The best things about Mount Holyoke?

Here’s a comprehensive list:

  • everything.

Just kidding! Only not really. When I applied to Mount Holyoke in the fall of 2010, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

To quote Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, “I shall cherish my visit here in memory for as long as I live.”

25 of the Best Things about Mount Holyoke:

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Laurel Fellowships.

The Laurel Fellowship program is the reason that I got to study abroad! I can never thank Mount Holyoke enough for giving my the opportunity to study classics in Rome. Basically, if you receive financial aid from Mount Holyoke, the school will also give you assistance to fund a study abroad program.

It’s like Moho buys you a gift card to another store, but I couldn’t be more thankful for the program! It’s one of the best things about Mount Holyoke and reasons I chose to attend in the first place.

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Mountain Day.

One day between convocation and the start of fall break, the Mount Holyoke President wakes up and declares Mountain Day! All on campus classes and commitments before 5:00PM are canceled and students can either sleep in, or make the trek to nearby Skinner Mountain to climb to the top for free ice cream and hats.

5 College Consortium.

I never took a class off campus because I’m a firm believer in keeping your nap to class travel ratio firmly under seven minutes, but many of my friends took advantage of Mount Holyoke’s partnership with nearby Smith College, Hampshire College, Amherst College, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Moho’s can not only take classes at these other schools, but also participate in extracurricular activities.

Elfing.

You’re a wee firstie at Mount Holyoke. You wake up, open your door to the bathroom, only to be trapped in your room by a sheet a wrapping paper covering your doorway. You break through it, only to find the hallway in front of your room to be filled with candy, perfumes, magazines, and more!

That’s Elfing. A sophomore student goes out of their way to be a “secret sibling” to a first year for a week, then they link up and become besties at the end of it.

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The Awesome Alum Community

Did you know that Mount Holyoke affected your life moments after you were born? It’s like all of us were destined to go here. That’s because Doctor Virginia Apgar (MHC class of 1929 represent) designed the widely-used Apgar score to determine the health of a newborn baby.

Can you credit Cinderella from The Cheetah Girls with your elementary school feminist awakening? Then shout out to Debra Martin Chase, MHC Class of 1977.

Are you looking forward to collecting you well-earned Social Security? Pour one out for Frances Perkins, the woman behind the New Deal.

The Frances Perkins Program.

From the Mount Holyoke Website (citation cause MHC made sure I knew that PLAGIARISM AIN’T NO JOKE):

The Frances Perkins Program is open to and designed for women 25 years and older who have experienced an interruption in their education, but who now seek the intellectual challenge of completing their 4-year degree at a top liberal arts institution. Veterans, active military,  and women who are under 25 with dependents are also eligible to apply.

Known affectionately on campus as “FPs,” these students were always great to be in class with because of their unique perspectives on academics and life in general.

Dressing up for Convocation.

I missed my first convocation because I was a spring admit, but the next year I went as Pikachu, then as a bottle of mustard for my junior and senior years…although my senior year I went as a bottle of mustard in a cap and gown, thank you very much.

When you matriculate at Mount Holyoke, you are assigned a class color and mascot based on your year of graduation. I was lucky enough to be a golden sphinx.

You could also be a red pegasus, blue lion, green griffon, or purple phoenix if you are a FP student. But honestly, red, green, purple, or blue, it would sphinx to be you.

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Lynk Funding.

Students can apply for Lynk Funding to finance an unpaid summer internship.

School breaks were all about earning money for school, not planning my career and gaining value experience in my field. I never thought I would never be able to live the intern life, until Mount Holyoke stepped in. Because of the Lynk, I was actually able to intern for a travel company and learn the ropes of digital marketing, search engine optimization, and destination-based content curation.

I would quite literally have NO career if it weren’t for the head start I got from the Lynk.

The Food.

One of the best things about Mount Holyoke is the food. I recently went back to campus to sample the food from “Superblanch” and let me tell y’all, it did not disappoint. The only thing I’m bitter about is now students have unlimited access to food, when countless times during my undergraduate career I ate dinner at 6:00PM, was starving by 11:00PM, yet was totally out of Dining Dollars.

This isn’t a problem any future Mount Holyoke students will ever have to face.

The Yellow Flashing Lights.

…have been activated. Cars may not stop.

The anthem of any Mount Holyoke student trying to get anywhere. I heard the pedestrian warning system on 116 so many times that I sometimes hear it in my sleep…thousands of miles away in Texas.

