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Fastest in the Nation

Eric O’Brien decides to go to school in Davis after seeing all of the bicycles on campus and three years later something great happens.

Submitted by:  Eric O’Brien, November 2006
This entry relates to Past
Category(ies) of this entry:  Coming to Davis, Bicycle, Unforgettable Experiences
Neighborhood:  UC Davis

I drove into Davis for the very first time in April of 2003. I had spent the previous day visiting with the English department at the University of Nevada, Reno, trying to decide between a number of Ph.D. programs.

I sat in on seminars, chatted with professors, wandered the campus, and squinted at the glare of Casino lights. When I went to sleep that night, I was pretty convinced that Reno was the best choice for me.
But when I got up the next morning to drive to Davis, half a foot of snow covered the ground. Chain warnings blared from the television and radio and travel advisories recommended that I stay right where I was. But the English Department in Davis had scheduled a series of events for their prospective graduate students and I didn’t want to miss it, so I decided to risk driving my rented Ford Escort over Donner Pass in a spring whiteout. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Miracle of miracles, the road crews stayed just ahead of me the entire trip. While the snow never abated, I drove on clear roads all the way over the pass---even if I couldn’t see even a hint of the Sierra through the swirling snow. I managed to make it all the way to the Sacramento Valley without putting on the chains.

By the time I crossed the causeway, I had rolled the windows down and begun to enjoy the fresh spring delta breezes wafting through my car. I got off the interstate on Richards Blvd. and took the railroad underpass to first street west toward campus. And that’s when I saw them—hundred and hundreds of bicycles. Everywhere. On the city logo, on banners hanging from lamp-posts, on bike paths and bike lanes. All thoughts of Reno disappeared, and I knew I was home. You see, even then I rode a bike, and now, three years later, I can tell people that my bike racing team won the 2006 national collegiate cycling championship when I was in graduate school.

I think I made the right decision. 

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