The FAQ On The

Drift West

All You Need To Know


Looking to find out more about the Drift West?

Here's the 411.

There's a LOT to know about B&B before you apply. Please take 10 minutes to go over this info as it should answer the majority of your questions.

About Drift West

What's new with Drift West for 2015?

Everything! This trip is hot off the fun press.  Our previous mid-summer ride was a two week jaunt from Richmond to Philadelphia, so Drift is a whole new world. A dazzling place you (and we) never knew.  The vanguard:

  1. As alluded to above: New roads! New cities! New builds! New glory!
  2. Drift West specific jerseys, tees, and fundraising materials.
  3. Drifters will distribute money in a similar manner to the cross country trips- via a competitive grant process, rider designated grants, on the road donations, and pre-determined grants.
  4. Incentives to recruit your friends. Each person you recruit earns you $100 towards your fundraising, and each person they recruit earns you $50.  It’s a triangle, alright?? A totally legitimate triangle. Not a pyramid.  
  5. The option to fundraise extra to get an official Bike & Build bike that is yours to keep after the trip is over. 
  6. 2015 Drift West participants get to skip the lottery for 2016 cross country trips. 

Why is Bike & Build running shorter trips? 

There are several reasons why we're offering a shorter trip, but primarily we want to give young adults who can’t take an entire summer off from work a chance to participate in our program and learn more about affordable housing. In addition, we are incredibly lucky to have such an active base of alumni, without whom we would never have grown to where we are today. We created this ride to provide a way for them to stay connected with the organization, and live the Bike & Build life once again (if only for a few weeks).

How is Drift West different from Bike & Build's typical cross country trips?

For the most part, Drift West will run and feel very much like a typical day on one of the cross country routes. There is still a support van that will carry everyone's gear, you will stop and build along the way, and the days on the bike are yours to do what you please. There are some smaller changes (bike policy, no camping, etc.) that make the short route logistically possible, but otherwise it is very much the same. 

What are the requirements to apply?

1) You must be between the ages of 18 and 25. Bike & Build alumni are not restricted by this requirement

2) Agree to meet the minimum fundraising requirements

3) Have health insurance for the duration of the trip (if you do not have health insurance, you can purchase "event insurance" to cover you just for the trip)

Are there any age restrictions for participants?

Yes. We are only accepting applications for individuals who are between the ages of 18 and 25 as of July 1st, 2015. If you are a Bike & Build alumni and have completed a cross country trip with us before, there is no age restriction to participate in Drift West.

What are the fundraising requirements?

For the entire three weeks, the fundraising minimum is $2,250. If you sign up for weeks one and two (Portland to Bremerton) you must raise $1,500. If you sign up for Bremerton to Bellingham, the minimum is $1,100. To apply to the program, there is a $200 application fee, which does not count towards your fundraising total.

How do cyclists raise the money?

In order to participate in a Bike & Build event, each rider agrees to raise a set minimum in donations to our organization. Cyclists raise this money in a variety of ways, but by far the most popular is a letter writing campaign. Cycling on a stationary bike outside of a bike shop and bar nights where riders get a percentage of the money have also become popular. We're here to support fundraising efforts and give riders innovative ideas on how to reach - and exceed - the fundraising requirement.

What's the deal with recruiting friends?

For every person that signs up for the trip because you told them about it we'll credit your fundraising account $100. For every person they tell we'll credit them $100 and also credit you $60. So if you sign up 2 people (2 @ $100) and they sign up 2 people each (4 @ $50) you just knocked $400 off your minimum fundraising requirement. It's a win-win for everyone: you don't need to sweat the fundraising as much, and we fill spots that may otherwise be empty. The small print: 1) Fundraising credit will be rescinded if the rider(s) you recruit do not participate. 2) If you recruit a person for the one or two week options- your credit will be $50.

So I get to skip the 2015 lottery?

