Founded in 2002, Bike & Build’s inaugural routes – Central United States and Northern United States – dipped their wheels in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in 2003. After that, Bike & Build added a new cross-country trip every year for the next six summers: Providence to Seattle in 2004, Southern United States in 2005, Providence to San Francisco (now Connecticut to California) in 2006, North Carolina to San Diego in 2007, Boston to Santa Barbara (now Maine to Santa Barbara) in 2008, and South Carolina to Santa Cruz in 2009. During our first 13 years, Bike & Build’s eight cross-country trips have engaged 3,000 young adults in service. Each summer, they now pedal over 1 million cumulative miles raising awareness for the cause.
In recent years Bike & Build has expanded our shorter offerings as well. Starting in 2009, our first regional ride- The Capital Ride- ran from Richmond, VA to Philadelphia, PA. After four years, this route evolved into Coastal Drift – a 3-week adventure along the Atlantic Coast from Bar Harbor, ME to New York City. Emulating that successful transition, Drift West became our 10th summer trip in 2015, a 3-weeker exploring the Pacific Northwest from Portland, OR to Bellingham, WA.
Bike & Build was founded in New York City by Marc Bush who, after leading a cross country trip with the (now discontinued) Yale Habitat Bicycle Challenge in 2001, was inspired to expand and improve their model. After growing for five years in the Big Apple, Bike & Build relocated to Philadelphia to enjoy a more central East Coast location, less expensive operating costs, and more accessible van and trailer storage. Always valuing function over form, the first office in the City of Brotherly Love was a concrete box behind a 7-11 (you can’t make this stuff up.) Fortunately, in 2012 we outgrew that office and moved to our current address – 6153 Ridge Ave. Incredibly, there are windows, parking spots, and carpet!
Several former B&B staff members made Bike & Build what it is today, including Chris Webber (NUS’05 Trip Leader, Bike & Build’s first Program Director), Brendan Newman (rider on NUS’06, Program Director from 2007 to 2015), and Kristian Sekse (NUS’07 Trip Leader, Program Director from 2008 to 2010, Bike & Build Board member and Chair from 2011 to 2015).
– Initially, there were 3 rides scheduled for our first summer (2003) – One went through Canada along the US border.
– In 2005, a Rocky Mountain ride was planned from Austin to Cannon Beach. Leaders were hired but the ride never went out.
– SUS used to start in Annapolis, but was moved south after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
– The University of North Carolina has produced the most Bike & Builders (109 through 2015). University of Virginia is second (97).
– When B&B first started, some trips were tied to East Coast colleges who helped us recruit riders and whose local Habitat chapters provided us with 15-passenger support vans. (NUS partnered with Dartmouth, P2S with Brown, CUS with UVA).
– A lot of people ask… “Why do you ride East to West? You’re going the wrong way!” Answer: As noted above, when B&B first started we relied on established East Coast institutions to get some footing. It was far easier for participants to get to trip start locales on the East Coast and because the Habitat chapters provided our vans, it was an easy logistical decision. Also, the sun rises in the east, so when our riders get on the road early in the AM, the sun is at drivers’ backs, making our riders more visible as they pass.