Michael Muench and Nicole Knight are two seemingly average college students who decided to do something that is a little out of the norm. A trip that started on a whim turned into a trip that proved the duo’s environmental, economical, and health consciousness.
Muench, 21, and Knight, 22, are a Miami-based couple who attend Florida International University. On June 24, the pair set out on a 17-day bike excursion that took them from Miami to Knight’s hometown of Washington D.C. They set aside only three days for rest, stopping in St. Augustine, Fla., New Smyrna Beach, Fla., and Charleston, S.C. This is not the first time that the couple went on an adventure together; they went backpacking in Central America and they also participated in an intense marathon.
While Muench and Knight bike the 40 mile round trip to their university, they certainly did not plan on this voyage. Muench said that the trip was “just an idea” and that they simply “decided to wing it.” Muench and Knight did prepare, however, they brought a change of clothes, Camelbacks, money, a compass, and police-grade pepper spray. The one thing that was not on their to-do list was a phone call to Knight’s mom to tell her about their plans. Knight explains that, “my mother worries a lot and when we initially brought up the idea of this trip, she was adamantly against it. Even when we surprised her by showing up yesterday (July 8), she was worried after the fact.”
Luckily, the pepper spray was not needed. They met people from all over who were very supportive about their journey. After encountering a terrific thunderstorm, office workers at an elementary school in Darien, Ga., allowed Knight and Muench to wait in the building until the storm died out. A cashier in Virginia gave the couple a watermelon free of charge when informed that they couldn’t afford to pay for it. While biking through Conway, S.C., Muench and Knight spotted a couple wearing clothing with Florida labels on them; Muench and Knight, excited to find fellow Floridians, went over to talk to them. The couples bonded over their love for the sunshine state and the couple even asked Muench and Knight to come stay at their house for a few days. Muench was shocked at how friendly people were, “Most of the people supported us…I can’t believe it.”
Even though Muench and Knight encountered many friendly people along their journey, they still faced their share of mishaps. One night, the pair slept in a model shed behind an ACE Hardware store. Considering this act was illegal, the couple had to face a constant fear that they may get caught. Muench said with a laugh that he “didn’t go to sleep that night.” Another comic escapade of the couple’s would have belonged in any Adam Sandler movie; they set up a tent in a park one night, and while they were soundly sleeping, the sprinklers came on. They also accidently rode on a busy highway, Interstate-95, for a good 10 miles.
Biking an average of 8 to 85 miles a day is bound to have an effect on the body. Knight and Muench estimate that they lost 6 and 7 pounds, respectively. The heat was often brutal but the most important thing was to stay hydrated at all times. Another issue of vital importance that Muench emphasized was to be “super-conscious about what you eat.” The duo did just that, eating Cliff Bars, Subway sandwiches, and stopping at local food stands.
The couple also did their part for the environment while on their trip. Not only did they not use a drop of gas, but they did not stop at any BP owned station in order to protest the disaster in the Gulf. “If there was a town that had only a BP station, we just rode right past it,” Knight said.
Knight and Muench are young people who care about the environment, the people around them, and their bodies. Muench said “young bodies can do anything if you just push your limit.”. When asked about their next trip, Muench quickly blurted: “Maine would be cool.” Knight smiled and shook her head and said, “If there is a next time.” Even if their next excursion is not a bike trip, Muench and Knight are definitely headed for more physical adventures.