Friday, May 31, 2013

Day 10 - Greenville Build Day!

Build day today!!! I am so tired so this will not be a long post! We spent all day today putting "soffit" (aka foffit) and "fascia" on a Habitat house. These are two new words I added to my construction dictionary. To us, fascia sounded like the color fuchsia except more sparkly. Turns out that these things are plastic pieces similar to siding that go on the house to make it look pretty and put together. Here are some pics:

The soffit crew on the scaffolding

Sarah falling asleep at lunch. 

Dinner tonight was a home cooked meal at a Bike and Build alumni's parents' house. It was delicious! It was pretty weird to be in a house. 

After we got back to the gym we're sleeping in tonight, we played some intense knockout which turned into basketball which turned into volleyball which turned into keep the volleyball off the ground it doesn't matter how you do it and finally turned into soccer. I don't remember laughing so hard in my entire life. 

65 miles of hills tomorrow! My quads are ready!! Goodnight!

Shout out to my friend, Max, who climbed over 10,000 feet today on his route! That is intense! Check out his blog at! He is riding from Nags Head, NC to San Diego, CA this summer!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 9 - Newberry to Greenville (72 miles)

Did you know that donkeys love Peach Rings? That is just another fun fact that emerged from today's ride as we passed through some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen. The weather was warm but overcast which was a welcome break from the hot sun that we've experienced over the past week.  We passed by golden wheat fields and rolling pastures dotted with farmhouses. As we coasted down a hill, with the beautiful countryside sprawled out for miles on either side of us, Brian, who was behind me shouted, in awe of the stunning landscape. I sat up on my bike and spread my arms wide trying to take in as much of the air as I could. What an incredible feeling it is to feel the pavement rolling underneath your bike and to feel the wind rush over your arms! I wish I had pictures but it would have been difficult to capture the moment. 

We traveled in a fast line and were all amazed at how quickly we covered ground. Lacy, Brian, Austin, Josh, and I took turns leading the group and breaking the wind. Soon we arrived at lunch and enjoyed our energy-rich food concoctions underneath the only shade we could find. 

Eating lunch in a shady spot. 

Granola bar PB&J

Today was a challenging 72ish mile ride through some tough hills. I love hills because they take a lot of strategy. Plus they build hulk-size muscles on your quads. We caught glimpses of theAppalachian  Mountains as we entered Greenville but I don't believe we'll be climbing any serious mountains until the Rockies. Still, they were exhilarating to see on the horizon!

At mile 50, we took a much needed fountain bath. 

Brian enjoying the water. 

Laini really enjoying the water. 

Laini accidentally jumped in with her phone in her pocket and went across the street to a restaurant to DM some rice to put it in to get the water out. As she entered this classy restaurant sopping wet, the restaurant manager beckoned her over. He pointed across the street and asked her, "Are you with them?" She turned around to see all the rest of us frolicking in the fountain like we were all insane. "Yes, yes I am." Then he gave her a bag of rice. 

Everyone was pooped upon arriving at the host. We all took showers and naps and recuperated on our thermarests on the gym floor. Later, our host treated us to dinner at the favorite lic restaurant, "Harvey's." I ate my first ever country fried steak. It was awesome and definitely full of energy (aka calories.)

Build day tomorrow! Our bodies will need a rest from riding so we are all pumped to be building tomorrow! It should be another wonderful Bike and Build day. 

Hawa posing in front of sleeping Dan. Creeper picture alert!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Day 8 - Tattoo Wednesday and Columbia to Newberry

Do you ever get those moments when you just stop and look around you and feel perfectly at peace with the world? You're so happy that your head is absolutely clear of all worries and you feel so weightless that if you jumped you might float into space. I felt this way as I walked from the park near our host site to the gym where we'll be sleeping tonight. I listened to the laughter of my friends as they balanced precariously on teeter totters. I rounded the corner and saw people working diligently on their bikes, cleaning the chains and making adjustments to their saddles. I walked into the gym and saw the thermarests scattered all over the floor, some with people on them updating blogs and writing in journals. Others were sharing pictures and videos from the day. One person strummed a guitar and the sound echoed through the gym along with people laughing and talking quietly. 

Just another day in the life of a Bike and Builder. I find it extremely hard to describe how incredible this trip is. It is one of those things that you have to experience to be able to truly understand. A week ago, all of the people here were perfect strangers and now we are like a family. It seems as though a bike is not simply an instrument to get from "here" to "there." Traveling by bike, you not only get to experience the contours of the land, but you get to know the people you're riding with so deeply. It's amazing how a bicycle and reveal the most beautiful traits (and quirks) in a person. And when all of these traits come to the surface in a group of people so willing to serve others and make a difference, an amazing team is created. 

