Bike and Build NC2SD has ridden through rain (basically all of week one), we’ve traversed the steep roads of Appalachia, we’ve felt the teeth of bitter winds in Oklahoma, we’ve cranked our way through five mountain passes in the majestic Rockies, we’ve looked out in every direction and seen the defining characteristics of FLAT in eastern Arkansas, we’ve spent 12 hours on our vehicles traveling distances upwards of 130 miles, we’ve stood side by side with future homeowners, we’ve danced in the streets - gym floors - on dirt - on sand - we’ve cleaned for each other - for the gracious people who put us up for a night or two-sometimes three, we’ve experienced face-to-face interactions with numerous wonderful people... and in seven days we’ll taste the “other” side of this GREAT country. America is darn good place. We’ve seen it... experienced it! We are just days from completing a great trek across a land rich in culture, people, and spirit. Our travel is memorable, and our experiences are timeless. A favorite quote that has resonated throughout this journey is one from Andre 3000 of Outkast. He says, “When you travel more, you become more.” Friends, I couldn’t agree any more!
From Sea to Shining Sea
For 63 days, Dylan Kelly (’09)pedaled his way from the Tar Heel state over the mountains of Tennessee and the flat plains and plateaus of Arkansas. He laid down tracks through the Breadbasket of America and traveled down the dusty roads of the Grand Canyon state. And at the end of those 63 days, he found himself standing at the edge of an endless horizon of blue water, 3,513 miles away from where he began.
Route taken by Dylan Kelly during his Bike and Build adventure.
From Nags Head, N.C., to San Diego, Calif., Dylan and a group of 31 others spent their summer days biking through eight states; they were on a mission to help others acquire a home of their own. Through a national organization called Bike and Build, Dylan was able to make a difference in the lives of countless people across the United States and, in turn, was given a chance to grow and cultivate his own heart for service.
Bike and Build raises money that enables affordable housing organizations – like Habitat for Humanity – to expand operations and serve even more people in need. Dylan’s group was just one of eight teams that set out this summer on the Bike and Build mission. Through sponsorships and donations, the 210 cyclists raised $420,000.
So what would prompt this 2009 Shorter grad with a degree in English to hop on a bike and ride from sea to shining sea? Determination, a desire to help others and a passion for two-wheeled, sweat-fueled transportation.
“I heard about Bike and Build from a friend of mine,” Dylan said. “I literally went straight to the computer after talking with him, and I looked it up. Immediately, I was drawn to it.”
Some residents of Rome may remember seeing Dylan riding along the roads near Shorter this past spring. “I trained for this from January until May. The Bike and Build program asks that anyone participating in the ride train for at least 500 miles. I don’t know if I made it quite to 500, but I came very, very close,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ll say that I was very well prepared for the trip.”
During the 63-day ride, Dylan and his team helped build homes in six different states. “We never built a home from the ground up, but when we rode into that town, we did whatever was asked of us,” Dylan said. “A lot of times we would come in and lay a foundation for a home or build the framing or nail up the sheetrock on the walls. Whatever was needed, we were happy to do.”
Lodging often depended on the hospitality of others. “We stayed in churches and school gyms, sometimes civic centers. We loved staying at churches because most times, they would provide meals for us. That was really great. Our bathing and showering schedule was pretty hit and miss. Sometimes the places we stayed would have showers; other times not. We had a few times where we just had a hose pipe and spigot.”
Dylan enjoyed spectacular views of the United States landscape during his trip.
Though the idea of living off others’ generosity and sporadic access to a shower might turn some people off from the idea of Bike and Build, Dylan said he wouldn’t trade his experience for the world. “I got so much from this experience. You’re living, working, riding with 30 other people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There’s a lot of value in being a family like that,” Dylan said. “That aspect was so rich.”
Dylan, a former Shorter Hawks football player and aspiring high school teacher, is now back home in Lawrenceville, trying to ease back into a routine. “You don’t realize just how different things are when you don’t go home every night. I am still trying to adjust to normal life.”
When asked if he’s ready to bike and build from coast to coast again, Dylan said, “It’s not out of the question, but right now I am concentrating on finding a job.” But he doesn’t bat an eye when he says, “totally, 100-percent, I would recommend the program to anyone who loves to travel, loves to bike and has a desire to really help others that are in need. It’s a great feeling.”