The Professors.

During my 1st semester at Mount Holyoke, I dyed my brown hair red on a Friday night. On Monday, all three of the professors I had that day greeted me by name and mentioned that they liked my new hairstyle.

When people ask me how much MHC professors care about you, this is the best example I can give. My own father doesn’t even notice when I change my hair.

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The Leaves in the Fall.

I’m from Houston where our four seasons are summer, hotter summer, even hotter summer, and did you really think it was ever going to get cold summer?

So when moving to New England, experiencing the the fall foliage was mind boggling and one of the best things about Mount Holyoke. I honestly didn’t think trees could even change color so profoundly. Thought it was just movie magic.

The Student Orgs.

I participated in MHC Project Theatre each semester I was on campus. It’s how I made the majority of my friends. Being in a theater group at a historically women’s college also has its perks. For example, I got to play Oscar in The Odd Couple and juror six in 12 Angry Men.

The Horsies.

There’s a stable full of them. If you don’t want to pay extra to take a riding class, you can still go up to the barn and say hello and give pats with owner permission, etc. etc.

Its Location.

Since no one in Texas knows about Moho, my number one joke is that Mount Holyoke lures prospective students onto campus with promises of proximity to Boston and NYC, but instead just drops them off somewhere in a forrest in Western Mass. And while that’s partly true, coming from Texas, Mount Holyoke’s campus is a lot closer to cool stuff than I’d ever been before.

I went to NYC every.single.semester. as there’s a bus stop in front of the school that runs directly to Port Authority. I went to Boston multiple times. I went to Philadelphia for Fall Break. If you’d like to see the East Coast, Mount Holyoke is a perfect base.

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No Study Zone.

On the last day of classes during the fall semester, Chapin Auditorium turns into a no study zone! There’s usually a bounce house or two, a Zumba class, snacks like popcorn and snow cones, and even an arts and crafts station (a great place to make gifts for the upcoming holidays on a college student’s budget). One year, the organizers even turned the elevator into a “Primal Scream” zone. You go just go inside and scream really loud. It was great.

The Library.

Hogwarts called, it wants its library back!

One of the best things about Mount Holyoke is the magnificent study space. Many times, while I was supposed to be working on a paper, I would simply lie back and stare at the ceiling, dumbstruck that I was lucky enough to go to a school as pretty as this.

The Classes.

I took a class on World Politics where I heard the word “hegemon” so many times I thought my brain would explode. I took a creative writing class. A class dedicated solely to the works of Alfred Hitchcock. A mediaeval literature class that comes in handy nearly every single time I watch Jeopardy. I studied Latin and Italian, so I’m concurrently fluent in neither and both.

My first year seminar was on Sherlock Holmes and detective fiction. About two weeks into classes, on a dreary, snowy Monday, my professor ordered us pizzas and let us watch BBC’s Sherlock in lieu of a discussion.

“So this is college,” I thought. “I can get used to this.”

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Off Campus Work Study.

Mount Holyoke’s work study program offered me the opportunity to intern at nearby Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke. I learned about non-profit work, museum curation, arts education, and more!

The school provided transportation to and from my job each week, and the other students who rode with me worked at local high schools and homework help organizations. We were all able to really put down roots in the community. It’s one of the best things about Mount Holyoke.

The Staff.

One of the best things about Mount Holyoke was the people who worked on campus. The staff was constantly going out of their way to be kind. The man who drove the work study van, John, was a WWII Navy veteran with many stories to tell. He kept the car fun and on our toes.

I was always dropped off 1st on the route and one day, he mentioned his favorite pastry, a bear claw. I said I’d never had one.

The next week, he didn’t drop me off 1st. As we went from drop off to drop off, I began to wonder if he had forgotten I was in the car. Then, as we pulled up to the museum, he reached into his briefcase and pulled out a bear claw.

“I bought you one! It’s a shame you’ve never had one before. I dropped you off last because I wanted you to be able to eat the entire thing.”

The bear claw was delicious and I’ll never forget John’s thoughtfulness that day.

Jorge.

I love and miss this noisy, vicious little beast. Whether or not he’s the original Jorge, or even if he’s a he is still up for debate, but that doesn’t take away from campus’ resident goose being one of the best things about Mount Holyoke.

Your Classmates.

Truly, one of the very best things about Mount Holyoke is the people who study there. People who challenged me academically, spiritually, and morally. People who supported me and encouraged my growth in the exact same ways.

