Bike and Build, a ragtag group of bikers from various locations across the country, does cross country trips every summer with the goal of raising money for affordable housing projects in low-income areas.
The group made its way through Lakeview and was currently on the backend of an 81-day trip, stopping in town a mere week and a half before their trip led them to their final destination: Santa Cruz, Calif.
The group that made it to Lakeview was the South Carolina route and has 28 riders, rides for 81 days, and has raised over $151,000, or a minimum of $4,500 per rider, to go toward affordable housing for people who can’t afford it.
The South Carolina route is named after the state it departed from, and is just one of many.
According to Route Leader Ethan Gehl, the group stops along the way and volunteers with affordable housing organizations. Bike and Build’s main office is based in Philadelphia, but bikers come from all over to participate.
Riders tend to range in age from 18 to 25, and leaders can be up to 28.
Bike and Build gets participants mostly by word of mouth, rarely using promotion if it can help it.
Bicycles are provided by Giant, and once the ride is completed, riders get to keep the bicycle. Therm-a-Rest provides the riders with Therm-a-Rest mats on which the riders sleep.
Routes are planned long before biking season, with stopping points plotted and organized with local hosts from each stopping point.
The South Carolina Route spent the night at Honker Court, making camp there. They also rely heavily on the generosity of their hosts to fill their stomachs. In Lakeview, Subway gave each rider a free six-inch sub, Pizza Villa donated 2 pizzas, and Safeway compensated a $25 gift card, doing their best to show support and hospitality.
Sharing food and living with 27 other people can be difficult, according to Gehl, but it’s also something he and the other riders enjoy.
“When you’re with the same 27 people all the time and you live together, work together, play together” he said, “it’s really cool, but can be extremely challenging.”
Despite the challenges, the memories are enough to last a lifetime. The group becomes like a family, he said, and has a very good, strong dynamic.
The South Carolina Route left Charleston on May 25, and ended in Santa Cruz on Saturday, Aug. 10.