Bike and Build

Bike and Build

Bike and Build is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which organizes cross-country cycling trips to benefit the affordable housing cause in the United States. Participants on Bike and Build trips are of ages 18-24, and may or may not have previous cycling or volunteer experience. Rides have up to 34 participants (including 4 designated leaders), and take 8-9 weeks to travel across the United States. Bike and Build riders spend 8-10 days en route building houses.

Riders are required to raise $4000 each before starting: part is used to run the trips, and the remainder is donated to affordable housing organizations. Additional donations are sometimes collected en route. Some trips donate their money to specific organizations or chapters, and others work on a grant system. Under the grant system, groups benefiting the affordable housing cause can apply for grants through Bike and Build. The grant applications are delivered to the grant-based trips during the ride, and the riders on those trips vote on which groups receive money, and how much to allocate to each group.

Participants need not have previous building or cycling experience, or even a bicycle; Bike and Build provides the bicycle, which is the participant's to keep at the end of the trip. Riders are required to complete eight hours sweat equity working with affordable housing groups before beginning the trip, and are strongly encouraged to go on training rides.

Life on the Road

As the overwhelming majority of Bike and Build participants are college students, the trips are scheduled to fit within the confines of collegiate summer breaks. The trips depart between the middle of May and the middle of June, and finish approximately two months after the departure date.

Most days during the 8-9 weeks of each trip are spent riding. Participants ride an average of about 70 miles per day. Overnight stays are arranged in advance of the trip, and are usually at churches or other community centers. Occasionally, the overnight stay will be outdoors. After breakfast and packing up, riders perform a quick cleanup of the overnight location before heading out. Each ride has a van and trailer to carry the riders' gear. Once the trailer has been loaded with everybody's gear, one of the trip coordinators (the duty of driving the van is rotated between the four coordinators) drives it out and sets up a rest stop on the route where riders break for lunch. After all the riders have eaten lunch, the van and trailer continue on to the destination for the day, or to set up a second lunch stop, on longer days.

Once arrived at the daily destination, riders usually have a couple of hours of free time before dinner. Showers are available either on-site, or as arranged with a local athletic center or school where shower facilities are available. Dinner is either provided by the overnight hosts, or prepared by the riders, and is often preceded or followed by a short presentation given by the riders about Bike and Build and the affordable housing cause.

There are two types of non-riding days: build days, and days off. In either case, the usual routine is broken, as participants need not pack up their bags in the morning. During build days, participants are taken to a local build site where they make direct contributions of effort towards the affordable housing cause by assisting at the site.


The program is modeled after the Yale Habitat Bicycle Challenge, and was founded by Marc Bush, a Yale alumnus and HBC participant. He was also the director of Bike and Build from 2003-2005. Shaunna Thomas was the director in 2005. Amelia Hanley and Chris Webber (Northern US '05) have been the most recent directors.

The first two routes, Northern US and Central US were launched in 2003. In 2004, the Providence to Seattle route was added. 2005 was to see the addition of two more routes, Southern US and Rocky Mountain, but the Rocky Mountain route never made it beyond the initial planning stages. For 2006, a fifth route, Providence to San Francisco, made its first run successfully. It was the first Bike and Build route to share an origin (Providence) and a destination (San Francisco) with another route (Providence to Seattle and Southern US, respectively). Bike and Build has added an additional route, based out of Chapel Hill, NC and running to San Diego for the 2007 season. For 2008, the new route runs from Boston, MA to Santa Barbara, CA.


Bike and Build currently organizes seven cross country routes:

* [ Northern U.S. (NUS) - Portsmouth, NH to Vancouver, BC, CA]
* [ Providence to Seattle (P2S) - Providence, RI to Seattle, WA]
* [ Providence to San Francisco (P2SF) - Providence, RI to San Francisco, CA]
* [ Central US (CUS) - Virginia Beach, VA to Cannon Beach, OR]
* [ Southern U.S. (SUS) - Jacksonville, FL to San Francisco, CA]
* [ NC to San Diego (NC2SD)- Manteo, NC to San Diego, CA]

External links

* [ Bike and Build Web Site]

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