Mikaella Rough: Exploration Geologist & The Woman Behind Elko’s Green Bike Racks

Soon, we will be hearing from a woman named Mikaella. She works for Barrick Mining and, as you’ll soon read, is a globe-trotter and avid bike rider. If her name still doesn’t ring a bell, even after that brief description, it’s because Mikaella has only lived in the Elko area for about fifteen months (at the time of this feature’s publication). So, why was I (Anthony Crosby) so excited to write and share an article on her? Well, I believe Mikaella has a very inspiring attitude when it comes to having desires for our city. Mikaella arrived in Elko and noticed something essential was lacking here, something needed to cultivate an area of life that matters to her (living in a town with a healthy bike culture). However, instead of complaining about it online, using it as a reason for why she could say she hates this town or waiting for someone else to address the dilemma, Mikaella decided to take the initiative herself. After only a short time in our area, she chose to take action to bring something positive and necessary to our community. Let’s find out how.

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This week, we’re joined by Mikaella Rough, the force behind those green, bicycle shaped racks you may have seen around town! Thank you for joining us this week, Mikaella. Before we talk about how you chose to get involved with the community, can you tell our readers what life was like for you, before moving to Elko? “I moved to Elko (October 2017) because I’m an exploration geologist. Previously, I was living in Australia; I lived there, in the Outback, for five years. I’m from California, originally. I moved to and lived in Montreal, Canada, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Colorado; I usually always lived in big cities. When I went to Australia, that was the first time I had moved to a small, rural twenty-four-thousand-person town (Mount Isa). It was a mining town like this; it was similar to Elko in many ways as both are very community focused places. I left because it was time to come back to the States and be closer to my family. However, before I left, I went and traveled the world for a year and a half. In that time, I did some volunteering with a group called All Hands and Hearts.”

Traveling the world, country to country, must have left you with many different experiences and life lessons. What was something you learned abroad that stuck with you even after returning to the USA and moving to Elko? “One thing you learn, while traveling the world, is if you want an environment to be a nice or a community to be better, you have to contribute to it! The activities you want to happen aren’t going to get done if you’re not the one who’s working, contributing, and trying to make it happen. It’s very easy to sit back and wait for everyone else to entertain you.”

“While traveling, I thought about the things I wanted to do to contribute to society, instead of watching everyone else be a part of it. Bike racks were something I thought Elko could use because when I got here, I didn’t buy a car for six or seven months; I was biking everywhere, and I was locking my bike to garbage cans. I noticed there weren’t heaps of racks here, especially in the downtown area.”

“I also noticed that Elko doesn’t have a big bike presence. I would have people tell me, that Elko’s not a biking city. Well, I believe the best way to start fixing that is by showing interested bikers they’re welcomed here.”

So, you saw a need and decided to be a part of seeing that need met. Can you give us an overview of how you went about getting the racks installed? “I started looking into different racks and thought they would be pretty if they looked like bikes themselves! Then, someone told me I needed to have a non-profit associated with getting them in (tax purposes for the contributing businesses). So, I contacted Elko Velo (cycling club), and they got involved. I went into different companies and asked if they would sponsor a rack; I knew it would look good for them if I promised they’d get a plaque with their name on it. We ended up getting thirteen sponsors! The plaques were made by a local company, and the wheel design on the bike shaped racks was developed by Lissa Overlie, so those were good community involvements. I had to do a survey with a bunch of people in town to see what color rack the most residents would like so that it would be more of a community involvement thing rather than just “Mikaella’s” thing. After that, I had to contact city planning, so they could tell me where we could put the racks; this also included contacting some of the business complex owners about permission to put the racks in. It ended up taking almost a year to get everything done that we needed. I started the whole thing back in January of 2018, and the racks went in this past November. The city planners and the city council will be the ones managing any problems with the racks going forward.”

“If we could get a couple more locations that people think would be a good place for a rack, then we could probably get a couple more of them installed with local sponsorships. Elko Velo, for example, has already generously installed racks at the Northeastern Nevada Museum, near The Star Hotel, and at the Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital.”

It sounds like you had a great group of men and women working with you to accomplish your goal. Was it always your intention to make installing the racks around town a collaborative effort? “When I started talking to people about getting involved with them, I could tell some thought I was coming with an ulterior motive for putting them in. However, when they first came out, I didn’t really want my name associated with them because I wanted the focus more to be on the racks themselves  I wanted them to be a celebration of what everyone contributed to make.”

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See you around, Elko!

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