Friends who let me cry on their floor when my childhood dog died, when I did poorly on an assignment, or when I was just plain tired. Friends introduced me to weird Italian cinema, challenged my worldview with kindness, and called me every year on my summer birthday. Friends who flew across countries to see me. Friends who really, truly, deeply, love me.

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The Art Museum.

I love the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum! The collection is top notch and lovingly curated by a team of committed experts who not only make art accessible, but also fun.

I spend hours in the museum during my years as an undergraduate, as an excited visitor, student guide, and guest lecturer. Make sure to stop in when you’re on campus.

The Pumpkin Face in the Clock Tower during October.

The spooky face is one of the best things about Mount Holyoke just because it’s so cheeky. I didn’t even notice it until I was a junior. I was walking into the library one night and there he was…just chilling like “what’s up?”

The Dorms.

I’ve never felt more like a princess than when I lived in Mead Dormitory my senior year. The high ceilings. The Downton Abby staircase in the front foyer. While there are some definite dudes *coughcoughProspectcoughcough** in general, the living situation at Mount Holyoke is leaps above other school’s.

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Looking for things to do in Western Mass?

I spent four years in the Pioneer Valley as an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke College and consider the area to be my second home. I became an adult in Massachusetts and sneak back every chance I get, as half of my heart (and most of my friends) still live there.

Things To Do in Western Mass eric carle

Eric Carle Museum, October 2012.

Top 10 Budget-Friendly Things To Do in Western Mass

These were my favorite things to do in area when I was an undergraduate. I hope you have as much fun as I did!

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Emily Dickinson Museum

280 Main St, Amherst, MA 01002

Things To Do in Western Mass emily dickinson

Mural of Emily near the museum, October 2012.

The Emily Dickinson Museum is one of the main draws in the area and one of the most interesting things to do in Western Mass. Before visiting, I’d only heard snippets of Emily’s history while memorizing her poems in elementary school. Wasn’t she a reclusive spinster who wore a wedding dress for most of her life?

Absolutely not.

As it’s based in her former home, the museum does an excellent job of humanizing Emily’s eccentric story. You leave feeling like you knew her, often with her poems etched on your heart.

Mount Holyoke College Tour

50 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075

Things to do in Western Mass Mount Holyoke

Back where I belong, February 2018.

I’ve only included this on the list because I’m an alumna and Mount Holyoke is the best thing that has ever happened to me. If you are looking for things to do in Western Mass, it’s likely you’re in the area for a college tour, so be sure not to miss the best of the bunch.

Emily Dickinson even attended for 10 months, so we can definitly claim her.

Wondering about other inspiring alums? Prepare to be amazed.

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Eric Carle Museum

125 W Bay Rd, Amherst, MA 01002

Things To Do in Western Mass eric carle

Eric Carle Museum, February 2018.

While time travel is still technically impossible, you can get pretty darn close to reliving your childhood with a visit to the Eric Carle Museum. My sister and I first visited while I was an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke in 2012. We started our tour in the museum’s screening room to watch Knuffle Bunny, an animated version of the children’s book by Mo Willems.

It’s about a girl named Trixie who travels to the Netherlands to visit her Grandparents and forgets her beloved bunny on the plane. Trixie learns important lessons about loss and maturity through her distress and my sister and I, thinking about our childhood lovies, sobbed.

Things To Do in Western Mass eric carle

My sister working on her masterpiece, October 2012. Peep mine as well. It’s still on the fridge.

The museum also has a craft studio you could spend hours in, a library brimming with the best in children’s literature, and galleries that are equal parts nostalgic and inspirational. I make it a point to visit each time I’m in the area.

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Yankee Candle Village

25 Greenfield Road South Deerfield, MA 01373

Things to do in Western Mass Yankee Candle

Big on puns. September 2014.

There are two bad things about Yankee Candle Village:

  • It smells like a bakery, flower shop, and your grandmother’s house all at once.
  • It’s much like a Target in that you go in for one thing and come out two hours later $50,000 in debt.

However, there are two good things about Yankee Candle Village:

  • It smells like a bakery, flower shop, and your grandmother’s house all at once.
  • It’s much like a Target in that you go in for one thing and come out two hours later $50,000 in debt.
Things to do in Western Mass Yankee Candle

Doin’ a line, February 2018.

My favorite part (besides smelling the candles and getting to write a letter to Santa) is the life-size Bavarian Village, where it’s Christmas all year round. Be sure to stick around for the snowfall!

