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About Bike & Build

Before Applying

Before the Trip

On the Road

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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 fundraising cycling trips, open to participants ages 18-26 (or 29 for leaders). 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.

Where do the trips go?
Bike & Build produces eight cross-country events: Central United States, Northern United States, Providence to Seattle, Providence to California, Southern United States, North Carolina to San Diego, Maine to Santa Barbara and South Carolina to Santa Cruz. Check out each individual trip for complete itineraries, or see our Route Network page to compare trips.

Do I need any previous cycling/volunteering experience?
You do NOT need significant cycling or volunteering experience before signing up. Many of our riders have never biked more than 10 miles at one time before they start training for Bike & Build. By the time you complete your required training miles for Bike & Build, you will have enough cycling experience to feel comfortable on the road. As for volunteering, all you need is a passion to make a difference and a willingness to get your hands dirty on the construction sites. Literally. There can be some muddy, mucky, dirty jobs that need our help. Our build partners frequently work with volunteers with limited construction experience; they’ll provide day-of training and supervision to ensure our safety and effectiveness.

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 is the money raised?
In order to participate in Bike & Build, each rider agrees to raise a minimum of $4,500 in donations to our organization. Cyclists raise this money in a variety of ways. We're here to support fundraising efforts and give riders innovative ideas on how to reach - and exceed - the fundraising requirement.

How does Bike & Build disburse event proceeds? What organizations does Bike & Build contribute to?
Bike & Build allocates the majority of the proceeds from our events through either pre-arranged contributions or a competitive grant application process.

For certain tours, Bike & Build will work with a particular organization to produce our events; in these cases, a portion of the trip proceeds is reserved for our partners.

For events produced solely by Bike & Build, the proceeds are distributed through a grant program. Throughout the winter and spring our organization and participants will solicit grant applications from affordable housing organization that work with young adults or student groups. During the course of our events, Bike & Build participants will review and evaluate the proposals, and - as a group - vote upon which proposals our organization will fund.

Are you coming through my town?
Maybe. Check out our route network to see how close we’ll come to you.

Where can I find more information about affordable housing?
In the coming months we hope to add resources to our site to educate our visitors about affordable housing issues. Please check back with us soon.

Is Bike & Build a professionally led cycling tour?
No. There are four peer leaders assigned to each ride. Though many of them have not led cycling trips before, they have devoted endless time and effort to the preparation and production of your trip. They will be in contact with you shortly to make sure that you are meeting your deadlines and starting to train. 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.

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Before Applying

How much money will I need to raise?
The current fundraising for our cross country routes is $4500. You are able to start fundraising as soon as you're assigned a trip.

What are the age restrictions?
We accept riders up to 26 and leaders up to 29, as of May 1st of the riding year. So if you turn 27 prior to May 1st you can't be a rider. Similarly, if you turn 30 prior to May 1st you can't be a leader.

Why do you have these restrictions?
Bike & Build’s mission is to engage young adults in addressing the country’s affordable housing crisis. We aim to foster the development of these individuals into service-minded citizens engaged in their communities long after their Bike & Build experience. Accordingly, we tailor much of our program to their leadership and skills development.

Oh no, I'm too old! Do you make any exceptions or know of any similar organizations?
Sorry, but we make no exceptions. A quick Google search will turn up a wealth of other opportunities.

Will my medical condition disqualify me from participating with B&B?
All riders are required to receive medical clearance via a physical from their personal doctor. Bike & Build reserves to right to restrict participation of any perspective riders if their participation is deemed unsafe or medically dangerous. Additionally, riders are required to prove they are covered by a medical insurance policy while on the trip.

Do you accommodate dietary restrictions?
We request that our hosts offer at least one vegetarian option, though this can not always be guaranteed. It is unlikely there will be significant vegan options at most meals and you will be responsible for the additional costs. If you have any other dietary restrictions please let us know and we will try to accommodate your needs to the best of our ability, though please understand that special diets will generally require a good deal amount of extra work, expense and cooperation on your end. We have had several riders participate despite having peanut and gluten allergies. Again, we try to accomodate reasonable requests though due to the nature of having most of our meals generously donated by hosts and supporters we don't always have control over this.