Thinking about doing a full cross country Bike & Build trip but want to get your feet wet with Drift West first?  Anybody that takes part in the 2015 Drift West will be able to skip the lottery for spots on Bike & Build's 2016 cross country routes.

This does *NOT* mean that you automatically get a spot on a cross country trip!  It simply means that you automatically "win" the lottery and move right to the application approval stage.  As with all our returning participants, keep in mind that your actions on Drift West will directly influence your chances of getting on a cross country trip.  If you have a negative attitude or a lack of respect for the group/the organization/the rules/our partners/etc it will adversely affect your chances for a future ride.

Is Drift West a professionally led cycling tour? 

No. There are four peer leaders assigned to the ride. All four are Bike & Build alumni who have previously completed one of our cross country trips. They have devoted endless time and effort to the preparation and production of your trip and will be in contact to make sure that you meet your deadlines and are training. They are not your parents, but they are responsible for your safety and for enforcing Bike & Build policies and standards and must be treated with respect.

Where does the money raised by Drift West go?

Drift West will allocate funds in four ways:

  1. Competitive grant process - The group will receive and review grant applications and make funding decisions via group consensus
  2. Rider designated grants - Each rider is afforded $250 to donate to an affordable housing organization of their choice
  3. On the road donations - As a thank you for allowing us to stay with them, our hosts can designate an affordable housing organization to which Bike & Build will donate $100 in the host’s name.
  4. Pre-arranged contributions - Along the route, there are particular non-profit organizations that help produce CD.  A portion of trip proceeds will be reserved for them.

The remainder of the money raised will help offset Bike & Build organizational expenses.

How do I apply?

Click here to access our application. If you are a Bike & Build alumnus and are interested in leading the trip, please check out the job description on the application page. Please note that we are hiring leaders to lead the entire trip. You cannot sign up for only one week as a leader.

I see riders can apply for a scholarship. How can I do that?

Bike & Build offers a limited number of scholarships on the basis of need to young adults who otherwise would not have the ability to participate in Bike & Build. Riders from the Philadelphia area are preferred. See the application for further details.

About Bike & Build

What is Bike & Build?

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 18-25. 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.

What events does Bike & Build produce?

In addition to Drift West, Bike & Build also runs 8 cross country trips and a winter alumni ride.

Is Bike & Build affiliated with Habitat for Humanity International?

Bike & Build is an independent organization and has no formal affiliation with Habitat for Humanity International or any other volunteer affordable housing group. Bike & Build supports a variety of affordable housing organizations throughout the country. In the past Bike & Build has worked closely with and made contributions to many Habitat for Humanity affiliates along our events' routes.

How does Bike & Build disburse event proceeds? What organizations does Bike & Build contribute to?

To date, Bike & Build has contributed over $4.5 million of rider raised money to hundreds of different affordable housing organizations across the United States.  In 2015, we plan to contribute over $600,000 distributed in the following four ways:

  1. On the Road: Over 400 community groups host our riders each summer.  Bike & Build will make a donation on behalf of each host to an affordable housing group in that local community. 
  2. Grant Program: Contributions are also allocated through a competitive grant application process.  The cyclists then evaluate the applications and – as a group – decide which proposals to fund.
  3. Partner Contributions: In some cases, Bike & Build may partner with a particular affordable housing group to produce our events. We then reserve a portion of a particular routes’ fundraising for these organizations. 
  4. Rider-designated Beneficiaries:   Cross country participants will have $500 to pledge to any affordable housing organization of their choice. 

Before the Trip

What if I can’t raise the money?

You can raise the money! It seems like a lot to raise, but you’ll be surprised how eager people will be to donate when they hear about what you’re doing. Once you register, Bike & Build will send you a comprehensive Participant Manual chock full of tips and advice on how to be a successful fundraiser. We’ll be here to support your fundraising efforts the whole way through – whether it be by suggesting innovative ideas and strategies to raise money, providing materials for you to distribute, or helping you keep track of your donors. You’ll be surprised at your potential to go above and beyond the fundraising minimum. That said, the bottom line is that Bike & Build must have received the fundraising minimum for you to participate in our events. If the money isn’t in prior to orientation, you cannot ride. But we’ll work with you to make sure that this doesn’t happen.