Brunch in Northampton

Brunch in Northampton is one of the best things to do in Western Mass. When people say, “This is the future that Liberals want,” I honestly think they’re talking about the pancakes…

The best brunch spots in Northampton, Massachusetts are as follows:

  • Everywhere.

There you go. That’s my comprehensive list. Just go to Northampton for a meal and you’re all set with any choice.

But, if I had to choose, I would sent you for

Waffles at Sylvester’s 

111 Pleasant Street, Northampton, MA 01060

7AM – 3PM, 7 days a week.

Things to do in Western Mass

In the morning, I’m making waffles, February 2018.

or maybe for some

Scrambles at the Green Bean

241 Main Street, Northampton, MA 01060

7AM – 3PM, 7 days a week.

and finally a short drive to Hadley for

Salad at Esselon

99 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035

Hours vary.

Things to do in Western Mass

Lunch with friends, May 2017.

Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory

281 Greenfield Rd, South Deerfield, MA 01373

Things to do in Western Mass magic wings

Taking it all in, February 2018.

Magic Wings is what I imagine heaven to be like. And also the uncanny valley. As soon as you walk in, you’re surrounded by movement, even in your peripherals. But because the constant fluttering comes from butterflies, and not bats, bugs, or other beasts, it’s okay.

It’s probably the most peaceful place I’ve been and definite childhood fantasy fulfillment. The only downside was, despite wearing a bright orange shirt and floral perfume, none of the butterflies wanted anything to do with me.

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Skinner State Park

10 Skinner State Park Rd, Hadley, MA 01035

Things To Do in Western Mass Mount Tom

Mountain Day, October 2012.

Mount Holyoke has this amazing tradition called Mountain Day. During the fall semester, sometime between Convocation and the start of October Break, our president wakes up early and declares Mountain Day with 100 chimes of the bell in the clock tower.

Classes and commitments before 5:00PM are cancelled and students are encouraged to climb the mountain in nearby Skinner State Park, where our President is waiting at the summit with ice cream and special Mountain Day hats.

Things To Do in Western Mass Mount Tom

A casual photoshoot at Skinner State Park, May 2017.

Part of the fun of Mountain Day is almost dying on the steep hike to the summit, but if you are simply visiting the area, feel free to drive up to the top. There’s a parking lot and unmatched views of the entire Pioneer Valley.

Wistariahurst Museum

238 Cabot St, Holyoke, MA 01040

Things To Do in Western Mass Wistariahurst

My dad and sister cheesin’ in Wisty’s Music Room, May 2015.

Full disclosure: I interned at Wisty throughout my collegiate career. But really, this only means you should take my recommendation to visit even more seriously!

The museum is the former home of the Skinner Family, led by William Skinner (and later by his daughter, Belle), who made thier fortune in silk manufacturing, and is the embodiment of the area. It’s one of the best things to do in Western Mass because the beautiful home not only weaves the silken story of a family, but of a city. Of entrepreneurship and loss. Of new beginnings and old traditions. Of hope.

Wisty offers both historical tours of the building, as well as cultural events like lectures, concerts, and galas throughout the year.

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Basketball Hall of Fame

1000 Hall of Fame Ave, Springfield, MA 01105

Things to do in Western Mass

The joke here is that I hate basketball, so I never went inside; however, my friends like to tease me because one night, while riding with them on the Interstate 91 (totally sober!) I noticed a glowing orange orb through the clouds.

“Wow, the moon is so bright tonight! It’s so low! Y’all, look!”

Turns out, I made my friend slow down so that we could get a good look at the giant basketball that marks the entrance to the parking lot.

If you like sports, it’s a can’t miss (or so I hear).

Mass MoCa

1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247

things to do in western mass mass moca

If you’re looking for something a little weird, a little cool, and fully awesome, then you should head to Mass MoCa, or the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. The collection is breath-taking and is a real contender against the MFA in Boston.

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Bonus: Seasonal Leaf Peeping in Western Mass

Things To Do in Western Mass Mount Holyoke

The Mount Holyoke Campus, Fall 2014. I didn’t edit this at all.

If you’re looking for things to do in Western Mass in the fall, the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires have some of the best leaf-peeping spots in New England!

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Things to do in Western Mass

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The 4K for Cancer is as intense as it sounds: 4,000 miles, coast to coast, to raise money for a cure.

