November 4, 2015
Bike travel can be cheap once you have a good bike, panniers, and camping gear. If you don’t, be ready to invest some cash in quality gear, provided you don’t want to spend your first tour fixing broken spokes, replacing flats, and making ibuprofen part of your regular diet.
For Jocelyn Munoz, a University of California, Santa Cruz student, five flat tires in one day didn’t snuff out her enthusiasm for her Santa Cruz-to-Los Angeles ride, but it did convince her she needed something more road-worthy than her vintage, ten-speed Schwinn. But as a cash-strapped college student, living on financial aid and what she made as a trip leader for UCSC’s recreation department, a new touring bike wasn’t in the cards.
In an effort to give young bike enthusiasts like Jocelyn more opportunities for leadership roles and to ease the leap from campus commuting to serious bike travel, a few Adventure Cycling members suggested starting a scholarship fund. Generous members and corporate sponsors stepped forward and in 2014, we welcomed applications for the first Young Adult Bike Travel Scholarship. Ten applications rolled in the first year. By 2015 it swelled to fifty-two applicants including Jocelyn’s.
“Adventure outings were unheard of throughout my childhood,” said Jocelyn. While her parents each worked two jobs, she took care of her brothers at home. There wasn’t time or money for camping trips or bike adventures.
A college backpacking trip through Big Sur ignited Jocelyn’s passion for outdoor adventure. To fan the flames, she changed her major to plant sciences and left her job at Macy’s to work for UCSC's recreation department. Now Jocelyn is making up for lost time by leading outdoor trips for the UC Santa Cruz’s outdoor recreation department and Youth in Wilderness.
“One of my greatest passions is working in outdoor education, and I hope to continue this work after college. It’s true that working in outdoor education won’t make you a millionaire, but it will give you a million dollar smile!”
“And my work with the Youth in Wilderness program is the most satisfying to me because I get to work with "at-risk" high school students who mirror the life I lived before college,” said Jocelyn.
What three words best describe your touring experience?
Adventure is real.
How would you describe the group you cycled with?
The group was really dynamic. Everyone was unique and had there own "story" or reason for being there. Since I arrived two days early, I spent time with Grace, Tom, Noreen, and Mike. I had great interactions with all of them! Noreen saved me from the rain the first night and I was SUPER grateful! We talked a lot about her touring adventures and Washington, since I might want to move there one day!
Grace was my "guardian" for the week. She ended up taking my gear and bike back home with her because she lives in San Francisco, and I live somewhat close in Santa Cruz. I met up with her again in June and I met her little dogs and her very nice mountain bikes!
I also spent some time with Nancy. She was a low key, really sweet lady! Everyone was just so special in there own way. It was a great group!
What is something you learned about yourself on the trip?
I'm not sure if I "learned" something new about myself, but it was reassuring to see I could travel on my own, which doesn't really sound like a big deal, but it's a good skill to have. As a recreation leader, I have to be able to think fast, especially when things don't go as planned. So things like the weather and unpredictable circumstances can really change the course of a trip. It's easier to handle those things when it’s just you on the trip, but caring for a group of ten students can be challenging.
Putting myself in new situations where I have to think on my feet isn't the most fun, but it is a really good skill.
Here's a story:
On my way to the airport, my phone stopped working and I had a feeling it was going to give out on me so I carried a backup phone. Then, at the Eugene airport I called Verizon and talked to them for about an hour and they were finally able to connect my other phone. Then, I took a shuttle to the bike shop where I was picking up my bike, while carrying a forty pound backpack. I studied for my midterm, scheduled for the day I would get back from the LTC. When my bike was ready, I hopped on and tried getting to the campsite but I was lost for an hour. Then, the guy from the bike shop showed me the way. I finally got there, unpacked, and went to the store for some groceries. On my way back, it started to rain so I picked up some trash bags because I didn't have a tent for the first night. I got back and when it was time for sleep, I found a place under a tree, less wet than all the other places. I put a few trash bags over my sleeping bag, then my rain jacket on top of my upper body, and knocked out. An hour later, Noreen woke me up and asked if I wanted to share a tent!
That day was pretty crazy!
And this trip helped me realize I want to put all of my energy into bike programs. I was hired as a recreation leader through my school to lead all kind of adventure outings, however, I really want to start a bike program through my school. Starting a program from scratch without any guidance is really hard and overwhelming. There are so many logistics to take care of and it isn't that much fun. On this trip I realized I wanted to put all of my energy into the bike program, even if I don't have time to lead all the other trips I usually get to go on. I have one more year in Santa Cruz, and I really want to make it happen!
What did you learn about group dynamics that surprised you?
In the role playing portion of LTC, group dynamics were extremely important. I've had practice with attending to a group's needs as a recreation leader, but in difficult scenarios, it's hard to maintain a calm exterior while addressing every single person's needs. When there is a difference within the group, it can be challenging to address all of those needs.
I specifically remember one scenario when some of the members in the group wanted to stick to the itinerary, another member wanted to explore that area of the trip more, and the other member wanted to get ahead. As the "leader" during the scenario, I allowed the member who wanted to get ahead to do as he wished, but not the one who wanted to explore and stay behind one more day. I just didn't even think about being fair because everyone in the group was getting rowdy and angry. It's hard to think about what the best thing to do is when there is a group of people disagreeing on what they want.
What new skills did you acquire that will help you carry out your community project?
Learning about how Adventure Cycling runs their trips and their motto gave me an idea on how to run my own bike trips. It gave me good ideas on what to talk about and include in my pre-trip packets, and also communicating with my group without being the leader. I wanted everyone to step up and become their own leader on the trip so they could benefit and grow and feel comfortable bike touring on their own. Also, because LTC is so informative, I felt like I knew what I was doing on the bike trip I led, whereas before LTC I didn't really know where or how to start with the bike program.
What surprised you about bicycle travel?
Bicycle travel is always more mentally exhausting than physically. Sure there are some hills — but mentally, it is grueling.
We’ll check in with Jocelyn early next year to find out how her bike travel program through UCSC’s recreation department is going. In the meantime, if you know someone aged 18 to 25 looking to get more involved in bike travel, check out our 2016 Young Adult Bike Travel Scholarship. We’re offering two different scholarship types this year, with two awards for each category. Submit your application starting November 2, 2015.
Want to support our Young Adult Bike Travel Program? Donate now!
Photo 1 | courtesy of Jocelyn Munoz
Photo 2 | Pete Strause
Photo 3 | Jocelyn Munoz
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