Starting in Portland, OR and ending in Bellingham, WA, Drift West participants spend 3 weeks and 950 miles exploring the highlight reel of the Pacific Northwest. Geographic icons like the Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, Mt Rainier, Deception Pass, and the San Juan Islands are punctuated by “megacity” celebrities Portland and Seattle, allowing riders to experience the area’s renowned cultural and topographic diversity in full.
With build days in bewitchingly beautiful cities like Neah Bay and Friday Harbor, Drift West’s five build days are just as impressive as the surrounding terrain and feature a different affordable organization at each stop. Smaller affordable housing organizations like Makah Housing Authority and San Juan Community Home Trust who do local, specialized work are a primary feature of Drift West and afford riders a variegated perspective of affordable housing issues.
Bike & Build is a 501(c)(3) independent nonprofit organization. We work with young adults to produce cross-country and regional fundraising cycling trips, open to participants ages 18-26. The proceeds from our events are disbursed to affordable housing organizations to underwrite projects chiefly planned and executed by young adults in this age group. Check out our main website @ bikeandbuild.org for more info.
The fundraising requirement is $2250 and preference will be given to applicants who can ride for the entire 3 weeks. However, to make the ride accessible to those with commitments outside of spandex, the trip will be broken up into two parts. Non alumni can sign up for Days 1-14 (Portland to Bremerton) or ride the full three weeks. Alumni have the option to join the trip in Bremerton and ride the final 9 days to Bellingham. The fundraising requirement for Portland to Bremerton is $1500 and for Bremerton to Bellingham is $1100.
Drift West riders will have a donation program similar to our cross country model. The proceeds will be donated in four ways:
Crossing into Washington nearly immediately after leaving Portland, the first few days of Drift West are spent rolling through the back roads of Washington enroute to the Eastern side of the Olympic Peninsula. Hugging the lush, rugged coastline of the Pacific, riders camp on its shores as they traverse picturesque Route 101 and tack towards the Hoh Rainforest and its Hall of Mosses. Olympic National Park serves as a consistent backdrop as riders head to Neah Bay- the most northwestern town in the lower United States and home to Cape Flattery- for their second build day. The climb up Hurricane Ridge and its stunning views of glaciated mountain tops and meadows are next (Are you Google Imaging these locales?? My goodness.) followed by the Olympic Discovery Trail to Port Townsend. The last ride into Bremerton marks the beginning of the journey around the Puget Sound.
The ride to Eatonville takes riders to the foothills of the Cascades as they inch closer to Mt Rainier. Trekking a terrain dominated by old growth forests, most notably the Grove of the Patriarchs, riders climb over a vertical mile into Mt Rainier National Park and are rewarded with an equidistant descent into Seattle. The most recognized in-route metropolis, the Emerald City hosts the rider’s 4th build day. Riders continue to skirt the Puget Sound as they roll (and ferry) to Whidbey Island- home to a slew of Washington State Parks including Deception Pass. After a scenic ferry through the San Juan Islands, riders have their last build day on San Juan Island and then coast into Bellingham for their final, triumphant ride.
This was hands down, the most incredible thing I have ever done
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What is happenin' Bike & Build fam! My name is Sydney Arvin and Iâ€™m 25 years young from a small rural town in Mount Vernon, Kentucky. I graduated from the University of Kentucky in May 2016 with a degree in Exercise Science. I am currently a Physical Therapy Technician at an outpatient physical therapy clinic. When Iâ€™m not participating in the 8-5 life, I try to squeeze in enough time to adventure, cycle, watch sports, play sports, have rad dance parties & the list continues.
I originally heard about Bike & Build through one of my pals who I met on Semester at Sea. We remained in touch; I followed her on social media after our voyage and noticed she was getting ready for another opportunity to travel. I immediately became invested in her journey across America. After conversing back and forth, she encouraged me to apply for Bike & Build and I couldnâ€™t be more thrilled to participate in such an inspiring opportunity.
I have completed 2 Bike & Build trips: CUS '17 as a rider and SUS '18 as a leader! After dipping my wheel in the Pacific Ocean, I realized I wasnâ€™t finished. I wanted more. Both trips have inspired me to take it a step further and keep the fire ignitedâ€¦ but how could I do that? By leading a yet another B&B trip of course. I thoroughly enjoy this type of work - it not only keeps me engaged with what is around me, but also how to connect with people and become more confident in myself.
Growing up in a small, rural town in Kentucky, I watched how difficult affordable housing was for some to find. I not only witnessed this struggle in my own county and many of the surrounding counties, but also during my previous trips. It pains me to see families in need, whether they are struggling to provide a safe shelter or be responsible for locating their next meal. I have always had this drive to serve, volunteer and to help those in need. I want to continue spreading more awareness & information about the affordable housing issue back in my neck of the woods.
Why do I want to bike the PNW and participate in affordable housing again? The fuel the fire I felt from my previous trips that left me wanting more. My heart has never felt more full once I completed both trips; so to gain more experience and carry that feeling while leading a 2019 tripâ€¦ I couldnâ€™t think of a more humbling opportunity. I am thrilled to train, meet my team and carry out the roles & responsibilities as a 2019 Bike & Build leader. I couldnâ€™t be more proud to participate in this service-oriented cycling program once more. Holla.
My name is Becca and I grew up in southern New York. I studied Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. Here I fell in love with all things outside. I started mountain biking, climbing, trail running, and backpacking. I found that these things allowed me to get outside and connect with nature and challenge myself in various ways.
After I graduated I served an AmeriCorps term working with energy efficiency and electric co-ops. Here I learned how important it is to have affordable housing for everyone. A lot of our work was with people who couldn't afford to upgrade their home and therefore their energy bills were extremely high, even though they were living in very uncomfortable living situations. There is a huge connection between affordable housing and energy efficiency and I am really excited to see and take part in the building side of the housing issue.
