Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan shook the dust of Washington, DC, off their feet—and the jobs that had kept them there—a year ago in order to bike around the world. The 29-year-olds' journey met a tragic end in Tajikistan on Sunday, with the Islamic State claiming credit for the bloody attack that took their lives. NPR reports the couple was biking in a group of seven south of the capital, Dushanbe, when a car drove into them. Attackers then descended on the group with knives, killing Austin, Geoghegan, a cyclist from the Netherlands, and another from Switzerland. The AP reports Tajik authorities made no mention of the ISIS angle but instead blamed the murders on the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, a local group that was banned over an alleged coup plot.
The Washington Post reports that if ISIS is found to have played a role, it would be their "first deadly attack in former Soviet Central Asia." The Post and NPR profile Austin—who had a master's from Georgetown, worked with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and had built a 143-square-foot tiny home in DC—and Geoghegan, also a Georgetown grad who studied Spanish and Arabic and worked in the university's admissions office. They left those lives behind and charted their adventures on their Simply Cycling blog, which tracked their journey throughout Africa, Europe, and central Asia. "Life is short and the world is big and we want to make the most out of our youth and good health before they’re gone," they wrote. NPR has many more excerpts from their blog, including details of Austin's final cliffhanger post. (Read more cyclists stories.)