Riding a bike and building houses
By Robin Scott
Riding 1,808 miles on a bicycle should exhaust and even defeat a person, but the 31 college-aged students and route leaders that arrived in Dalhart on Wednesday, July 15th were anything but defeated. The group left Jacksonville, Florida on June 10th to embark on a 3,700-mile road trip. The trip is one of many that young people across the United States have selected to take a part in.
Bike and Build is a non-profit organization that raises funds for affordable housing. Each cyclist earned $4,000 for the trip. The money goes toward the building of affordable housing as well as the group’s expenses while traveling. Each student that is participating in the 2009 Southern U.S. route was excited and ready to begin the next leg of the journey early Friday morning.
Marc Bush founded Bike and Build in 2002. Since the organization was created, more than 550 riders have participated in the numerous rides that are offered. This year’s Southern U.S. route allowed the students to ride through Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and California. The group is expected to finish up the ride in San Francisco on August 17th.
Bike and Build’s motto is “Pedaling to end poverty housing.” That goal is achieved through fund-raising cycling trips. The students participating also assist at least 10 days each year in the building projects. They may paint, hang dry wall, mud, or whatever is necessary to complete a project.
In an interview on Wednesday, the students expressed their dedication and love for their organization. They all eagerly raised money to attend in various projects. One of the more creative fund-raising efforts was that one student painted tennis shoes and sold them.
The group of young people in Dalhart on Wednesday and Thursday were from mostly the east coast. Two students were from Florida and one from California. A few were from the mid-west. None were from Texas, but a few stated that they had been in Texas before. While they sat and ate the dinner provided by the R.O.C, one student commented, “Do you mean we will actually be out of Texas tomorrow!?” The group spent nearly 700 miles of their journey riding within the State of Texas.
The students commented that a great part of their success in riding so far is their family support. They also stated that they have bonded with one another and encourage one another. In order to make the two-month long trip, they have given up many things, including jobs, time off from school, and their summer time. One student commented that the worst part of the trip thus far has been fire ant attacks.
One student stated, “Every day we don’t know what’s going to happen. For sure something will happen every day and I think, ‘This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.’ Then something will happen and I think, ‘This is the hardest thing I’ve had to do.’” Another student proclaimed, “So much happens in a day! Every day you want to cry at some point and you’re in awe at some point.” All of the students agree that the experience is very rewarding and that when things go wrong or not as planned that they all learn something from it and become a more cohesive group.
Bike and Build has contributed $1.6 million to housing groups to fund projects planned and executed by the young adults making the cross-country riding trips. The group that spent two nights in Dalhart has raised almost $150,000.
More information about Bike and Building may be found at www.bikeandbuild.org.