During my AmeriCorps term, I realized that I really enjoy being part of something bigger than myself. I loved being around people who were passionate about their work and also being able to directly work with people who were dealing with these difficult situations. It was empowering and exciting to be able to put my energy and effort into trying to make someone else's life easier, healthier, and more comfortable.
After my year with AmeriCorps, I took four months to travel. I thru-hiked the Colorado trail, ventured out of the country, and then took a three-week road trip out to Salt Lake City, UT where I currently live. On this road trip, I did a lot of mountain biking and it really sparked my interest in all things biking. I love the flow that comes with mountain biking, but I really appreciate the endurance needed to complete a long road cycling trip. Now, I work at Alta Ski Area as a ski lift operator. For me, there is something very special about working in the mountains outside all day and being able to ski every day.
I am really excited to bike across the Pacific Northwest with Bike & Build because I think it is a great way to mix my two passions of adventuring and being part of a larger cause. I really enjoy pushing myself physically and mentally and I think that biking 950 miles will do exactly this. I am excited to be in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and learn more about the affordable housing issues that area of the country faces and make a difference.
Hi, my name is Jordan and I am so excited to be a part of Bike & Build! I am currently 23 years old. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, camping, snowboarding, taking pictures (mostly of my dog), hanging out with friends, being in nature, and often complaining of how I should be studying.
I was born and raised in Colorado. I moved out to California for my freshman year of college studying architecture, however soon realized that was not what I wanted to do. I took a year off school and moved to Telluride to be a snowboard instructor for the winter. I then finished up my degree in health and exercise science and psychology at Regis University in Denver and am now planning to apply to medical school this upcoming spring.
I had a couple high school and college friends who were a part of Bike & Build. I remember years ago hearing about this organization but never really thinking much about it. After I saw someone post about it on social media I decided to follow the Bike & Build Instagram account. I slowly started to think about it more and more until I decided it was really something I wanted to do. Luckily this summer works as a perfect time for me to do something like this!
The affordable housing cause is a very real and relevant issue. Having a safe and secure home, fulfills a basic human need for shelter, yet many people are not earning enough to keep up with the sky rocketing costs of living. Without stable housing, families lack a sense of security. Many aspects of life, such as mental and physical health, child development, and success in school and work begin to suffer or are compromised. Creating safe, affordable and reliable housing can have a long-lasting and life-changing effect on families and communities.
From talking to previous riders and reading bios online, I have heard nothing but good things about Bike & Build. I love that Bike & Build combines the important issue of affordable housing with the adventure of biking across the country, meeting new people, and pushing ourselves to new limits. While this journey will challenge me mentally and physically, it will also give me the opportunity to learn, discuss and spread knowledge about the affordable housing cause. It excites me to become part of an organization that fosters a sense of community, support, and service not only to its riders, but also to everyone encountered along the way.
I am so excited and cannot wait to be a part of this journey. Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way!
My name is Brandon Czekay. I just turned 25 years old, but I spent most of that time in a small town outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I grew up. After spending four amazing years at the University of Wisconsin â€“ Stevens Point and earning degrees in physics and math, I went South and settled in the beautiful capital city of Madison. Iâ€™ve always been familiar with Madison, as I had friends that went to school here, but I came with a goal to develop a deeper understanding of what a bigger city had to offer
My passion for fitness grew with my love for this city, as I fell into an active peer group who shared my interests in cycling (indoors, and out!), running, hiking, and camping. Since moving, I have completed two 10k races, a half marathon, and a sprint-distance triathlon. After a run or ride, you can catch me exploring the local food scene, or trying out a new local brewery.
Iâ€™ve always had a love for cycling, and a bike was my main form of transportation (and recreation) throughout college. My girlfriend, Kirsten, and I, spend a large percentage of our time together on our bikes â€“ whether commuting to a restaurant or circling the lake. She told me about an incredible trip her best friend, Carly, was embarking on. A cross country trip has always been on my bucket list, but I was extremely impressed to find out Carly wasnâ€™t just going on such a trip for herself but doing it in support of the Affordable Housing cause. I watched her make her way up the East coast from Key West to Canada via social media and saw how impactful the experience was for her, as well as the amazing team that she shared her journey with. I knew I had to find a way to become part of a Bike & Build team.
Volunteering has been a part of my life for many years. In high school, I spent time at the local food pantry assisting those with mobility issues take the food they needed home for their families. As an Eagle Scout, I have participated in many service projects in my community, including one I designed and led myself.
The homelessness problem in Madison is obvious to anyone who visits, and I come in contact to those affected every day as I live my life in the city that I am privileged to call home. Today, I work closely with those that provide healthcare to incarcerated individuals, a large percentage of whom were afflicted by homelessness prior to their imprisonment. It has become abundantly clear to me over the past two years how hard it is on those living without something so many of us take for granted â€“ a roof over your head.
The opportunity to make an impact on individuals and families at risk for homelessness and possible imprisonment while biking hundreds of miles through the beautiful Pacific Northwest is one that excites me to the point of sleeplessness. The challenge of a 1000-mile bike trek combined with the reward of providing affordable housing to those in need is an experience that would surely live among the highest highlights of my life. Drift West is that opportunity, and it is one I cannot pass up. (Sharing such a trip with my girlfriend would the icing on the cake!).
Iâ€™ve been so lucky to have grown up in a family that has never been faced with the challenge of losing a home or surviving without one. That challenge is one that no family should have to face, and Bike & Build affords myself and others a way to help reduce the number of people that do.
My name is Erin Dominici. I am 24 years old and live, work, and study in Chicago, IL. I work full time as a research data analyst at Northwestern University (â€¦and as a research assistant at the University of Chicagoâ€¦ and as a freelance data analyst online) while studying as a part-time graduate student Northwestern toward my Masterâ€™s in Public Health (June 2019!).
