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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Lily Gouin
Lily Gouin
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Hi! My name is Lily Gouin I am in my third year here at NMU. I am from Appleton, WI majoring in communications and double minoring in multimedia journalism and public relations. In my free time, I like...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

NMU Senior bikes entire East Coast

By Mindy Grabko

Grace Harcz, a senior and graphic design major at NMU, arrived in Miami Beach, Fla. on July 18 not by car or plane, but by biking from Bar Harbor, Maine.

“Trying to describe the bike trip is like trying to describe Zen Buddhism. No words can explain it; it just has to be experienced,” Harcz said.

Biking her way home from Marquette to Flint she passed checkpoints like Mackinaw and challenged herself to physically make the trip between Maine and Florida that she had planned. She got camping experience, and said she started to attract the attention of the locals she pedaled past.

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Sporting a pink fluorescent T-shirt that read “Caution Wide Load,” Harcz began her 2,600 mile journey, during which, she said she had to be on the lookout for traffic situations and strangers.

“I had to be on the defense, constantly looking out my mirror for cars with one eye and broken glass with the other and always thinking what could go wrong and what I would do,” Harcz said.

Harcz said that some drivers are not vigilant of human lives on bicycles, and that she could not let her guard down.

“Around the second or third week my legs were pretty used to pedaling, but I was mentally exhausted,” Harcz said.

Harcz was biking through a dangerous part of Savannah, Ga. when the bolt on her front rack snapped, and she was thrown forward.

“I was sure I would see blood and bones,” Harcz said. “I saw my bike in the road, scattered water bottles, and a mint. That’s what I remember.”

Harcz said her elbow was very swollen, and her pack could not be carried on her bike. She used a paracord for her pack and zipties to reconnect her bike rack back to the fork.

Harcz said she had enjoyable experiences, too. She attended a block party and went to Geno’s for a Philly cheese steak in Philadelphia, Bojangles in North Carolina for a chicken biscuit and had steamers, a drink involving hot, flavored milk, in Maine.

Harcz said when she wanted to quit, the support of strangers kept her going.

“My luck didn’t run out, and I realized how good people can be,” Harcz said.

NMU student Chris Lenahen helped Harcz complete her journey in Florida.

“I was so happy when I heard Grace was traveling through my hometown that I just had to offer her a place to stay, even though I was still in Marquette,” Lenahen said.  “She sent me pictures of my neighborhood, and it really made me smile to see pictures from home and of her with my family.”

In preparation for her trip, Harcz said her previous education helped her to reach her destination.

NMU adjunct instructor Andrew Nelson’s recreation class taught her awareness skills and gave her tools like titanium pots and water purification.

“My part is minimal. Grace just got her fire stoked during my class. Once she was equipped with the skills, she could apply them to any out-of-comfort zone,” Nelson said. “Grace is a learner and a sponge. She knows what she wants to do and absorbs all the information necessary and does it.”

Harcz also said that NMU’s Rape Aggression Defense class taught by safety and policing specialist Don Peterman gave her a sense of protection, since she biked mostly alone.

Technology aided Harcz on her route. The “Latitude” application on her iPhone helped her family members see her exact location, and she used her GPS.

Harcz said her journey has inspired her to write a book, and to start a program at NMU to designate a location where students could bike and hike.

She would also like to bike the West Coast in the future.

Harcz’s blog, cautionwideload-bikeride.blogspot.com, provides more details about her trip and the people she met.

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