 3 breakfasts. Everyone ate their food (and scavenged some of Luc's pancakes), and we didn't actually leave the cafe until 10:30am. Rebecca and Laura joined us (Rebecca said that she had been at that cafe since at least 7:45am, haha), and we headed out to climb the first mountain.

Halfway up the mountain, we run into Tim's group (Tim, Laurel, Max, Anna, and Jordan) and stop to find out that they were picking blackberries from the side of the road behind the guardrail. We ate a lot of wild blackberries, which were all along the side of a cliff. At one point, Rebecca held on to the back of my jersey because I was leaning forward really far to reach some larger blackberries that had been yet un-scavenged by hungry Bike & Builders.

We crossed over a dam on the way to lunch (the water was SO BLUE. Like the kind you only see in tv commercials for the Bahamas or something).

Fifteen miles after lunch, we stop at an intersection where we see a restaurant with bikes outside. We go inside and see Tim's group is getting food, so Luc and I get some fries. Then 11 miles after that, we stopped a gas station where Ashley, Jacki, and Emily Boydstun were, and then a bunch of us got ice cream. Laura got an It's-it, which Tim had told us about and was super excited to have once we got to the San Francisco area. (It's an oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwich dipped in chocolate.)

Fifteen miles later, we pass a church sign that says "Jesus is why there is myspace in heaven." I stop to take a picture. We then get lost half a mile from host. After asking for directions several times, we finally make it, where dinner and showers awaited us.

As sweep, we determined that being sweep basically means that not only do you stop when others stop, but that you eat when they eat. I.e. you eat all day: eat big breakfast at some cafe in morning, go 10 miles, meet up with one group who's eating, eat with them. Go 10 more miles, meet different group that's snacking, eat with them. Go 10 more miles, eat at lunch, etc. It's great!

Quote of the day:
"Feet, fart, and fun: the smells of Bike & Build" - Anna Hankins

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day off in Ely, NV

Here is the third journal that I have written for the group journal page.
My day off in Ely, Nevada began with me waking up at 7:30am, which had been the earliest I had ever gotten up on a day off. The fact that I accidentally fell asleep at 6pm the previous night may have contributed to my “early” wake up time (still late by our 4:30am standards). As usual, there were already a few people awake by that time, so we wandered around in the dark finding out if people were interested in getting breakfast. By the time we left, about half the group had waken up, so we all headed out to the Silver State Restaurant, which was recommended by our host.

The directions we were given by the host including cutting through a cemetery, but when we reached it, we discovered that sprinklers were on in the morning and thus drenching the walkway with water. We had a dilemma: should we run through the sprinklers or walk an extra half a block to go around the cemetery?

We hesitated for about 30 seconds. Suddenly, the cemetery was filled with a dozen yelping Bike & Builders running awkwardly downhill in their flip flops while trying to dodge the sprinklers (and failing miserably). By the time we reached the bottom, everyone was in hysterical giggling fits and more awake than they would have been had they had three cups of coffee.

However, that is not to say that we still can’t have three cups of coffee anyway. Or seven. To say that we enjoyed the free refills of coffee at the cafĂ© would be an understatement. We also thoroughly enjoyed our real breakfasts that had lovely things like eggs and pancakes! Ah, the simple luxuries that one enjoys after living on a food budget of $4 a day for two months.

After breakfast, the girls in the group split off to go visit some of the local thrift stores. Our mission: to find completely ridiculous (and fantastic) outfits for roller derby day. We had decided near the beginning of the trip that the girls would dress up in roller derby costumes for one day and give each other roller derby nicknames, such as “The Hammer” (Jane), “Sonic” (Anna Baeth), or “Hurricane Nina” (real name unknown). Today we decided to finally put this plan into action and debut our outfits the next ride day. Some of the better outfits included a green halter top with hood (it IS as odd as it sounds), two identical leopard print dresses with matching cardigans, and a bright yellow belt covered in frayed, blue denim patches. Thrift stores are great – I got my camouflage overall skirt with matching camouflage shoes for a grand total of $1.75 . . . roller derby was clearly a big budget day.

Afterwards, people split off into little groups that went to the library, got ice cream, or just explored. I ended up walking back to the host with Becca and Rachel Bainbridge, and we once again cut through the cemetery, although this time the sprinklers were no longer on. We did, however, get stopped by a passing pickup truck. A somewhat elder looking man leans out his driver side window and beckons us closer. As we approach, he asks, “What side of a chicken has the most feathers?” We stare at him blankly for a few seconds before I realize that I know the answer and blurt out, “The outside!” “You got it!” he says, while pointing his finger at me and slowly driving off. Becca, Rachel, and I look at each other and just burst out laughing. I think it’s safe to say that we all just had a once-in-a-lifetime experience, since I’m pretty sure that I won’t be stopped in the middle of a cemetery to be asked a riddle anytime in the near future.