I originally heard about Bike & Build from a friend who did the program in 2016. I remember seeing a picture on Facebook of her holding up her bike triumphantly just after having biked and built across the U.S. that summer. At the time I thought â€œHuh, that seems pretty cool,â€ and more or less tucked away Bike & Build to the back of my mind. Fast forward two years later, I was working with an organization that provides affordable housing and health programs to a primarily young, LGBTQ population and trying to work on my fitness when Bike & Build reentered. I decided to do some more researchâ€¦
As a public health student, Iâ€™ve helped build a health resource databases for an organization with an affordable housing initiative and studied the impact of technology and data science on individuals experiencing homelessness. Throughout my studies, Iâ€™ve cultivated an interest in public health innovation and researchâ€”developing unique, effective interventions with the populations they are meant for. Most of my work has been in the realm of developing sexual health interventions for diverse adolescent LGBTQ populations. Moving forward in my studies and career, I want to develop this interest further and see Bike & Build as a unique opportunity to do this.
One of my primary reasons for participating in Bike & Build is to bring light to some of the false way we think about people experiencing homelessness or poverty. In the US, we typically view the poor as lazy, purposefully unemployed, and just looking for handoutsâ€”whether that be on the street or from Welfare; we blame them for their poverty. However, the truth is that the vast majority of Americans experiencing homelessness and/or poverty work multiple jobs and are subject to systematic inequalities and oppression that contribute to negative feedback loops that keep them in poverty. I feel it is incredibly important to raise money and awareness for an affordable housing initiative to help bring light to these stereotypes and the actual experiences of those living in poverty.
Hey there! My name is Emma, I'm 23-years-old, and I'm from Lakewood, Colorado. I've grown up in Colorado my whole life and absolutely love the outdoor adventures this state provides. I spent my freshman year of college at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA (which is where the Drift West route ends!) and then spent the next 3 years going to school at the University of Colorado Boulder. There, I studied Marketing and Creative Writing. Now I live in Denver and work for a tech startup that teaches kids how to code!
I heard about Bike & Build from a few friends that were loud 'n proud about their own experiences doing it. I'm drawn to B&B because it combines 3 things I'm very passionate about: being active outside, traveling, and most importantly, helping people!
Both in high school and in college, I was involved in clubs that frequently volunteered in the community. I've served food at the Denver Rescue mission, picked up trash along the streets of Boulder, and put on my best scary face for YMCA haunted houses. Now that I'm out of school, I'm itching for new ways to get my hands dirty and help different communities!
Biking 40+ miles a day for a month scares the crud out of me, but the craving to meet new people, explore Oregon and Washington, and lend a helping hand far outweigh my fears!
Please consider making a donation to the Affordable Housing cause! The funds raised are given to nonprofits around the country who are providing safe, stable, and affordable housing to people that need it.
My name is Nick Hales and I am from Raleigh, North Carolina! I am currently 25 years old, (26 as of summer 2019) and I graduated from NC State with a degree in Architecture in 2016. Within days of walking across the stage with my degree in hand, I began my first experience with Bike & Build, packing up everything I'd need for a summer on the road and drove down to Jacksonville, Florida where I began my adventure across the United States destined for Monterey, California. The trip was more humbling and incredible than I could've ever imagined, it's emotional roller coasters only matched and surpassed by the testing climbs and beautiful downhill roads that we experienced. It was ultimately the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life, and it opened my eyes to the astounding kindness and generosity of people across the United States - something that I will forever be grateful for. I hope to lead a trip this year to share the experience with the next generation of Bike & Builders!
A little about myself:
I graduated with a degree in architecture from NC State University in Raleigh, NC, a town I've called home for the full 25 years of my life. As a child growing up in a suburban neighborhood, I was fascinated watching houses being built. I would explore them and see how they were laid out, guessing which rooms were which and where things would go. I'd notice how the wood stud walls were put together and began to learn the process over the years. This ultimately led me to pursue a degree in architecture, with the dream of designing homes one day. I currently work in Durham, NC and I am pursuing my license to become a registered architect!
I first heard of Bike & Build through one of my college buddies who had completed a trip after he graduated. One night we were out grabbing drinks for his birthday and he mentioned that applications were open and that I should apply, without even hesitating I said that I'd do it and asked him to hold me to it, not really thinking too much of it. The next day he texted me asking how my application was going - I hadn't even started, I totally forgot... Yikes! So I put my tail in gear and quickly pulled together an application. A few months later, after hundreds of training miles and a few thousand dollars raised, I was on my way down to Jacksonville to start my trip!
Affordable housing has always been of interest to me. As an aspiring architect, I am interested in the process of designing and building spaces that better the lives of those who occupy them. This should not be limited to only those who can pay top dollar for a big name starchitect, only using the finest materials for the fanciest clients. Good design should be available to all and should be relatively affordable. Housing is a fundamental need, and when families are stressed to pay an exuberant portion of their paycheck for rent or a mortgage, then they have to make concessions elsewhere. Often this means spending less on food or medical supplies or other essentials, ultimately compounding the struggles they face. Without safe, decent housing, families cannot focus on what's most important to them, and children cannot grow into the best versions of themselves. I'm passionate for this cause because I've been fortunate enough throughout my life to never have to worry about a roof over my head or where my next meal may come from, and for that I am extraordinarily grateful, but I know there are a lot of people who aren't as fortunate and I've always been taught to help those who need it most and to give back when you can. I think everybody deserves the opportunity to live in a home that's safe and have the time and space to become the best version of themselves.
My name is Joel Hardcastle. I am a 28-year-old living in Kalamazoo, MI. I am currently studying at Western Michigan University.