Will Bike & Build provide me with a bicycle?

Yes, if you want. Participants on Drift West will have the option to receive a bicycle if the pledge to increase their fundraising goal by an additional $700 (plus $50 shipping). In 2015 the stock bicycle is he Giant Defy 3 or the Giant Avail 3 (the women’s model). provided by Bokoo Bikes. In addition, riders are eligible for bicycle upgrades and other gear discounts when dealing with Bokoo. If you're interested in raising more please contact Brendan directly via e-mail ( or phone (267-331-8488). Once we get you set up with a higher fundraising total we'll put you through the same bike ordering process as our cross country riders - we'll order it when you hit $2000 and pass our online safety quiz.

How much will I need to spend on bike gear?

For the cross country rides, most of our participants are first-time entrants into the sport of road biking. However for the regional ride, we do expect those who sign up to have at least a little bit of experience biking, and probably already own most of the gear they would need. If you do not own a bike, the sky is the limit for how much you can spend. To participate in Drift West, you could find a used bike in good condition for $400-$700 (or $900-$1,100 new). Getting the rest of the gear (shorts, shoes, clipless pedals, helmet, sunglasses, etc.) can add up quickly, but if you take the time to bargain hunt or wait for things to go on sale, you can get most of the things you need pretty cheaply. You should be able to do pretty well with about $500 (not including the bike), though you could get by with less, and certainly could spend more. Once you enroll we’ll give you the low-down on what you’ll need and where to find it.

What other expenses should I expect to incur?

Our cross-country participants obviously will spend far more on their bikes and other gear, mostly because they will wear things out or things will break. Since Drift West is so short, we would hope that nothing would break or wear out on your bicycle. You may chose to buy extra food and spend money on entertainment along the route, so expecting to spend $40-$80 a week on incidentals is not unreasonable to budget for. Shipping your bike (and yourself) back home will obviously be an additional cost you should expect to cover.

If I raise the money, then can't go on the trip, will my donations be refunded?

First of all, we hope that you won’t have to leave our program, though we do understand that it may happen. If you do leave Drift West, all money that you have raised will be considered a donation to Bike & Build; it will not be refunded to donors. Barring extenuating circumstances, all money raised can be used for a 2015 event only, and will not be carried over to next year.

How much do I need to know about affordable housing efforts?

The more you know, the better. One of the goals of Bike & Build is to raise awareness of and interest in affordable housing efforts, especially among the young adult population. When you’re cycling or fundraising, you’ll be acting as ambassadors of Bike & Build and the organizations that we work with and support. Donors, reporters, and townspeople will be asking you all sorts of questions about these groups. Naturally, people will expect you to know about the organization you’re dedicating your summer to. When you sign up we'll send you some materials to start getting acquainted with the issue, but the best way to learn is through hands-on experience working on a project with a volunteer housing group. Each rider on the cross country trips is required to spend ten hours pre-trip working on the construction of an affordable home with a local housing organization. We do not have such a requirement on Drift West, but we do STRONGLY urge you to spend some time on a build site if you have never done so before the trip.

How do I apply?

Click here to access our application. If you are a Bike & Build alumni and are interested in leading the trip, please check out the job description on the application page. Please note that we are hiring leaders to run both sessions. You cannot sign up for only one week as a leader.

On the Road

Where do we stay at night?

For the most part Bike & Build groups will spend their nights at churches, community centers, and schools along their routes. Bike & Build will provide Therm-A-Rests to each rider at orientation. You should bring your own sleeping bag or other alternative.

What if I get sick on the road?

Flus and colds will happen on the road. If you’re not feeling good enough to cycle, you can take the day off and ride in the support van. For more serious illnesses, Bike & Build leaders will locate a doctor and make sure that you receive appropriate care. For your health and safety, our leaders reserve the right to insist that you see a doctor or refrain from cycling.

