When and why did you decide to do Bike & Build?
A woman who was to become my best friend brought a show-and-tell item to our African Drumming & Dance class early Fall semester of 2006. It was a Bike & Build jersey, her daily uniform from the summer past. Destiny certainly decided right then that Bike & Build was something I needed to do, but it took me until summer of 2010 to finally make the commitment to CUS. It’s still one of the best decisions I have ever made. I consistently long for intense experiences of deep community, and I knew B&B would offer that – it has not disappointed.
How has B&B impacted your life?
Bike & Build has impacted my life in so many ways! From the jobs I’ve had to the friends I love to where I live and even how I think about myself. I already knew I wanted to move from Virginia to Denver after my trip in 2010. When CUS10 stayed at a church in Denver and walked around the corner to get ice cream after our 105 mile day in, I chose a flavor called “Dirt”, the proceeds of which went to a local community gardening nonprofit. I did a little digging and found they had an internship open. I applied, and eventually became the Director of Garden Support at that organization. Along the way I also got to work for Denver Housing Authority on a healthy food initiative, thus fulfilling my goal (which I came to after about 2000 miles of cycling) of working at the intersection of affordable housing and food access.
How have you stayed connected to B&B post-trip?
Bike & Build continues to be one of the most important communities in my life. I’ve met some of my dearest friends not only on my trip, but through alumni events afterwards. Shortly after our trip ended, 10 of the 30 of us moved to Colorado. Since then many have moved elsewhere, but there is still a core group of us that gets together every couple months for Family Dinners. At the most recent one I showed up, walked into the backyard, and immediately took off my pants because it was hot and, you know, it’s Bike & Build, so we get to do that kind of thing with each other. I take a lot of comfort in that some things will never change.
Can you share a little about yourself in general? Interests? Occupation? What you have been up to since B&B?
Like pretty much every Coloradan, I love getting into the mountains in all seasons, whether it’s hiking or mountain biking or skiing or plant identification or camping, always with my dog Scarlett. Colorado has no shortage of quirky and completely endearing mountain towns to explore, which is one of my favorite things to do. While I’m no longer in the urban agriculture world, I still love community gardens and farmers markets (though I’m grateful to no longer manage either of them!). I currently work for a small consulting business that helps nonprofits around board governance and strategic planning, and am in the middle of a computer coding bootcamp as I attempt to pivot into the tech world. Denver has really changed since I moved here 9 years ago, so I’m beginning to fantasize about what and where’s next (Bozeman, MT is looking pretty good).
What prompted you to sign up to run the Colfax Marathon this year? Can you speak to your personal goals and well as fundraising goals?
Running a marathon has been on my bucket list since I was in college. I had run the Colfax half in the past, but never set aside the time to train for the full marathon. When I learned that Bike & Build was a charity partner, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to run for a cause and an organization I believe in. I set my fundraising goal to $2,620 — $100 for every mile I would run on race day — and kicked off the fundraising with a donation of my own. I’m really fortunate to have a wide and generous network of friends and family who show up to support my myriad of crazy ideas, so the fundraising goal was easy to meet — especially when one very generous friend offered a matching donation for every dollar raised on my birthday! Finding the time to train while working full time, maintaining my side gigs (chalkboard artist/yoga instructor/petsitter extraordinaire) and starting a coding bootcamp on nights & weekends was much more challenging. In the end, though, the marathon itself wasn’t nearly as hard as I was told it would be. With my brother and other friends cheering me on, as well as a very exuberant B&B crew to meet me near the finish, I was smiling nearly the whole time — and can’t wait to run my next marathon! On a more serious note, Denver (like many major US cities) is really struggling with how to best support our homeless neighbors. Having known folks from the street community here and getting a small glimpse of their daily struggles and how the system is stacked against them made long runs, even in wintry weather, easy by comparison. We still have a long way to go towards justice and equitable housing – an issue definitely worthy of the marathon metaphor.
Favorite day on B&B?
The day we biked out of Boulder and into Estes Park was magical! I was on sweep that day, and my co-sweeper had a fractured hip (yet still insisted upon riding bc she is a badass) so she was going a bit slower than usual. I biked a little ahead and wrote her encouraging chalk poetry all the way up the hill. Along the way, I met a local cyclist who asked who all these bikers were. I told him the story and he gave me $20 for B&B on the spot. When we reached the top of Gold Hill for the lunch stop, it SNOWED on us! On July 2nd! So we raced the storm down the other side of the mountain. Biking into the shadows of the Rockies, in full bloom, up close and personal, was awe-inspiring. When I arrived at the amazing place we were staying in Estes, my B&B crush (omg remember those) had a bouquet of wildflowers waiting for me, wrapped in an elaborate picture-poem asking me to be his date to B&B prom.