My introduction to the Affordable Housing cause was in 2014 when I was inspired to reevaluate my life and start working to improve myself. As a result of that inspiration I rode with Bike & Build on SC2SC in the summer of 2014. Once I had finished my trip I enrolled in college classes and began to pursue higher education. At the end of 2015 I enlisted with AmeriCorps where I served as a Construction Liaison for the Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity. Upon completion of my service (13 months) I was offered a job as a part-time Site Supervisor with the KVHH. This position gave me the chance to continue working within AH while I continued my studies as a full-time marketing student. To occupy what little free-time I end up having I love to work with my hands. I work with leather and make theatre quality prosthetic masks and armor. I guess you could classify me as an artist, but I donâ€™t really look at it that way. A large portion of my projects end up being used for medieval combat games or larp (live action role-playing). Basically we wear funny clothes and hit each other with sticks.
I am excited for the opportunity to ride alongside like-minded individuals and to further demonstrate the importance of Affordable Housing. My time working with the Kalamazoo Valley Habitat has taught me a great deal. While I might not be in the greatest biking shape as I write this; I definitely know how to wield a hammer. I guess the biking part will come back to me quick enough. I believe there is a saying about riding a bike? Not to mention the sweet tan lines that come from wearing spandex every day. All in all I am ready to tackle whatever the road can throw at me and I cannot imagine a better way to experience every aspect of this country. Letâ€™s kick it in!
My name is Kirsten Heikkinen, I'm 23 years old, and I grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I work and live in Madison, Wisconsin, but before moving to this amazing city, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a degree in math. I also got a minor in psychology, which doesnâ€™t pair *super* well with math, but itâ€™s interesting and I loved it â€“ so why not!
Iâ€™ve made Madison my home over the past couple years and have found countless ways to express all my interests â€“ some of which include being outdoors, volunteering, and over-indulging in delicious food.
With my move to Madison also came my love of bicycling â€“ this place lives for it! When I heard my best friend from college signed up for a program called Bike & Build that would give her the opportunity to bike across the country (all the way from Key West to Canada?!) *and* help the Affordable Housing cause, I was more than excited for her, not to mention CRAZY jealous. I followed Carlyâ€™s journey through photos shared and periodic texts and had the chance to meet her at the end of her ride in Portland, Maine. I met all her amazing Bike & Build friends and had a chance to hear firsthand about their incredible experiences. I was totally sold â€“ I knew I needed to do this too.
Giving back to my community has always been a passion of mine. In high school, I worked with children at Vacation Bible School and Sunday School. In college, I helped watch the children of single mothers who were going back to school to pursue their education. Now, I help coach soccer to children from low income families and spend a couple hours a week volunteering with Serrv, a non-profit organization that fights poverty through fair trade. I live next door to a YWCA, which provides housing and shelter programs to single women, children, and families. I see firsthand, every day, how much of an impact this has on the Madison community.
To have the chance to broaden my volunteering experience; to help provide affordable housing to those outside of my immediate reach; to make a lasting impact on families and myself â€“ all while biking through the Pacific Northwest â€“ would be an unforgettable milestone in my life. Iâ€™ve spent all 23 of my years in the Midwest. It would be equally challenging and rewarding to push outside my comfort zone and participate in a physically and emotionally demanding adventure like Drift West.
I have been incredibly privileged and have received so much help and support from family and friends in leading this life of mine. I hope to have even a fraction of this kind of an effect on others, while simultaneously igniting a spark in myself to continue fighting for social justice. What better way to continue this goal than Bike & Build?
Hi! My name is Caroline Herre, and I live in Washington, DC. I'm originally from beautiful Norfolk, Virginia and Virginia's Eastern Shore, where I grew up running around in the marshes and swimming in the Chesapeake Bay. I studied economics and urban planning at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and I spent a lot of time working in UVAâ€™s Community Garden. Through studying urban policy, design, and community engagement in the School of Architecture, I first became interested in the broader issues surrounding affordable housing. Now, in my job in real estate development in Northern Virginia, I am more actively involved in the financial framework that funds a good portion of new affordable housing. I work with developers, city staff members, engineers, and architects to design new buildings while working to incorporate the local jurisdictionâ€™s affordable housing policies. Needless to say, itâ€™s a complicated process, but at the very least, a lot of good people are tirelessly working to ensure that every family has a fair shot at a stable housing situation.
Outside of work, I commute on my bike about twelve miles a day from my house in northwest DC across the Potomac River (unforgettable at sunrise and sunset, if you time it right â€“ imagine the Washington Monument in the pink-purple sky!) into Arlington, Virginia. Iâ€™m an avid reader and always open to new recommendations. I also love hiking, gardening, and getting friends together for home cooked meals.
I first heard about Bike & Build when I chipped in for my friend and sorority sister, Margaret Lowe, when she went on a trip while we were in college. A true joy to be around, Margaret brought life and energy to everything she did. She even carried a spikeball set across the country with her, and she returned from the trip excited to share her experience. Margaret passed away early in our senior year of college. I havenâ€™t quite figured out how I can best carry her with me, but maybe itâ€™s by biking for a couple weeks in the Pacific Northwest for a cause we both care about with a spikeball set in tow.
Hello! My name is Josh or you can call me J Kim. Iâ€™m a returning rider for my second trip! My first trip was South Carolina 2 Santa Cruz back in â€˜15. I loved everything about Bike & Build â€“ the team, leaders, volunteering, the cause, country, and all the passionate and amazing people you meet along the way!
A bit about me. Born and raised in SoCal in LA and OC county. Currently living in the 626, San Gabe Valley. I consider myself an avid outdoorsman and waterman. I love driving out to the waters off of Palos Verdes, CA to spearfish and lobster dive. I also rock climb, mountain/road bike, and converted a Ford E150 into a camper van! B&B had a huge role in My obsession with the outdoor life and the freedom of it.