What if I get into an accident?

Your health and safety are our top priorities, and we hope that you don't get into an accident. However, accidents can happen regardless of how attentive and safe you are. Bike & Build leaders will be certified in First Aid and trained to act as first responders. The “sweep” rider and support van will always carry a first aid kit and cell phone. If appropriate, our van will take you to the closest medical facility.

What will we eat? Are there provisions for vegetarians?

Breakfast and lunch are pretty straightforward. You could expect cereal, muffins and/or bagels, and fruit for breakfast. A typical lunch includes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pretzels, fruit, and cookies. Often, dinner will be a potluck meal provided by our hosts. Most are wonderful and all are adequate. Our hosts will know that some of our riders are vegetarians and will (hopefully!) offer at least one vegetarian option.

How much free time will I have?

Well, it all depends on your definition of “free time.” If by free time you mean leisurely biking at your own pace and taking the chance to stop and check out cool things you’ll pass, then you’ll have tons of free time. Basically, you’re free all day; we’ll expect you to arrive at lunch at a reasonable hour, and then at the night’s destination by four o’clock. Free time in the evenings varies, and depends on what's on tap that day. You may be expected to gather for dinner with the group, make a slideshow presentation about Bike & Build and affordable housing issues, or give a bike-safety clinic to children. Most days you’ll have chores to do – be it grocery shopping, doing group laundry, or tuning your bike. In short, you’ll have some restrictions and responsibilities that you’ll have to juggle, but you’ll have plenty of free time too.

Will I be able to get mail while on the road?

There will be one mail drop while out on the road.  Drift West stays in fairly population dense areas and if you need to buy any gear for your bike, there will be access to bike shops along the route.

What if I have to leave in the middle of the trip?

Since Drift West is so short, we expect our participants to stay with the group for the duration of the event. If an emergency arises during the trip and you must leave, we will do our best to accommodate you. Bike & Build policies regarding early withdrawal from the trip are outlined in detail in the Participant Manual.

Will the whole group ride together?

No. Typically, you’ll cycle in small groups of three or four riders of your own pace. Riding in large packs is unsafe.

Will we stop to build homes? Do I need to have any construction experience?

Drift West will have scheduled Build Days where, instead of cycling, the group will spend a day working on the construction of an affordable home. Don’t worry if you don’t have much construction experience – many housing organizations are used to working with unskilled labor. If you do have experience, that’s great – your expertise will be put to use.

How much money should I bring?

Bike & Build will be sure that you have three good meals a day, a place to sleep, and that all necessary incidentals are taken care of. Other expenses (gear, ice cream, movies, etc.) are up to you. Spending habits vary from person to person; $40-$80 per week should do for most riders.

Will I have chores or responsibilities on the road?

Yes! Though there are four leaders, the success of the trip largely depends upon the contributions of each and every rider while on the road. Each rider will be assigned to a particular chore group for the week. These chores will include everything from "cleaning overnight location” to "shopping for food".  Each trip acts as a large family and each member must contribute to accomplish all of the daily tasks. The chores are not always fun, but in the end they are all part of the adventure.

Will we do laundry during the trip?

Absolutely. We will do laundry every three riding days.

End of Trip

What happens when I get to our destination? How will I get back home?

You'll be responsible for arranging your own transportation back home (you could always bike back -- it's happened before!) and any accommodations after the conclusion of your Drift tenure. There will be some odds and ends we'll help you take care of such as boxing up and shipping your bike, cleaning and returning equipment, and debriefing. We will not be able to run a van shuttle down to the start point to retrieve any cars, but there may be an opportunity for you to set-up a car pool with other riders on your route. Your trip leaders will help coordinate this.

When does the trip officially end? 

The first week of Drift West officially ends the day of the Salem build. After the build day in New York City, Drift West concludes at 11am on Sunday.

Will Bike & Build be able to drive me to the airport?

We will assist as best we can by getting you to public transportation.

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