Photo by Rhema Gabiela
This summer, Senior Iris Lee will bike across the country to help build homes for families in need.
Lee will cycle on an 11-week Bike and Build journey from Virginia Beach, Florida to Central Beach, Oregon. During the ride, Lee and 30 other other young adults will participate in 12 “build” days to support local housing affiliates to increase the availability of affordable homes.
Lee said she is excited about “getting down and dirty, biking all day, enduring through the sweat … and mainly getting to know those in the community.”
Bike and Build is a nonprofit organization that organizes cross-country cycling trips that benefit the affordable housing crisis.
Lee’s team will ride an average of 66 miles a day, Bike and Build Senior Director of Operations and Development Justin Villere said. While some Bike and Build participants have experience riding long distances, Lee does not.
“I’m really nervous … I don’t really ride a bike, and it’s kind of ironic that I’m going on this trip,” Lee said.
She said the longest bike ride she has previously been on is a 20-minute ride at Venice Beach, but she said she is looking forward to her summer cross-country trip.
“I’m really excited about the challenge of it. I’m definitely going to be training a lot after I finish fundraising,” Lee said.
Lee said she chose the Central U.S. route from Virginia to Oregon mainly because she did not want to go anywhere too cold, hot or humid. Also, she wanted to end in Oregon where she has friends and family.
The Bike and Build organization began in 2003 to give young adults the opportunity to bike across the country while helping others, Villere said.
“There is a unique power in the passion that young adults have to make a difference in an important issue like the affordable housing crisis,” Villere said.
“Everyone should be given the option to live in a livable home and not be forced to reside in substandard places,” Lee said.
Extremely-low income individuals and families spend more than 50 percent of their incomes on housing, according to the National Income Housing Coalition 2015 report. This means these families have few funds for basic nutritional, medical and educational needs.
Participants can select from eight cross-country trips that Bike and Build offers each summer. Each year, about 300 young adults from the ages of 18 to 25 ride with Bike and Build, Villere said.
Villere said one does not need to be an avid cyclist to participate in Bike and Build. Prior to the ride, the organization helps participants prepare for the adventure.
Riders pledge to ride 500 outdoor miles, including one ride that is more than 65 miles, prior to their orientation, according to the Bike and Build website.
Lee said she needs to finish fundraising enough money for her bike before she can begin to train for the ride.
“I think that once I get on the bike and I ride for an hour, I’ll be pretty confident for it,” Lee said.
Students interested in joining a Bike and Build trip this summer can learn more and sign up at bikeandbuild.com.
Donations to support Lee’s ride can be made by visiting her donor page on the Bike and Build website. With a $150 donation, a donor can choose to sponsor one of the 13 states through which Lee will ride: Virgina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Montana, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon.
Follow Bryce Hanamoto on Twitter: @bryce_moto