Ride of her life
The wind blew pellets of hail into Alexandera Houchin’s face as she rode uphill, her bike loaded with all the gear she needed for more than three nonstop weeks of riding. “It’s hard to keep going when the weather is bad and your body feels like it’s breaking down,” she says, “but what am I going to do—stop?”
Stopping was never an option for Houchin, a University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) senior who was the first woman to cross the finish line in both the 2018 and 2019 Tour Divide, a 2,745-mile mountain bike race that traverses the length of the Rocky Mountains from Canada to the Mexican border.
This year, she finished in a record-setting 18 days, 20 hours, and 26 minutes. Houchin, who started college when she was 26 and transferred to UMD, is double majoring in American Indian studies and chemistry. A member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and recipient of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Scholarship, she plans to apply to dental school and eventually serve her Ojibwe community as a dentist.
“I would never have been able to go to college without support from the tribes here in Minnesota,” she says. “For that, I feel like I owe something back. That’s what communities do. It’s the circle of giving and receiving.”