Riley (from theBikeDyke) and I met our first year at Mount Holyoke College through Project: Theatre, a student-run organization. We were in multiple plays together during our time there, but my favorite memory of her is from our rehearsals for 12 Angry Men. 

We were supposed to be building character rapport by looking into each other’s eyes without talking — but we couldn’t do it without laughing. I think we derailed the whole rehearsal.

Mount Holyoke College Class of 2015 4k for cancer

Riley also has the travel bug and has biked across America twice on a 4K for Cancer with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

I’ve always been so impressed by this (repeat!) feat, so I had to talk to her about it.

Here’s the deets on the 4K for Cancer:

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What made you decide to ride your bike from coast to coast?

There were a number of reasons I wanted to bicycle across the country with the 4k for cancer The first was just plain old desire for an adventure, which bicycling from Baltimore to Seattle (and then Baltimore to San Francisco) inevitably would be.

I spent the summer before my ride living in a cabin in beautiful Acadia National Park, teaching outdoor education to children, and I wanted to spend another summer primarily outdoors.

4k for Cancer Mount Rushmore

The previous year, my childhood best friend’s father had passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer, and I was looking for the most fitting way to honor his life. He loved being out in nature, and I think he would have loved the idea of bicycling 4,500 miles in one summer so I did the 4K for Cancer.

 The second bike trip was because I had caught the travel by bike bug and needed to do another trip or risk someday selling all my possessions and bicycling from city to city. I’m not sure it was the perfect remedy, as I wish I was on a bicycling trip right now.

How do you train for a cross-country bike ride like the 4K for Cancer?

4k for cancer thebikedyke riley smith

Ideally, you’d train with bike shoes and clip-in pedals so you can get accustomed to clipping in and out (and clipping out BEFORE you hit the brakes). You’d do a few 50-60 mile rides to prepare you for the days on the 4k for cancer that we bicycle up to 115+ miles.

You’d get used to drinking water while on the bicycle, become comfortable cruising 40+ miles an hour downhill, and try your hand at not fishtailing on messy gravel roads. I didn’t do any of that. I rode ~8 miles on two flat tires and bought my clips the day before I took off.

How many hours / miles did you cover on a typical day?

4k for cancer thebikedyke riley smith

It definitely varied day to day. On average, we would cover around 60-70 miles, but could go as high as 120. Somedays, we’d get lucky and only have to cover 30-40 miles. The amount of time really depended on weather, terrain, and luck. One of those 35 miles day was up the steepest mountain I’ve ever bicycled up.

That took a lot longer than going 80 miles through flat Nebraska with no headwind. Typically, we’d wake up at 5 or 6 and try to be on the road by 8 to maximize on daylight. We’d bike until it started to get dark, but we never bicycled when it was actually dark out.

How many states did you get to explore on the 4K for Cancer?

4k for cancer thebikedyke riley smith

On my last trip, I believe I went through around 13 states. Some states, you just pass through and others, it feels like you spend lifetimes in. There was a day where we bicycled through four states in total!

On my previous trip, I believe I hit 15 states. It’s a great way to really get to know a place.

What was your favorite state to ride through? Why?

There were so many states on the 4k for cancer that I fell in love with!

On my first trip, I was obsessed with Minnesota and Montana. Minnesota has such a friendly atmosphere, it’s just like how people describe, and lots of great coffee. Montana is the most beautiful state I’ve biked through. Bicycling to the top of the Sun Road in Glacier National Park is still one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had.

4k for cancer thebikedyke riley smith

On my last trip, I loved bicycling through Colorado, even though the terrain wasn’t the easiest and the weather wasn’t the nicest. There are so many bicyclists in Colorado, it felt like we were at home. One of my teammates from my first bicycling trip lived in Boulder at the time, so seeing him during my second trip was a really comforting and encouraging thing.

Was there a particular state or area that was difficult to bike through?

4k for cancer thebikedyke riley smith

I think all states have pluses and negatives, but hands down, Tennessee and Missouri were the hardest states to bicycle through. I’ve never had someone point a shotgun at my head while I was bicycling, and now I’ve had it happen twice!

Let’s just say that a lot of people in those states are not fan of bicyclists, even though we were literally biking in a straight line on public roads. They seemed to really value their solitude in those places.

Can you tell us about a time when you felt overwhelmed or exhausted? What made you keep going?