Iâ€™ve been working for 2 years now as an Emergency Medical Technician for an ambulance company contracted with the LA County Fire Department running 911 medical calls. The long days at work is always different and can be pretty exciting as you can truly never know what youâ€™re going to see. The partners I work with, the Fire departments, Hospital staff, patients, and of course the lovely drivers not paying attention all make this line of work memorable. It really has tested my patience, challenged my outlook on life through the realities people face, and taught me many lessons. But ultimately, itâ€™s shown me that I love being there as a comforting presence and caring for people and itâ€™s a privilege to be able to do so in their time of need. My plan is to remain working in the medical field as either a paramedic or ER Nurse!
There are an endless number of reasons why want to be a part of this team and ride across the US. Look, Iâ€™m just being real, I need more photos with Bike & Build because my Instagram is weak af... Kidding! The memories and relationships Iâ€™ve made and the awareness for this cause Iâ€™ve gained with my first trip made the time the best summer of my life. I canâ€™t wait for the surprises Iâ€™ll face, the team members Iâ€™ll meet, and the fruits of helping burdened families struggling to make ends meet and who will benefit insurmountably from the service we provide. I want to be surrounded by teammates that are passionate and who are advocates for those whose voices arenâ€™t being heard loud enough. I feel that this environment cultivates a heart and character will fight for the betterment of society. Bike & Build riders become the activists who engage with the issues in their local communities and I want the privilege again to be part of a team that will do great things over the summer and forward.
Hey all! Iâ€™m Jess, a 25-year-old from the NH coastal shire who found her way to the west coast over the last few years. I graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2019 with a bachelorâ€™s in Environmental Conservation and Sustainability a specialization in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems and minors in Education and Art. Upon graduating I set out to hike the Long Trail in Vermont where I made connections that took me through and across the states to where Iâ€™ve now landed: The Bay Area.
The majority of my work and volunteer experience has revolved around food access, public health, conservation, and agriculture. I first learned about Bike & Build as a teenager while working on a small farm in Stratham, NH. A few riders stopped by for snacks on a warm summer day and every year since then, Iâ€™ve wondered, â€œis this the year?â€ (Yep, this is the year.) While traveling across country a few years ago, I was exposed to 21 states Iâ€™d never set foot in. During that period of time, I was fortunate enough to take a glimpse into the lives and living situations of folks throughout the whole country. It was a wakeup call. The homeless and housing problem is very real, and itâ€™s not just in small town NH. In fact, itâ€™s far worse the closer to large city hubs you get. I now live in San Francisco where 795 people per 100,000 residents are homeless. In 2016, the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness estimated the number of homeless folks to be up to 12,000. Thatâ€™s more than half the number of people living in my hometown of Portsmouth, NH, where affordable housing is the hot topic of the year. Think about that.
Over the past year and a half, Iâ€™ve worked for Plenty, an indoor hydroponics ag-tech start up on a mission to change the food system. During this time, Iâ€™ve seen first-hand how the current systems our society functions under can impact people. Humans with 3 jobs working 24 hours a day, weeks at a time, to feed their family. Humans who sleep in their car for 30 minutes to rest before their next shift. Humans who work the night shift to ensure their kiddos can get to school on time despite Bay Area traffic, so social services wonâ€™t get involved. Humans who commute 4+ hours a day to sleep on a floor with a roof over their heads for a few hours. This is real. These are people in our lives.
Bike & Build is a force making changes that directly impact the wellbeing of the humans around us. Our friends, coworkers, neighbors, families, and community members. Not only have they granted more the $6.6 million to 1,400 affordable housing organizations since 2003, they have created a growing awareness by advertising on wheels. When I set out to travel west, I told myself it was time to grow. Iâ€™ve grown plants, teams, friendships, connections, and even growing systems.
Time to hop on & grow some more.
My name is Matthew Noto. Presently, I work as a Geological Technician for an environmental engineering firm in Tampa, Florida. Unfortunately, the details of my work are difficult to explain in a brief summary. Therefore, the easiest analogy I can use to explain my career is that Iâ€™m simply an earth janitor trying to keep Floridaâ€™s natural aquifer and surface water safe from industrial pollution!
I earned a Bachelor of Science in Geology at the University of South Florida on December 6, 2016. Yes, I really do love rocks that much. So much so that Iâ€™m the worst hiking partner because my nose is always glued to the ground and my pack always ends up being twice as heavy at the end of the trip with all my samples!
Like my major, my hobbies have always been extreme and unique. I grew up racing enduro motocross and discovered at a young age my passion for life on two wheels. In college, I was an active member of the karst caving and outdoor club. After college, Iâ€™ve developed a deep passion for bicycle riding, scuba diving, surfing, and freedive spearfishing. Iâ€™ve always loved adventure sports not only because of the thrill but also because of all the unique and exciting people Iâ€™ve met along the way. Iâ€™ve come to see that within each person lies an adventure; which is why meeting incredible motivated young activists is one of the many reasons Iâ€™m so excited to be given the opportunity to ride for Bike & Build.
I was first introduced to Bike & Build four years ago when I was a sophomore in college. My friendâ€™s boyfriend was completing one of the cross-country trips as a leader. As she explained to me the mission of Bike & Build, I immediately became fascinated by the affordable housing mission and the adventurous challenge of biking across the United States. However, it wasnâ€™t until three years later that Bike & Build found its way back into my life. While I was waiting in JFK airport, to depart on my first Europe trip, I found an outlet to charge my phone beside a girl who was ironically wearing a Bike & Build T-shirt. Fate had it that she was flying back from California after having completed her Central US trip. Of course, I was instantly excited, and I knew after listening to her experiences and learning how much of an impact she made that I had to get involved!