Anyways, that was my attempt to describe what it's like to be here. Hopefully, I will be able to give you a better idea as the summer goes on. 

Today was a 50 mile day. There was beautiful weather, hot and sunny with minimal wind. Marcus bought a bunch of tattoos for "tattoo Wednesday." It's usually supposed to be on Tuesday but he couldn't find any yesterday. We got pretty creative with them:

Laini with bicep tattoos. 

Skull calves

Kat and I with hickies

Our trailer was broken today so we had to carry our lunches with us and/or DM our lunches. My group scored 20% off at Subway. I also bought some Peach Rings which are ah-mazing when you're riding. 

Sooooo delicious!

We passed by a lake so naturally we jumped in for a swim. We got there at 10 but the beach didn't open until 11. Luckily, we sweet-talked the guard and told him we had just climbed a bunch of hills and that the lake would feel so nice. He caved! :)

We took our time today since we isn't have much mileage. We made a lot of pitstops and took a lot of pictures. We stopped at a thrift shop. The lady was really friendly and Travis scored some 50 cent sunglasses and a 10 cent saddle bag. What a deal!!

They probably wouldn't be able to fix my tanlines...

That's all folks! 72 miler tomorrow and I am pooped. Night!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day 7 - Sumter to Columbia (46 miles)

Today was another perfect Bike and Build day. This morning we were awoken at 5:30 to the beautiful sounds of the Backstreet Boys. Any early morning grumpiness was serenaded away by the words of "Larger Than Life" and "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely." We ate a quick breakfast of cereal and cinnamon rolls and we were on our way. 

The route was very beautiful this morning. The terrain is starting to change now that we're farther away from the coast. Much to the excitement of some (and the dismay of others) we actually hit some hills today. I am pumped!! New terrain means that we are getting farther into our journey across be country. 

I've got a lot of pictures from today!! Here they are:

It was Sarah's birthday today so the magic white board was decorated in her honor. 

"Well that was weird" Rae chalked on the road after a random short stretch of gravel road. 

The real "chain gang" posing next to their sign. 

Eliza napping in the shade at lunch. 

During lunch, a bunch of us went swimming in a pond near the lunch stop. It was a pretty gnarly pond with lots of gunk and miss but the temperature was perfect and it was awesome!! Sooo refreshing!

Kat and Travis with twin skull socks. 

My sophisticated leader with his asymmetrical shaving job. 

Sarah's leg covering in chair grease. "I don't know how this happens!!!!"

The capital building in Columbia, SC. 

Today, the group really put their "Donation Magic" to work. Donation Magic, DM for short, means basically that we get stuff for free by telling people a out what we're doing. We try to DM things for the entire group, specifically food, because any food we don't have to buy for the group means more money can be donated to our affordable housing  cause. Today, we got two dozen donuts, two pounds of coffee, Panera bread for tomorrow, a bunch of granola bars from Starbucks, and frozen yogurt. Awesome!!!

I am so tired. 45 miles tomorrow and 5:30 a.m. wake up call. Goodnight!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Day 6 - Sumter Build Day

Build day today!! It was the perfect day to work. We were all kind of sore from the long ride yesterday so today's build day was a welcome rest for our quads/hamstrings/butts. We were working on two houses today. Some people were cutting and painting shoe molding while the rest of us primed, sanded, and painted the interior of a house. Everyone in the group is such a hard worker!! It's awesome to be working next to so many amazing people. Everyone has a different story to tell. Here are some pictures from today:

It was a hot day but we got so much done!! We ended up spraying each other with water to stay cool. Lunch was Little Caesars Pizza. I had four pieces. I think my metabolism is already speeding up because I am constantly hungry!!

After we got back, we found this mysterious button on the wall and spent the next 10 minutes debating on whether or not to push it. We were all dying of laughter because we figured that it might cause the whole building to blow up and then next year's Bike and Builders wouldn't have any place to stay. Ethan, our leader, was blocking it from everyone because not knowing what it did was making him so anxious! Finally, a rider, Kevin, got the guts to push it. It rang a really loud bell and everyone was relieved. 

