by Zoey

A summer on two wheels

Summer is usually a time to relax, unwind, and find a job or internship to make some extra money and explore your interests. Though that sounds like a perfect summer, I decided to take a different route this year. I’ve always enjoyed biking and traveling, so when an opportunity came up to bike across the country, I went for it!

The program is called Bike & Build and it brings together young adults (ages 18-25) from all across the nation to bike from the Atlantic to the Pacific in support of affordable housing. Each rider has to raise a certain amount of money, and that money provides funding for the housing projects we work on, donations to affordable housing groups who apply for our grant, and helps to pay for a road bike, gas for the support van, food, and something very important to people who bike 70+ miles a day: laundry! After the fundraising, training rides, and volunteer hours are over, the true fun begins!

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I flew to Charleston, South Carolina on May 25, which seems like years ago, and somehow meandered my way through hills, deserts, and mountains, and arrived in Santa Cruz, California on August 15.┬áThe days were long, ranging from 29 miles on a nice smooth bike path to 112 miles on the hot, deserted Oregon Trail, but the ride was so rewarding. I saw parts of the country I had never imagined before with 29 of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. It was so cool to jump into this crazy bike ride altogether because none of us knew what to expect, but that was part of the fun! You woke up everyday not knowing what you would get to see and do throughout the 13 states, and that was one of the best parts.

South Carolina

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Georgia

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Alabama

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Mississippi

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Arkansas

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Oklahoma

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Texas

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New Mexico

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Colorado

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Utah

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Idaho

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Oregon

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California

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Another great part of the trip was building affordable homes. I didn’t have much construction experience before the trip, but with each day that we built, I learned new skills and was able to meet the deserving families who would be living in the homes. It was so cool to hear their stories and build alongside them, they all truly deserved a place to call home!

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Though there were days with exhausting elevations, winds over 30mph, and roads with horrible traffic, we rode everyday with a positive attitude, knowing we were riding for a great cause and getting one step closer to the ocean. After 13 states, 4,233 miles, 83 days, an infinite amount of Clif Bars and Gatorade, and 13 flat tires, we made it to the Pacific coast, and the feeling of running into the ocean was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had!

If you love biking, exploring new places, and volunteering for a great cause, I highly recommend checking out Bike & Build! It truly is the opportunity of a lifetime, and the whole experience changed the way that I think about so many parts of my life. It was an incredible use of my summer!

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