I grew up in Brooksville, Florida, forty minutes north of Tampa. I am the proud son of a Drywall Contractor, and like my family, Iâ€™ve spent a lot of time working in the housing trades. Iâ€™ve worked as a drywall hand, land surveyor, and a general laborer to support my way through high school and college. Having this working-middle-class blue-collar family background, Iâ€™ve had first-hand experience with the fragility of the building trades and the corruption rotting residential development. My parents would always talk about the decreasing quality of houses that are constructed to save the developers money at the cost and safety of the homeowner. This inconvenient truth leads to families buying fragile houses that they see as an â€œinvestmentâ€, only slowly rob them of their savings and credit one mortgage bill, rent check, or repair at a time.
Volunteering has always been my avenue to give back to my community. I believe that any act of unpaid labor can empower people to create a better living environment for themselves and others. Iâ€™ve seen change in my own life through volunteering for non-profits like Over the Edge, Tampa Bay Watch, The Florida Aquarium, and Camp Boggy Creek. Through these experiences, and my time working in the housing market, Iâ€™ve been able to strongly identify with Bike & Builds vision for a sustainable future.
To venture across the country or even through two states is a daunting task and one that invites hesitation. However, just like any adventure, I believe the best way to start is by putting one foot, or in this case- wheel, in front of the other and believe that the process will ultimately lead to the destination. Yes, biking sixty plus miles a day in all types of weather conditions will be challenging. Furthermore, stopping to build houses after days of long riding will be demanding. However, I believe that the empowerment of self-sacrifice and overcoming demanding challenges will ignite hope and vision in the eyes and hearts of the people that I touch along the way. The idealism that people will use Bike & Builds efforts to make change in their own communities makes any challenge worth it for me.
Hello, my name is Kathryn, or to some Ryn, and I grew up in different parts of Missouri before traveling to Philadelphia for college. I graduated from Haverford College in 2015 with a BS in Psychology and left two months later for a 27-month commitment with the US Peace Corps in Tanzania. I taught English at a rural school, coached our football (soccer) team, and spent time getting to know my neighbors. While I was there, my best friend in the village gave birth and I had my first glimpse at maternal health and the barriers that women face. With a new passion for womenâ€™s health, I moved to Zambia and spent a third year with the Peace Corps as a response volunteer on the Saving Motherâ€™s Giving Life project working to decrease maternal mortality and morbidity. Volunteers that I served with in both Tanzania and Zambia spent the summer after returning home biking across the country with Bike & Build. My love of travel and adventure paired with my responsibility for social justice led me to follow in their footsteps and apply. On this trip, I am looking forward to learning more about the intersection of womenâ€™s health and affordable housing, while working on build sites throughout the country.
The more I learned about maternal health in the US, the more important the Affordable Housing cause became. Having a safe, secure place to raise children, eat, sleep, and come home to is fundamental to building a healthy life. I have chosen to raise money for the Affordable Housing cause because I believe that it is part of the answer for so many other social issues, including food security, public health, and education. During my time with the Peace Corps I saw how important a stable home-life was for my students, and its effect on the health of pregnant moms as well as newborns. After seeing a correlation between secure housing and education/health, I feel it is important for me to address affordable housing issues at home in the US.
On a more personal note, I am excited to bike cross country because the trip will be one year after I had a bad accident while living in Zambia. While on a guided canoe trip, I was attacked by a wild elephant (yes, you read that correctly!) and one of the elephantâ€™s tusks went through the back of my knee, almost resulting in amputation. I have spent countless hours re-teaching my body to walk and building muscle back. Biking cross country while doing something I am passionate about, community service, sounds like a perfect way to celebrate my recovery.
Hello! My name is Tarang and Iâ€™m currently on a gap year. Iâ€™ve been living in India for the past 11 years. I grew up in a solar-powered house with rainwater harvesting, and helped plant, water and harvest the vegetables grown there, which is why sustainability is important for me.
In school I studied math, biology, physics, art and psychology, and realised that I did not have a clear idea as to what I wished to learn or do after school. In order to learn more about myself and others, right now I am traveling, learning new skills and trying out new activities while being helpful in some manner to people and the planet.
I kicked off my gap year with a 3-week program with a dozen people in the Himalayas at a place called Dharmalaya Institute (dharmalaya.in) focusing on sustainable and affordable building, mainly with mud and wood. We worked together on several projects, from digging the foundations of a shed to sanding and varnishing wood. We stomped on mud, squishing it between our toes, before gathering it and plastering it on walls. This was all new to me: fresh out of school, fresh out of a concrete city, and I relished it. It seemed so thrillingly fundamental to build from scratch.
Perhaps the most monotonous task in the Himalayas was the most rewarding too: stone smoothening. Rubbing and rubbing and rubbing and rubbing again and again and again (for forever). Whatâ€™s amazing, is that the eternally rough can also be smoothed with time. It is somehow so satisfying to do this, I realised I liked working directly on projects, with my hands, I'm looking forward to doing more stuff like that!
Later, I volunteered at a retreat center in California, preparing breakfast and doing the dishes for 70 people, scraping lead paint off walls, and vacuuming off footprints. The level of community there was incredible, perhaps because each of us was closely involved with everything. From hiking to playing card games to nightly discussions, we got to know each other very well.
Now I am participating in a 6 month Americorps program, camping for 8 days at a time, working 10 hours a day, as a part of a 7 person crew that travels to different parts of Arizona to assist conservation efforts there. We worked and lived together, whether we were removing of invasive species, repairing trails, putting up signs or cooking.
I enjoyed connecting with the other volunteers and staff members at all of these places. This is something I want to experience wherever I go: the enduring power of human connections. I think it really changes things: a positive social experience can make even dismal situations enjoyable. I'm looking for places where I can establish close connections with other people, because that is when I will be really happy, and will learn the most.
