Thursday, November 14, 2013

Baldy Bombing

Robert Little- San Francisco, CA

In high school, I regularly hit 60 or 65 MPH while driving to school.  Sometimes I’d sing in the car, other times Ira Glass would capture my half conscious mind.  The ride normally took fifteen or twenty minutes, and I’d arrive at school no more excited than when I left.  This past Wednesday morning, however, my commute to Pitzer took a good 20 minutes, and I only hit about 45MPH.  Despite my slower commute, I arrived at school wild-eyed, full of adrenaline, and itching to repeat the commute all over again.  No, I don’t get excited about going to school at a slower pace - instead, my elation was due to an exciting Baldy Bomb that morning.

Mount Baldy is Pitzer’s closest wooded and hilly paradise.  It’s home to enchanting views of the Inland Empire, challenging hikes, and a host of fun winter sports.  Pitzer students have a host of oddly entertaining activities with Baldy, including our Cactus to Clouds Bikini Hike (you guessed it, a walk from Pitzer to the summit in swim gear!) the Ski and Surf day (not many places you can do that!), and my personal favorite - the Baldy Bomb.  
A Green Bike Program (GBP) and Pitzer Outdoor Adventure (POA) co-coordinated trip,  the Baldy Bomb trip first begins with a shuttling of students, bikes, sleeping bags, helmets, and excitement to the summit of Mt. Baldy.  After class and homework, students camp out under the stars, telling stories, meeting new friends, and, for the adventurous folks, taking a dip in the ice-melt stream next to the camp site.  At dawn, the sun peeks over the Eastern ridge, just in time for students to pack up their gear, saddle up, and rally for the most exciting pre-breakfast bike ride they’ve ever had. 

With helmets equipped, brakes checked, and classes that start at 8 AM,  students hop on their bikes and begin the thirteen or so mille race to Pitzer.  Although we spent the previous evening all huddled up next to each other on the face of a mountain, the Baldy Bomb is very much an individualistic experience - everyone dives down the mountain at their own pace, screaming and howling as they shoot through the tunnels.  Previously, the fastest biker rode a tandem bike, the extra body mass propelling them at speeds over 50 MPH!  

As I rode down the windy road, the sun steadily crept over the hillside, creating a golden bank to stick to cling to on my right, and a deep misty ravine on the left.  With both hands on the brakes, eyes fighting to take in the changing landscape and also look out for cars, Baldy-Bombing is a truly blissful experience - I can tell you with a full heart that it sure makes 8 AM class a lot more bearable.  

Wednesday morning’s exhilarating ride serves as a small glimpse into Pitzer’s wild culture - one that embraces the great outdoors, sustainability,  adventure, and a hair of insanity.  It can be spotted in the thoughtful FemCo discussions, experienced in the ResLife program, and heard Friday afternoons on the mounds.  People often ask what a “typical” Pitzer student is, and what has become all too clear in the past few years, is that  the “typical” student is atypical - and they embrace it.

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