We have dinner at 6:30 so everyone has some free time. We haven't had barely any free time until now so everyone's wondering what to do with themselves. Me, I'm blogging from the back of the shower line:

Love from Sumter!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day 5 - Pinopolus to Sumter

South Carolina is a pretty cool state. When I pictured it before I got here, I figured it was all Spanish moss and houses with big white porches. It definitely has not let me down! It's a beautiful place although most of the roads we ride on are pretty busy.

Today was our first substantial ride. It was supposed to be 68 miles, which is long enough but it turned out to be nearly 80 miles after the entire group of us made a wrong turn. It wasn't too bad because we got to take some scenic backroads. 

We saw a sign on the main road that had an arrow pointing to "The Answer Place." We were too curious to pass it up so we took a detour to find it. Turned out to be a church. 

We got chased by a big dog today and I was terrified because I cannot stand dogs when I'm on a bike. Luckily I was riding with my friend, Amanda, who is the sweetest girl you could meet. When that dog started to chase, I was cowering and Amanda let out an uncharacteristic guttural, "NO!!!!" That dog put its tail between its legs and turned right back around. It was hilarious!

Lunch was delicious again. We had leftover pizza, fried chicken, mac and cheese, granola bars, peanut butter and jelly, and combinations of things we found in trailer. It's amazing what concoctions you can come up with when you're starving and your quads want food. 

Sarah and the lunch menu

We had an expectedly long ride after we all missed the turn but everyone had a good attitude about it. One girl had 8 flats! Eight!!!! I probably would have chucked my bike over a bridge at that point but she came in with a smile on her face. The culprit was bad rim tape on her wheels.

When we finally got into Sumter, we took a fountain bath. We got a few weird looks but we are now in "Bike and Build World" and it's hard to care what anyone else thinks about you. I ate a strawberry that fell into the dirt the other day. We took a nap in a strangers front yard. It is a different world out here.

Fountain bath

Here are some pictures from the build a few days ago:

That's all folks! Build day tomorrow! Check back tomorrow for updates!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 4 - First Day of Riding

We had a warm up 36 miles today from Charleston to Pinopolus. We were awoken by the sounds of Disney music playing. First the Lion King and then Mulan. We ate a delicious breakfast provided by Trinity United Methodist Church and were on our way!

We stopped at the beach for our "official" wheel dip but since the beach was small and surrounded by fencing, we just handed down a few bikes and posed for a picture. After that, we all took off in small groups at our own pace. 

Goodbye, Atlantic!!

The ride was pretty uneventful. The roads were traveled on were very busy and we stayed in one line the whole day. We're not allowed to ride "two abreast" until the leaders deem us ready due to safety. 

We stopped for lunch with about 12 miles to go. Our trailer contained fried chicken, pizza, and cookies from last might's dinner which we happily consumed. It was sooo good. Nothing like some cold fried chicken in the middle of a bike ride!

Laini with double pizza slices. 

The boys and their fried chicken. 

The host site for tonight is amazing!!! There is a lake and the food was amazing. The night ended with an incredible dinner, awesome fellowship with the people of Pinopolus, a Bike and Build presentation, some intense ultimate frisbee, and a night swim where we saw the most beautiful moonrise I've ever witnessed. I can't believe it's only Day 4. I feel like I've know all these people for months now. I can't wait to see what other adventures are in store for us tomorrow. We will be biking from Pinopolus to Sumter and will stay there an extra day to build. It's our first serious riding day 69 miles.

The group and a giant paper mâché dinosaur. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Day 3 - Chaleston Build Day!

Today was a Build Day so we worked with Charleston Habitat for Humanity to help make the finishing touches on a house. My group dug holes for fence posts and developed many blisters on our hands but it was worth it. Another group leveled out the group around the house. We got a lot of work done! There was a small pond behind the house where there was rumored to be an alligator. A neighbor pointed it out to us and we all pretended to see it even though I think all we saw was some sticks and mud that vaguely looked like an alligator. 

We got tickets to the local baseball team, the Riverdogs. They lost 12 to 2 but we cheered them on the whole way. I doubt they have ever had fans like us before. 

Marcus and Austin sporting some Riverdog war paint.

Sarah throwing a ball back to the pitcher.

We started a few chants, "when I say river, you say dogs! River! Dogs! River! Dogs!" Marcus googled all the players names so we were able to cheer for them personally. It was definitely a good team boding experience. Afterwards, there were fireworks:

I wish I had more pictures from the build site where we were working today but I didn't have my phone on me to take pictures. I'm waiting for Marcus to send them to me and then I'll post them so look for them in a later post.