4k for cancer thebikedyke riley smith

Sure! I would say that every single day I was exhausted and at one point or another (even though overall it was a blast!), but one day where I was really having a difficult time was bicycling up Trail Ridge Road, which is the highest paved road in the U.S. We had “climbing buddies” because the ride was so steep, which just means a teammate who sticks with you and makes sure you’re doing ok.

My climbing buddy had broken her thumb really badly the night before and was in a crazy amount of pain going up the mountain. We started to get really dizzy because of the giant altitude shift. I’m severely asthmatic, so I had to keep meeting up with the van and plugging in my nebulizer so I didn’t have a giant asthma attack. Then, a huge thunderstorm hit and we had no shelter to hide from it.

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4k for cancer thebikedyke riley smith

4k for cancer thebikedyke riley smith

My number one fear is lightning, so I was petrified, but also really frustrated that we couldn’t finish the climb, because it was such a notoriously difficult ride and I really wanted to finish it. In that moment, my teammates and the people we met along the way battling cancer or who had lost loved ones to cancer kept me going on this 4k for Cancer.

My team immediately sprang into action and began loading bicycles on top of the van and cramming 20+ people and all of our gear into a 15 passenger van. Some of my other teammates had hitched a ride with a park ranger, and I was impressed that they had beaten us up the mountain.

The view from the top of Trail Ridge Road was incredible – it looked like we were in a fairytale of some sort. It just didn’t seem real. It was a nice reminder that I was safe, I was surrounded by my teammates who were family. Everything was going to be ok.

4k for cancer thebikedyke riley smith

Was there ever a moment on the 4k for Cancer course when you felt totally at peace?

There were so many moments that felt like I was totally at peace.

One day, it was down-pouring and freezing and my climbing buddy Krista and I were for some reason totally in sync. The ride was really hard and a lot of my other teammates were having a difficult time, but for some reason, Krista and I were almost in a meditative state!

The road we were on was super dangerous, and Krista’s back tire kept flinging mud up in my face. I ended up looking like I was covered in a million freckles, but they were all made from mud.

4k for cancer thebikedyke riley smith

Near the end of the day, we reached the peak of the mountain and just coasted crazy fast down. It was one of those really rewarding days where you have steadily climbed for hours and you get to reap the full benefit by having this amazing downhill. At the bottom, we were absolutely freezing, but so happy.

We took these photos on my phone of us just being so happy with how the ride went. We must have looked absolutely bonkers.

What kinds of places do you sleep on these rides?

4k for cancer thebikedyke riley smith

We would sleep on the floors of churches, schools, YMCA’s, etc. I was one of the people on my team who coordinated housing ahead of time, which meant contacting previous hosts and asking if they’d be willing to let us crash again or cold-calling all of the potential hosts in a random town in the middle of America.

Sometimes, we’d get really lucky and a church or organization would coordinate homestays for us! That was like Disneyland, because we’d get a hot meal and a hot shower and maybe even a bed and a chance to do laundry. The strangest places I slept on the 4k for Cancer were a firehouse (in the garage, next to the firetruck!), the Utah Jazz basketball stadium, and the barn of a rodeo.

How does a “bike road trip” differ from that in car?

It’s so different! When you’re in a vehicle, you don’t have to constantly be looking out for every piece of glass or vent in the road, you don’t have to expend an incredible amount of energy on big mountains, and you aren’t completely exposed to the elements.

But, you have a much easier time stopping and talking to locals, going into shops and businesses, meeting other folks on the road, and you have a deeper understanding of the places you bicycled through, because you saw them at 15 miles per hour from sunup to sundown.

4k for cancer thebikedyke riley smith

Even though it can be exhausting, you might be battling heat stroke or freezing because your clothing is soaked, or you might be caught in a headwind that makes you feel like you’re moving through molasses, I strongly prefer the latter. After bicycling 9,000+ miles, my executive opinion is that it makes for better adventures.

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What advice would you give someone going on a 4k for Cancer or similar trip?

4k for cancer thebikedyke riley smith

4k for cancer thebikedyke riley smith

Do it! Seriously, do it. Even if you think that you can’t physically do it, even if you are scared or anxious, do it. Your body will adjust to the miles, and you will become so accustomed to life on the road that you’ll be comfortable sleeping just about anywhere and wonder why you ever had more than three outfits to begin with.

Even better, you’ll make true lifelong friends, because they will literally have been in the trenches with you. You’ll have a deeper understanding of who you are as a person and just how dang resilient you are. And you’ll have memories that will make you so glad to be alive.

You can find Riley on Instagram and Youtube. 

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