So what does this have to do with affordable housing? Everything. Iâ€™ve been in a constant state of flux, jumping from place to place. Iâ€™ve stayed with friends, volunteered in exchange for housing, and camped out. Of course itâ€™s exciting and fun, but it would be great if I could get my own house to return to, and so many people, both in India and US, lack it. Not because there arenâ€™t enough houses, but because the people who need it most donâ€™t have the money for it. Everyone should have a place to call home, not just because it makes society more stable, or makes people more productive, or is psychologically beneficial, but because it is a universal human right.
So why is the biking important? I see all sorts of places, while learning different ways to build houses and helping people. Different areas need different ways of building. For example, in the Himalayas, houses built out of mud were much cheaper and easier to maintain than concrete. In fact, concrete is usually not a suitable material for tropical countries because it traps too much heat, but of course, in colder countries, it makes more sense. When I interned at an architecture company, I realised that a broader perspective was necessary to find better ways to build, because the architects just didnâ€™t know how to do things better. Thatâ€™s why biking is so important, to learn first-hand in which situations you build in a certain way. Affordable housing is about efficiency and contextual design, not a universal factory design that tries treating different climates and cultures in the same way.
In essence, through Bike & Build, I get to help build houses and make a difference in the world while traveling through it. I even get a community of other bikers with me. My personal goals all intertwine in this one program.
I hope you can donate to this amazing project!
If we've never met, thank you so much for visiting my rider page. If you're a friend, thank you for responding to my endless self-promotion! I am so happy you are here.
So who am I you ask? My name's Emma and I'm fresh off a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Philadelphia Legal Assistance. I am a recent(ish) grad from Penn and a long-term lover of Philadelphia. I rode with Bike & Build back in 2015 on a b-e-a-u-tiful route from North Carolina to San Diego and I am more than psyched to ride again with Drift West this summer.
I am returning to Bike & Build for a number of reasons, perhaps the primary being I never really left. Since my 2015 trip I have been surrounded, emotionally and geographically, by Bike & Builders. They have influenced my ideas and professional decisions, they have inspired me, and they sometimes do my dishes (thank you Abby & Erik!). Most importantly, they have helped solidify affordable housing as an issue that I continue to grapple with four years later.
Safe, affordable housing is a fundamental human right. Everyone deserves the ability to go home at the end of the day and feel comfortable and secure in their home. In addition to deserving this, human beings require it. In my work at a health center based legal assistance office, we often see clients struggling with a number of health issues as a result of housing affordability issues.
Affordable housing is obviously a huge, complex problem that cannot be solved solely through building Habitat homes or raising money for AH organizations. Still, these contributions make an enormous amount of difference for the individuals who cross our Bike & Build path. I think this is especially important for us to remember now, when larger political forces can seem so uncontrollable. Our actions have impacts and we can make a bit of difference.
Being surrounded by a group of passionate people who have taken vastly different paths through life. An environment where you are not only safe and comfortable but empowered to make change. A group united by a cause. These are the aspects of Bike & Build I would love to return to and have a hand in creating for my own group.
To end, I'll quote my past self, "I am incredibly nervous for this trip but I am also so freaking excited...I cannot wait to bike through parts of the United States that I've never even heard of and I'm looking forward to meeting a group of people who all believe in the idea of affordable housing and are willing to bike across the United States to do something about it".
My name is Charlie Stelnicki and I am from a suburb just outside Chicago, IL called Western Springs. I study International Studies and Sustainability the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and enjoy beautiful rides around that area with the UM Club Cycling team. I also enjoy working for the yearbook staff as an editor and am a proud Greek life member.
Ever since I was young, biking to me has been a liberating experience. I used my laughable yet lovable hand-me-down blue Trek for all my years of elementary school, pushing my mom to let me go further and explore more of our area to a fault. I have always had a knack for maps and the world around me, which naturally led to an interest in languages, other cultures, and finally my course of study at university. All of those beautiful days of spring, summer and fall on two wheels as a kid gave me all the incentive I needed to set a goal to see as much natural beauty as I can. I believe that it's imperative each and every one of us pursues what we love and to spread that love to those close to us in everything we do. Doing this trip is something my close, late friend Derek, who loved the outdoors and extreme sports, would be proud of me to do, and I feel it is an opportunity which I can not afford to delay.
I heard about B&B from a coworker of mine who had an unforgettable experience riding the Southern U.S. route in 2017. I am really dedicated to improving the lives and conditions of those down on their luck as I endured significant hardship growing up. Every boy and girl deserves a loving family and a happy home. That is why I am so excited to bike through the unbelievably breathtaking PNW on my first visit there and make a substantial contribution to people who need it. And of course, to have fun doing it!
My name is Theresa Willmott-McMahon. I am 19 years old and a sophomore at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. I grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, which is right outside of Washington, D.C. I am studying Politics and Rhetoric with a concentration in Visual Art at Bates. You might be thinking â€œwhat is rhetoric?â€ In short, it is the study of communication and language with a particular emphasis on persuasion. So basically Iâ€™m spending four years learning how to beat everyone is arguments.
Since I was little, sports have been a huge part of my life (Go Yankees!). Name a sport, I have probably played it â€” baseball, basketball, soccer, swimming, diving, tennis, track, field hockey, lacrosse, and of course biking! Of all the sports, I have continued to play lacrosse in college. Sports have always held an important place in my heart because of the community they create. Working together to achieve a common goal unites a group and creates a family.
I am going on this trip with my twin brother, Brennan. We are both really competitive (hence all the sports) with each other unless we are on the same team, then nobody can take us down. Our mom told us that we should do a triathlon (approximately 25 miles of biking) so naturally, we decided to do a 980 mile bike trip instead. We have always loved watching cycling (love you Chris Froome) and biking ourselves. More importantly, we are bonded by our desire to help people who face less fortunate circumstances than the ones we were lucky enough to grow up in. When I heard about Bike & Build, I thought it was the perfect opportunity, combining two of the things that are most important to me.
