Bike & Build

Bike & Build

Building a handicap ramp
On one of the first build days, we created ADA handicap ramps with Rebuilding Upstate

Group riding Over summer 2015, I volunteered with Bike & Build, an organization that arranges cross-country cycling trips that aim to involve young adults in affordable housing. Over the course of the summer, we bike cross-country, averaging 70 miles a day (the longest day is 116 miles.)

Some days instead of cycling, we volunteer with local affordable housing organizations (usually Habitat for Humanity). On build days, we work on the build site from 8-4 or so.

You can track my progress with Bike & Build's route tracker. Bike & Build also has a page describing my route. 

Building a handicap rampThe articles below chronicle my journey in photographs. Hover over any photo for a caption or click to enlarge.


August 9th - Wildfire!

Fire trucks behind us
Fire trucks racing along to the wildfire zooming past us.

Wildfires and chocolate. That was today. In the morning, we packed up from camping overnight on the outskirts of Lassen Park, and began our descent (from 4800 feet to 140). Along the way, we passed a small wildfire (with lots and lots of trucks around) and Pumpkinland chocolate, which had delicious chocolates and ice cream (and some free samples!)

August 8th - Lassen National Park

Lake Helen, with Lassen peak in the background
Lassen Peak, 1500 feet up (that's after our climb!). In the foreground is Lake Helen.

According to Google Maps, I climbed 6100 feet today, and descended over 4000! The route took us all through Lassen Volcanic Park, an inactive volcano in California with mud-pots similar to Yellowstone's. It was gorgeous.

August 7th - Alturas to Cassel

Trailer at lunch
The trailer around lunchtime. Final stretch!

Today, we rode from Alturas to Cassel, and ran across a nice lady who set up a beverage stand for Bike and Build. She pulled out a cooler full of assorted cold drinks and water, and invited us over to chat for a bit.

August 6th - Last State!

Me under the Welcome to California state sign
I bicycled to California! How crazy is that?


We made it! After 3800 miles, we made it to our final state.

Today's highlights included:

  • Bicycling to California with legs that still worked
  • Finding a cool thrift shop with lots of old glass
  • Running into a few cool murals
  • Biking from South Carolina to California. Seriously. Who does that?

August 5th - Lasers in the Brush

Moose jigsaw puzzle
Moose on the loose in Valley Falls, OR

Todays highlight was a small gas station in Valley Falls, OR. The owner, a friendly older fellow, had a small high-tech shop set up with a laser cutter and some woodworking tools. He related that he made up woodburned signs for local businesses and crafted small jigsaw puzzles as a side business. There was quite an assortment, from animals to people and abstract patterns.

The ride took us from Wagontire, OR to Lakeview, OR, a total of 85 miles on one road. It's a little dull, but very relaxing to ride on such long untraveled stretches of asphalt.

August 4th - On to Wagontire

The morning's whiteboard
Things to watch out for - Marty - Rattlesnakes - Forest fires - Dysentry - etc - etc


We'd been hearing about it for the better part of the trip. How is was a one-man town, populated only by a grouchy old man who had Bike & Build do odd jobs before letting us stay the night.

None of us were excited to show up, and a bunch of people took roadside naps under shade signs to stave off arrival.

Things were surprisingly normal when we arrived - an older fellow and his son were working on fixing up the 6-room motel in hopes of opening it soon. An attached RV park had a handful of people staying.

Along the way, we passed Riley, a five-man town with a post office, combination gas station/RV park/general store, and a few houses.

August 3rd - Back to School

Old brick building - Lincoln Jr. High
The old place we stayed at. Really cool brick facade.

For our final day off (tomorrow), we stayed in Lincoln Jr. High. At least, it used to be a school. More recently, it's been used as overflow for the town hall, and a bit of a community center. We had the entire gym to unpack into, which was very spacious. Burns itself was small, but fun to walk around in. Helen and I spent the afternoon in a used bookstore and came back with Packing for Mars, Tuesdays with Morrie, and a few other titles.

August 2nd - Ups and Downs

Roadside gravel and the sky
The road had very dark and steeply-banked gravel. I like the contrast and angles.

We continued southward and westward today, coming up and over two small passes. For the next few days, we were mostly in the middle of nowhere, passing through ranching and farming areas with very few people.

Aubgust 1st - Plenty of Nowhere

Side road with grass growing through cracks
Next to the nicely-paved road was this post-apocylaptic looking track. Between the grass and the barren plains, civilization left this place behind.

Today's ride took us out into the middle of nowhere. Our next real destination will be in California, and between here and there, we'll be riding through a lot of empty space and high desert.