Riding with Purpose: Challenging Graves' Disease and Searching for the Perfect Mountain Biking Shot (VIDEO)

May 6 2011, 9:13 AM

Students graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder today will surely take some time to reflect, relax, and prepare for the next steps in their lives. That means vacations or travel for many, but few will be journeying like engineering graduate Michaela Cui. As school wore on, Cui noticed she was losing focus in her classes and was abnormally tired after working out. She was also isolating herself from others and felt depressed.

It turns out Cui has Graves' disease, an overactive thyroid condition that can cause all of those symptoms and then some (National Institutes of Health). When they found out how many people Graves' impacts—particularly women over 20—Cui and a couple of friends decided to take a post-graduation bicycle ride from Anchorage to San Francisco to raise money for Graves' disease awareness (Daily Camera).

Riding a bike more than 3,000 miles—especially for someone learning to live with a condition known for sapping energy—is extreme, but not quite like what went down just across Colorado's western border recently. Mountain biker Matt Hunter and photographer Sterling Lorence set out in the Utah desert looking for the most epic mountain biking photo (NewWest). Some of the rocky outcroppings they encounter make for incredible shots—and heart-pounding drops.