Does my application fee go towards my fundraising?
No. The $200 application fee pays for your Thermarest, one Bike & Build jersey, and other gear that essential for your trip’s success on the road. We try, as much as possible, to earmark the money you fundraise for the grants Bike & Build makes to our affordable housing partners. Keep in mind that your fundraising also covers our programming, which is carrying out our mission of engaging youth and spreading awareness of the affordable housing issue.

When will the route dates be finalized?
Tentative route dates will be posted prior to applications going live, though they will not be finalized until winter. These dates serve as guides, and generally trips don't significantly chinage their start/end dates but many stops in the middle may change.

How do I apply?
Click here to access our application.

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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 binder 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.

How much will I need to spend on bike gear?
The sky’s the limit with how much you could spend on cycling gear. (Do I need those $300 titanium clipless pedals, or will the $35 steel ones do?) You should be able to do pretty well with about $600, 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. Also, Bike & Build will try to negotiate discounts with suppliers.

What other expenses should I expect to incur?
We hope to give you a realistic expectation of the expenses you'll have as a Bike & Build participant. In 2011, Bike & Build participants spent these average amounts on the following items: cycling gear ($625), bike maintenance en-route ($200), travel to trip start and from trip finish (varies), bike shipping from trip finish ($75 - higher for riders on Northern US route which ends in Canada), spending money during program ($50-60/wk).

Will Bike & Build provide me with a bicycle?
Yes. Bike & Build will provide each of its participants with a new bicycle suitable for use in our events, in accordance with our Bicycle Policies. At the conclusion of the trip, the bike is yours to keep. The brand and model of the bike will be determined at the sole discretion of Bike & Build. Participants wishing to ride their own bikes may petition to do so on a case-by-case basis and will receive a fundraising credit. You will be responsible for any costs incurred in maintaining your bikes, including replacement parts or, if warranted, the services of a professional mechanic.

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 a trip all money that you have raised will be considered a donation to Bike & Build; it will not be refunded to donors.

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 is required to spend ten hours working on the construction of an affordable home with a local housing organization. Additionally, before the trip begins, each rider will prepare a 15 minute presentation about some aspect of affordable housing to give during the trip.

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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. You should also expect to spend a number of nights camping out. Bike & Build will provide therma-rests, tents, and other necessary camping equipment, but you should bring your own sleeping bag.

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. Please see our Commitment to Safety section demonstrating the precautions we take with our riders. 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 necessary, 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, fresh fruit, and juice 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 offer at least one vegetarian option; the group will supplement any shortages.

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 require you to be 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?
Yes! You’ll be able to receive mail and care packages about once a week through designated mail drops. We’ll let you know the details about this closer to the trip.

What if I have to leave in the middle of the trip?
Bike & Build participants are expected to stay with the group for the duration of our events. If you know that you will have to leave the trip for a few days (family occasion, wedding, etc.), join the trip late, or leave early, please let us know and we will work out the details. 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 detailed in the Participant Manual.

Will the whole group ride together?
No. In fact, the only times that everyone will ride as a group are the first and last few miles. 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?
Each trip will have multiple scheduled en-route 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.

What expenses does Bike & Build cover? What am I expected to cover?
See our other FAQ here and here for pre-summer and trip expenses. Specifically, we’ll 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 (bike gear, snacks, pay showers at camp grounds, movies, additional toiletries, etc.) are up to you. Spending habits vary widely from person to person. If you stop at diners and restaurants every single day, expect to bring more money to cover this. Only you can really know your spending habits. Many people finish the trip spending less than $40 a week, but others will spend over $100. On average, $50-$80 per week should do for most riders.

How much money should I bring?
As a general rule of thumb, Bike & Build will pay for any cost you incur which is necessary to riding across the country. We’ll 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 (newpapers, ice cream, movies, etc.) are up to you. Spending habits vary from person to person; $40-$60 per week should do for most riders.

What happens when I get to our destination? How will I get back home?
Bike & Build will host a reception for your group on the evening of your arrival in the destination city, and we encourage you to invite friends and family to join us. We'll arrange for two nights of accommodations at your destination and encourage you to hang out and explore the place that's been on your mind for the previous ten weeks. 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 two nights we provide. 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.

Bike & Build will host a reception for your group when you arrive in the destination city, and we encourage you to invite friends and family to join us.

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 that will rotate on a weekly basis. 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.

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