Editor's note: Bike and Build is a nonprofit project through which college students raise awareness for affordable housing and provide volunteer work and donations. In May a group of 30 bikers left Nags Head for a 65-day ride across the United States, ending 3,503 miles later in San Diego.
CHAPEL HILL -- The journey began on the beach. There I met 30 college-age students with whom I would be spending two months. We spent two days learning our responsibilities and what to expect on the trip. After orientation we headed to the beach for a wheel-dipping ceremony where we dipped our back tires in the Atlantic Ocean to signify the start of our cross-country ride. Our ride through North Carolina consisted of relatively short rides to allow our bodies to get used to riding every day. Bike and Build has donated more than $1.1 million to affordable housing causes. Bikers on our trip had to each raise $4,000 before starting on the journey.In Chapel Hill, we spent two days building for Orange County Habitat for Humanity. Despite being rained out the first day, we were able to frame an entire house.Our first real biking challenge came when we began climbing the Appalachian Mountains. The views the Blue Ridge Parkway were spectacular. Many riders had never been in North Carolina, and they were surprised how beautiful it is. I really enjoyed all of the climbing. Descending was definitely an adventure.After biking through the hills of Tennessee we hit a lot of flat land through Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Riding in open places with a lot of head wind can definitely become mentally draining, but I still enjoyed how beautiful the ride was. Our longest single-day ride of the trip was 124 miles into Colorado Springs, Colo. It was nice to have a day off in Colorado Springs to get a little break. We were able to build with Habitat for Humanity while enjoying a gorgeous view of Pikes Peak. Leaving Colorado Springs, we began climbing through the Rocky Mountains. We enjoyed riding through the Garden of the Gods and then we climbed through some of the most beautiful country I have ever experienced. One morning we rode on the "Million Dollar Highway," a road built in a tiny valley on the side of 1,000-foot cliffs. The ride was spectacular.After leaving the Rockies we entered Arizona by way of the Four Corners. In Arizona we rode through Monument Valley as well as the Grand Canyon. We spent two days riding through the desert in California before reaching our destination: San Diego. Riding down to the beach was surreal. After two months of biking we had finally reached the Pacific Ocean. We dipped our front tires in the ocean and then ran into the water for a quick swim. Reaching the coast was probably the most bittersweet moment of my life. While it signified the completion of our trip, it also meant saying goodbye to my new group of friends. We grew very close on our trip together, and we spent the last week dreading the end. We have made friendships that will last a lifetime.