Tomorrow is our first riding day. We are riding 35 miles to Moncks Corner! I can't wait to get on the bike! Goodnight and thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day 2 - More Orientation

Today was awesome. I have to admit that yesterday was pretty overwhelming for me with all the new faces and all the information but today really helped put things back into perspective and everyone here already seems like family.

We started off with some ice breakers, "Ninja" to be specific. Here's a picture:

If you don't know how to play, you're missing out...

Next was the shake down ride which is basically some bike obstacle courses followed by a 20 mile ride around the neighborhood to make sure everyone knows how to work their bikes safely and properly. Everyone passed with flying colors even though there are many people new to biking on this ride. It's crazy to think that we'll all be headed across the country starting on Saturday!

During our shake down ride, we stopped half way at a beach to do our pseudo wheel dip. Traditionally, all Bike and Builders have two wheel dipping ceremonies during their summer: one when they dip the back tire of their bike into the Atlantic in the beginning of the summer and one when they dip the front tire of their bike into the Pacific at the end of the summer. Usually, the Atlantic wheel dip occurs the first day of riding but due to our starting location, today was the only day we'd truly get to dip our wheels into the ocean. A beach party followed.

Soooo much awesomeness happened in one day that it's hard to narrow it down. 

At night, we helped set up dinner for some of Charleston's homeless people followed by a delicious dinner for ourselves provided by Charleston Habitat for Humanity.

Later, we explored town in an attempt to find place that had the Blackhawks/Red Wings game on. Found a pizza place playing the game. Hawks lost :( My new "enemy," Brian, from Detroit is rubbing it in.

Tomorrow we have a build day with Charleston Habitat for Humanity and apparently the Reverend at the church we're staying in found us all tickets for the local baseball team, the Riverdogs. Little do the Riverdogs know, we're their new biggest fans. 

So excited to do some work tomorrow!!! Goodnight!

We love puppies!!!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 1 - Orientation

After a somewhat restless night, I woke up this morning at 7:00 sharp acutely aware that I had just spent the last night sleeping in a bed for pretty much the rest of the summer. Today marked the first day I would spend sleeping on gym floors, church pews, and other hard horizontal surfaces throughout the country this summer. 

Orientation was a blur. I spent the whole day meeting my teammates and learning every single aspect of Bike and Build one could possibly know... even down to the saddle sores. Andddd there were pictures involved. Mmmm. 

Today was great but I am exhausted. We have an equally as packed day tomorrow and we will be having our shake-down ride to make sure everyone can ride their bikes properly. I should have brought my training wheels....

Well my thermarest is blown up and my sleeping bag looks inviting. Goodnight from Charleston! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

First mountain of the summer!

Yesterday we got into Asheville, NC. The mountains are absolutely gorgeous. I'm already thinking that I want to move around here someday because it is so beautiful. 

Dad brought along his bike so we could take a ride the next morning. We were thinking it was going to be an easy, scenic warm-up for the summer. We set our sights on the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway so we got in the car and drove to the place we wanted to start biking. We stopped at the visitor's center to get an idea about where we wanted to ride. Dad pointed to a spot on the map and told the lady behind the counter that we wanted to start there.

"Ohh," she said. "You'll be starting uphill but it's sure fun to come down." 

So we set out on the ride. It definitely was uphill. My legs were not warmed up. They complained. I was breathing loudly. So was Dad. Marcus fell behind. But eventually our legs gave in and warmed up and we continued uphill. 

After a mile, it leveled out a little. Dad looks at me and smiled. 

"That hill was a mile long! New record for me." 

Then we continued up for 14 more miles. Little did we know, we'd chosen to climb a mountain for our "warm-up" ride. The last mile and a half had a steeper grade and it was grueling!! But we all made it to the top!! Here are some pictures: 

Marcus resting at a scenic outlook stop. 

The beautiful mountains!

Dad and I at the summit!!

We climbed 4000 feet in 15 miles. It took over an hour and a half. The descent was mind-blowing. We averaged over 30 miles an hour and reached the bottom in less than a half hour. The road was sooo smooth!! Coming down that mountain was one of those moments where I felt so happy and so at peace that if I happened to die at that very moment, I would probably wake up in the same exact place I was in. The emotion was almost indescribable but I'll try. It felt like doing cartwheels and eating ice cream and going 40 mph and falling in love and snuggling with puppies and world peace all in one emotion. What a great way to start off the cross-country tour!!!! 

Orientation is tomorrow!!! I am nervous but mostly excited to meet leaders and teammates!! Stay tuned!!

The bridge into Charleston!