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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.

Since its inception in 2002, Bike & Build has directly involved over 750 young adults and has donated over $1.6M to affordable housing charities to fund projects executed by young people.

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.


Bike & Build was spun off from 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 Interim Director in 2005 until Amelia Hanley was hired. Amelia served as Executive Director from 2005 - July 2008, when she stepped down to attend business school in New York City. Rosemary DiRita, a longtime Habitat for Humanity volunteer and former volunteer coordinator, joined Bike & Build in August 2008.

Chris Webber, a trip leader on the Northern U.S. route in 2005, was hired as Bike & Build's first Program Director in 2006. Chris was tragically hit and killed in a pedestrian accident in New York city in March 2007. Bike & Build maintains a memorial fund in his honor, and raises money for the fund via an alumni only ride that takes place in Florida each winter. Brendan Newman, a participant on Northern U.S. 2006 route, came on board in May 2007 and has been with the organization ever since. Amelia and Brendan continued to run operations until March 2008, when Kristian Sekse was hired as a second Program Director. Coincidentally, Kristian was also a former leader on the Northern U.S. route (2007).

Time Line[]

2002 - Marc Bush established Bike & Build as a registered 501(c)(3) organization with the IRS.
2003 - The first two routes, Northern US and Central US were launched.
2004 - The Providence to Seattle route was added.
2005 - The Southern US and Rocky Mountain routes were to be both added this summer, but the Rocky Mountain route never made it beyond the initial planning stages. Southern U.S. originally ran from Maryland to San Francisco, but following the devastation of the Gulf Coast was rerouted to start in Jacksonville, FL. Jacksonville remains the start location to this day.
2006 - Providence to San Francisco made its first run successfully, bringing the total number of routes to five. 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).
2007 - A sixth new route from Nags Head, NC to San Diego, CA was added
2008 - Boston, MA to Santa Barbara, CA route added.
2009 - Charleston, SC to Santa Cruz, CA route added. SC2SC route is 4,147 miles, and the proceeds from the ride will be used to fund a Blitz Build house, constructed by the participants, in Colorado Springs, CO with Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity (


Bike and Build currently organizes eight cross country routes:

External links[]