McComas rolls on: Bikes across America, builds houses
February 9, 2012 Leave a comment
by Abby Ferguson
As winter term is in full swing, many students are looking for opportunities this summer. Each student goes a different direction, gaining experience in different areas of life.
For senior Kelsey McComas, a biology major with an art history minor, she wanted to use her last free summer to be a part of something beyond herself. After learning about an organization called Bike and Build from a mutual friend of her sister, she decided it was the perfect opportunity for this summer.
“After stressing out about the post-graduation limbo, I decided I wanted to travel, do something totally outside my comfort zone that would also benefit others,” said McComas. “I also wanted to take some time on my own, so Bike and Build seemed like a perfect fit.”
Bike and Build, founded in 2002, is a certified, nonprofit organization that organizes cross-country bicycling trips along eight U.S. routes. The organization gives over 50 percent of its fundraising to building affordable housing. Through their efforts they have raised over $3.3 million in donations.
The riders will go out in groups of about 30 and will bike over 3,700 miles during a 10-week period. Most stays are overnight, but the riders will also have the opportunity to stay in cities for two nights.
“Along the way, we will stop in cities to rest, eat and shower. The places we will stay within the cities will be churches, schools or community centers,” said McComas. “The second day there will be spent working directly with an affordable housing charity to build a low-income house.”
McComas will begin biking the northern U.S. route June 20 with a two-day orientation in Portsmouth, N.H., and will end 3,757 miles later in Vancouver, British Columbia, Aug. 28. Bike and Build will provide the riders with two night’s accommodation in the destination city, but returning home is the rider’s responsibility.
“I assume that after biking all that way a plane ride will sound like the best mode of transportation home,” said McComas.
Training for the trip began soon after winter break, and she is usually in the Beck Center five days a week. She also plans on getting outside to ride, weather permitting.
McComas is looking forward to the opportunities that will arise from participating in this trip across the United States.
“The first, and most important, is being able to see the difference I can make in so many people’s lives during one summer,” said McComas. “And secondly, I am looking forward to seeing the country not through a windshield. Along my route I will see all five of the Great Lakes, travel across 13 states (and) bicycle through Chicago and through Glacier National Park.”
This trip requires the riders to raise $4,500 for Bike and Build. To donate in McComas’ name, go to her website, or send a check with her name in the memo line to Bike and Build’s address.
McComas has already begun to raise the funds to go, and once she reaches $1,000 Bike and Build will send a new bike for her to keep.
“It has been extremely encouraging to have the people closest to me support me so early on in my efforts, as well as other people in the Transy Bubble who are more than willing to help me,” said McComas.