How far can you get in 72 days on a bike?
If you’re Taylor Burdge ’16, the answer is 3,886 miles and 19 states. This past summer, Taylor participated in a program called Bike and Build, which organizes cross-country bicycle trips to benefit affordable housing groups. She raised $12,145 for the cause, which was 270% of her original fundraising goal, and went all the way from Portland, ME to Santa Barbara, CA.
Talk about a full summer.
Essential to the trip were its 13 build days, in which Taylor and her fellow 32 riders pedaled to local housing groups to supply them with manual labor for their projects.
The tasks she and her fellow bikers undertook were not for the faint of heart: reconstructing a convent that would become a 10-family home, weed whacking and building sheds, putting up siding, using a 10-caliber nail gun to build compartments for building supplies, and demolishing a building that was going to be turned into apartment complexes.
“Bike and Build is wild. I have no idea where I’m sleeping tomorrow, what my next meal will be, or even what town I’ll be in. But the constant change keeps everything exciting.”
This was not a slow crew, either. Taylor and her fellow riders would normally get up before 5:30am, and their typical pace was 15-18mph. The group even developed their own vernacular. Riding 100 miles in one day was called a “century ride.” Every three mornings, the bikers would go on a “rando-ride”…their numbers were randomly drawn from a hat, and they would ride with the corresponding group to avoid getting cliquey.
Taylor also kept a blog of her travels over the summer, which I urge you to check out. The posts are moving snapshots of America. If you quickly scan through them, you can watch the climate palpably change as she goes further south and west. You can picture her pack of merry builders battling heat, saddle sores, and flat tires, and hitting speeds of up to 50mph on downhills as they spend five weeks in the middle of the desert.