Photo by Joel Reichenberger
Members of the Bike and Build cross-country tour take a break from cycling to work on the Rotary Trail on Thursday near Steamboat Springs.
Steamboat Springs It wasn’t exactly what they set out to do. The 31 members of the Bike and Build cross-country tour pedaled into the Rocky Mountains from Denver, through Estes Park and Kremmling and into Steamboat Springs, figuring to assist Habit for Humanity in building a house.
But when that plan fell through, they didn’t worry for a minute, and a day hammering on the ever-progressing Rotary Trail near Steamboat turned into a welcome change of pace.
The Bike and Build program sends hundreds of mostly college-age cyclists pedaling across the country, the mass splitting into groups tackling eight routes.
The group that touched down Thursday in Steamboat was 2,329 miles into its 3,800-mile trek from Virginia Beach, Va., to Cannon Beach, Ore.
Steamboat’s builders — cyclists originally calling everywhere from Arizona to Nebraska to North Carolina home — already had logged more adventures than they ever expected.
They had pedaled through nine states and stopped to work in five cities. They repaired a house in St. Louis and built another in Denver. They stopped in Charlottesville, Va., Cincinnati and Kansas City, Mo.
“I did it in 2009 and loved it so much I wanted to do it again,” said Timur Ender, a North Carolina State University student and one of the ride’s leaders. “It’s great. You spend your whole day on a bike, and you’re outside. You get to interact with people and see the country.
“The way we phrase it, it’s a selfish way to do a selfless act.”
Each rider was required to raise $4,000 to participate in the trip, and each went about that task in a different way.
Most turned to friends and family. Some sent as many letters seeking funds as they could.
“I sold bicycle-powered smoothies,” said Jacob Snyder, a University of Iowa student from Wisconsin, explaining his pedal-powered blender.
“I had to send a lot of letters, too,” he added.
The group agreed that it’s all been paying off. They have plenty of miles remaining. They planned to soak up Thursday’s Grace Potter and the Nocturnals concert and then a large chunk had tickets to see the newest Harry Potter film at midnight before heading west out of Steamboat Springs, into Utah and up through Wyoming and Idaho.
The Rotary Trail — now 80 percent complete after a large workday Tuesday and Thursday’s unexpected surge and, if all goes well, three weeks from completion — will be the only trail the group will work on.
After a morning of hard work and a box full of hamburgers donated by Big House Burgers and Bottle Cap Bar, they were enjoying every second.
“It was really fun. It was a change of pace, and we all enjoyed it,” Kareem Kalil said.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com