Later that night, we watched “He’s Just Not That Into You” while eating dinner, since someone had rented it from the video store. It was certainly interesting (we made fun of the bad advice the movie kept giving), but we haven’t watched movies in so long that it was still something to do. Then another night of sleeping on a gym floor before roller derby day the next morning!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Page, AZ to Jacob Lake, AZ

Internet and phone service is available again! Here is the second journal that I have written for the group journal page. Full blog posts are still hard to do, so don't forget to check out my twitter page for mini-posts that are posted whenever I have phone service.
The morning started out once again at 4:30am as we woke up in the town of Page, AZ. This was our last host site before three full days of camping, and it seemed as though we were moving just a little bit slower that morning in order to savor having a roof over our heads. As part of the breakfast crew chore group for that week (yea, Flock of Seagulls!), I helped prepare the 60(!) eggs that St. David’s Episcopal Church had provided for us to go along with all the delicious dinner leftovers that we would be having with our standard breakfast foods of cereal and oatmeal.

After breakfast and the host had been cleaned up, I headed out for the day with Rebecca Bainbridge. The elevation began at 4300 feet, and we began our slow climb towards the first mountain of the day, which peaked at 5800 feet. Along the way, we met up with Laurel, Ashley, and Emily B. Halfway to the mountain, we saw the van approaching behind us. As it passed, Nate honked at us as the van driver usually does, but then to our surprise, Kerri poked her head out the passenger side door. “Ice cream!” she yelled, while waving two ice cream bars out the window. As the van pulled over, I felt like a little kid chasing an ice cream truck, except we were adult bicyclists screaming after a 16-person van with trailer. We had a lot of ice cream bars left over from dinner, and they were very well served as a mid-morning snack. Adam was so excited with his sundae cone that he powered up the next hill holding it triumphantly in the air like an Olympic torch.

Ice cream break over, we started to slowly, slowly, slowly climb the mountain. There was a brief pause as we reached the top where the road seems to disappear over the edge, and then we crested it and let gravity take over. All of sudden, the valley was visible beneath us, and it was breath-taking as it seemed to stretch out endlessly into the distance. We zipped down that road and almost flew to first lunch, descending at over 30mph. Unfortunately for me, my cheap little bike computer has difficulties reading speeds over 26-30mph, at which point it gives up and reads “0mph”, so I never know quite what my max speed is, only that it is more than 30mph.

After lunch, we rode along Marble Canyon and the Vermilion Cliffs, enjoying the sights but also being fully aware of the fact that the road could be as much as 30 miles shorter had it cut straight through the canyon instead of the taking the scenic route alongside it. We certainly didn’t mind it that much since it was a scenic route, but it did remind us of the sort of things people take for granted in a car: taking winding roads with ease, motoring up hills, and being unfazed by intense wind.

The above is also a fairly accurate summary of that afternoon: blistering headwinds and crosswinds, no shoulder, and a very long, slow climb out of the valley. Becca and I averaged about 5 miles per hour for a long time and got super excited whenever we would briefly reach 7 or 8 miles per hour. When we finally climbed over another hill and saw the trailer about two miles away, it felt like it was both really close and really far at the same time, since we could see it, but it still took almost half an hour to get there. Stopping for second lunch was a welcome and much needed break.

As we were about the leave, Becca discovered that she had a flat, so Konrad and Max stayed with us as we changed the flat while Ashley, Laurel, and Emily went on. Just as they started to leave, the wind picked up even more, and we watched as a dust storm began to gather in the distance. Konrad tied a handkerchief around his face, and we all turned away from the wind as the sand hit the backs of our legs at ridiculous speeds. Even just standing there, the sand stung as it hit us, and we hoped that the riders who were riding through it would be okay. “Eventful day” would be an understatement.

Dust storm passed, tire changed, we set out to climb one last mountain before we reached our campsite at Jacob Lake. This mountain lasted for several miles, but by then, the wind had died down, so it was actually easier to climb the steeper hills than it was plowing through the headwind earlier. When we reached camp, we did what was most important first, which was getting milkshakes at the Jacob Lake Inn, of course! While there, some people saw our trailer and asked what we were doing. Upon hearing that we had come all the way from Florida and raised about $150,000 for affordable housing, they gave us a $100 donation! Thank you again to the Walkers and the Koons!

After milkshakes, it was time to eat dinner and go to bed. Showers were $2.50, so a number of people did not shower, since we would be smelly the next day anyway. Plus, it’s Bike and Build; we’re smelly all the time anyway, hehe.