The community created by Bike & Build is united by sport, but also a greater cause, affordable housing. This cause has always been important to me, but became closer to my heart last spring. I had the opportunity to volunteer as an assistant teacher in the English Language Learning (ELL) classrooms at Lewiston High School. Most of these students are refugees and immigrants who have already faced impossible hardships so early in their lives. Many of these students lived in affordable housing with their families and I could see how making their circumstance a little bit more manageable made a drastic impact on their lives.
I grew up in a house, I had a driveway to learn to ride a bike in and I believe everyone deserves to have that. Affordable housing should be a basic human right, not something you have to be born into. I have an opportunity to help provide it to more people, so how could I turn that down?
Hey, everyone! My name is Brittney Woodrum. Iâ€™m originally from a small town outside of Lexington, Kentucky. I attended the University of Kentucky where I studied Spanish and Arts Administration. After graduation, I bounced around quite a bit in search of my true calling. Having studied nonprofit administration, I used my experience to work in NGOs around the world in an attempt to realize my life mission of being of service wherever the need is greatest.
Upon graduating in 2015, I moved to Guadalajara, Mexico to teach English. I loved the culture and dynamic nature of teaching, but after a year there, my work opened another door to a similar opportunity a bit further away in Yangon, Myanmar. In Myanmar I lived and worked in a Buddhist nunnery to help build an English school for nuns. This was perhaps the most formidable year of my life. I completely immersed myself in the nunsâ€™ way of life, bringing no more than a backpack of possessions and embracing their day-to-day practices. Living with the nuns taught me about the simplicity of happiness, and I believe it was there that I adopted a more minimalistic lifestyle.
After my year in Myanmar, I decided that teaching English was not my true calling. I enjoyed teaching, but I wanted something more hands-on. Thatâ€™s why in July of 2017, I moved to Bangkok, Thailand where I began working for an outdoor education company whose mission focused on delivering fun, dynamic programs to international schools across Asia. I loved being outdoors, and it was in Bangkok that I first fell in love with cycling. I biked everywhere, enamored with the feeling of the city around meâ€¦ but it still wasnâ€™t right. Outdoor education was closer to what I wanted, but I still yearned for a greater connection with the community around me.
After my contract ended, I decided to move back to the US in the summer of 2018. In August, I began the Appalachian Trail as one last Hail-Mary-attempt at some epiphany. It didnâ€™t take long. Out on the trail, I realized that I was happiest whenever I had nothing more than the basic needs of life: food, water, shelter, and my health. I thought that if I could help provide those things for other people, I would be providing a huge service for those in need. Thatâ€™s how I found Bike & Build. As someone who genuinely wants to be of service to the global community, I am looking forward to working to confront and alleviate the Affordable Housing crisis across our nation and learning about other ways I can continue to do so beyond this summer.
Thank you so much for visiting my page.
Eat. Sleep. Bike. Build.
In 2016, Bike & Build will again offer scholarships to riders from at-risk backgrounds in Philadelphia to support their participation in Drift West.
Thank you for supporting our riders! The Bike & Build Scholarship increases access to volunteer service opportunities for young adults from underserved backgrounds in Philadelphia. Recipients will be enrolled in Coastal Drift, Bike & Build's summer regional ride in New England in 2016. For three weeks, riders will pedal as part of a team of 30 young adults. They will travel between multiple affordable housing organizations in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York, raising money and awareness to support these nonprofits. The scholarship is a life-changing opportunity for community engagement for those who may not otherwise have the chance to participate in such an event. Riders will develop skills in teamwork, leadership, and perseverance. This accomplishment will further engage scholarship recipients in service for many years beyond the completion of the trip. Bike & Build opens new doors to these young adults!
Donations will support riders’ required fundraising, the purchase of a bike, necessary cycling gear, and other expenses incurred during the program. After recipients are selected, riders will complete training miles, sweat equity build hours, and other preparations with the support of the Bike & Build Board, staff, sponsors, and community volunteers.
Please see our sponsorship packet (pdf, 1.5mb) to learn more about the success of last year’s scholarship program, the benefits of partnering with Bike & Build, and how to contribute. We appreciate your support!
If you would like to donate now, click below:
You can also donate by check payable to “Bike & Build.” Write “Scholarship” in the memo. Checks can be mailed to Bike & Build – 6153 Ridge Ave – Philadelphia, PA 19128.
Each year, Bike & Build solicits feedback from alumni. One of the most common suggestions is that we expand our outreach to young adults who might not have the resources or network to participate in B&B. Alums, the Bike & Build Scholarship was a direct result of your feedback. You played in a huge role in 2014, fundraising enough to provide one of our scholarship recipients with a bike to complete The Coastal Drift. This year, we are aiming for the Bike & Build network to fund a full scholarship!
We invite you to read more (pdf, 450kb) about the success of last year’s scholarship program the benefits of partnering with Bike & Build, and how to contribute. We appreciate your support!
If you would like to donate now, click below:
You can also donate by check payable to “Bike & Build.” Write “Scholarship” in the memo. Checks can be mailed to Bike & Build – 6153 Ridge Ave – Philadelphia, PA 19128.
This summer, Bike & Build will grant a limited number of scholarships to Drift West riders on the basis of need who demonstrate Bike & Build’s values: young adults with a passion for adventure and a commitment to making their community a better place. The scholarships will engage Philadelphia young adults from underserved backgrounds who may not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in B&B. Learn more here (pdf, 1.2mb).
Bike & Build gave me a personal perspective of how the affordable housing cause affects communities outside of my own in Mt. Airy. It also made me realize that I can do something about it. It’s inspiring to serve others and be a part of the solution.
The most important thing about Bike & Build is that you aren’t just sitting back and talking about helping others. You are actually doing it. I want to keep volunteering with affordable housing nonprofits, and I really want to do another Bike & Build trip. I mean, biking 50 miles is nothing now!