FAQs

The Basics

Where do the trips go and what are their dates?
Check out each individual trip page for complete itineraries. Trips start as early as early May and as late as mid-June, and go through mid-July through late August.

Do I need any previous cycling/construction experience?
You do NOT need cycling or volunteering experience before signing up. In fact, the majority of our riders have never biked more than 15 miles at one time before they start training for Bike & Build (but yes, you have to train to get that experience, because it is vitally important on the road). We’re looking for young adults with a passion for service and adventure. Our build partners frequently work with volunteers with limited construction experience; they’ll provide day-of training and supervision to ensure our safety and effectiveness.

Is Bike & Build affiliated with Habitat for Humanity International?
Bike & Build is an independent organization and has no formal affiliation with Habitat for Humanity International or any other affordable housing group. Bike & Build supports a variety of affordable housing organizations throughout the country. As an independent 501(c)(3) organization, we volunteer with and grant to many different affordable housing nonprofits – all projects are entered into on per-occasion basis.

How is the money raised?
In order to participate in Bike & Build, each cross-country rider raises a minimum of $4,800 in donations to our organization ($2,400 for Drift riders). Cyclists raise this money in a variety of ways. We’re here to support fundraising efforts. When they enroll, riders receive a manual that includes oodles of ideas from previous riders on how they reached – and exceeded – the fundraising requirement.

How does Bike & Build disburse event proceeds? What organizations does Bike & Build contribute to?
The primary method is through our rider-chosen competitive grant program. Check out the grant section for more details.

Is Bike & Build a professionally led cycling tour?
No. Each trip has four peer Trip Leaders. Though many of them have not led cycling trips before, they devote significant time preparing and producing your trip. Leaders are in contact with riders to help them through the process and answer questions. Some days you will have amazing overnight accommodations and meals.  Some days you will not.  Some days you will shower with a hose.  Some days you will get lost.  Some days are going to be absolutely amazing.  Others will not be.  In the end it is all worth it though.  Trust us (and 3,300 other alums). MEChrisRidingTurner

Are you coming through my town?
Maybe. Check out our route network to see how close we’ll come to you.

 

Applying

When are applications available?
Applications are available in the Fall. There is no hard deadline to complete an application, but get your app in early to increase your odds of getting placed on your preferred trip. We have an active waitlist throughout the year as well, and we usually accept applications into the spring.

How do I apply?
Click here to access our application.

How quickly do trips fill up each year?
Trips fill at different rates every year. In the past, signing up when applications become available has guaranteed your entry and given riders a good chance of getting onto one of their top three route choices. Most years we have space to enroll a few riders in the spring. But each year is different, so get that app in early!

What are the age restrictions?
We accept riders through 26 and leaders through 29, as of the  first day of trip orientation.

Why do you have these restrictions?
Bike & Build’s mission is to engage young adults in addressing the country’s affordable housing crisis. We aim to foster the development of these individuals into service-minded citizens engaged in their communities long after their Bike & Build experience. Accordingly, we tailor much of our program to their leadership and skills development. NUSBoonvilleNonRiderCropped

Can I apply with a friend?
Absolutely. After you create your account and login, you will have an option to select your partners (up to 2). Please note, they need to already have created a current application to appear in the system.

Will my medical condition disqualify me from participating with B&B?
Pre-trip riders are required to receive medical clearance via a physical from their personal doctor. Bike & Build reserves the right to restrict participation of any perspective riders if their participation is deemed unsafe or medically dangerous to themselves or other riders. Additionally, riders are required to prove they are covered by a medical insurance policy while on the trip.

Do you have to be an American citizen to participate in Bike & Build?
You do not. We welcome all young adults, regardless of citizenship. Each individual rider is responsible for obtaining all required documentation to enter and exit the United States.

When can I start fundraising?
You are able to start fundraising as soon as you are assigned a trip, when you receive your personal fundraising page.

SUS Random

Does my application fee go towards my fundraising?
No. The $225 application fee pays for your Thermarest (a comfy air mattress on which you’ll sleep during the summer), one Bike & Build jersey, and other gear that is essential for your trip on the road. We try, as much as possible, to earmark the money you fundraise for the grants Bike & Build makes to our affordable housing partners. Keep in mind that your fundraising also covers our programming, which is carrying out our mission of engaging youth and spreading awareness of the affordable housing issue.

 

Pre-Trip

When are the route dates and overnight locations finalized each year?
Tentative route dates will be posted prior to applications going live in the fall. Generally dates and locations don’t significantly change throughout the winter and spring, but final details are often not finalized until March or April.

Will Bike & Build provide me with a bike?
Yes. Once you reach $1,000 in your fundraising, Bike & Build provides all participants with a new bike. Once you successfully complete the trip, the bike is yours to keep. The brand and model of the bike will be determined at the sole discretion of Bike & Build (in the past, it has been a Giant Defy). Participants wishing to ride their own bikes may petition to do so on a case-by-case basis and will receive a fundraising credit. You will be responsible for any costs incurred in maintaining your bikes, including replacement parts or, if warranted, the services of a professional mechanic. Bike & Build will not replace lost or stolen bicycles pre-, during, or post-trip.

What happens if I can’t raise the money?
You can raise the money! It seems like a lot to raise, but you’ll be surprised how eager people will be to donate when they hear about what you’re doing. Once you register, Bike & Build will send you a comprehensive binder chock full of advice on how to be a successful fundraiser. It’ll have more than enough ideas from former riders on what worked for them. You’ll be surprised at your potential to go above and beyond the fundraising minimum. That said, if a rider does not meet the minimum amount, they are eligible to participate. If the money isn’t in prior to orientation, you cannot ride. But we’ll work with you to make sure that this doesn’t happen.

SCGreenwayTeam

If I raise the money, then can’t go on the trip, will my donations be refunded?
If you withdraw prior to the trip leaving or during the middle of the trip, all funds that you have raised will be considered a donation to Bike & Build; it will not be refunded to donors. Bike & Build evaluates on a case-by-case basis whether a rider can roll over a prior donation balance to participate in future years.

If I’m on a waitlist and not currently enrolled in a trip, what are my odds of getting onto a trip?
Trips generally fill up by mid-winter, but every year we have a fairly high number of drop outs. We can’t guarantee space because every year is different, but based on previous years, if you aren’t yet enrolled in March or April, you’ll still likely be able to get on a trip.

Is my application fee refundable?
If we cannot place you on a route that works for you, your application fee is absolutely refundable. You can withdraw from the waitlist at any time, and we will refund your money.  If you withdraw, but change your mind, you go to the bottom of the list.  The only situation where your application fee will NOT be refunded is if we offer you a spot on a trip, you accept and are enrolled, but then later on you withdraw from the program for any reason.

 

On the Road

Where do we stay at night?
Bike & Build teams mostly stay with churches, community centers, and schools along their routes. You should also expect to spend a few nights camping out. Bike & Build will provide air mattresses, tents, and other necessary camping equipment, but you should bring your own sleeping bag.

How do I carry all of my stuff?
Each trip has a support van and trailer that schleps bags and gear to the next host site. Riders only carry a hydration pack with essential gear during the day.

How much free time will I have?
Well, it all depends on your definition of “free time.” If by free time you mean leisurely biking at your own pace and taking the chance to stop and check out cool things you’ll pass, then you’ll have tons of free time. Basically, you’re free all day; we’ll expect you to arrive at lunch at a reasonable hour, and require you to be at the night’s destination by four o’clock. Free time in the evenings varies, and depends on what’s on tap that day. You may be expected to gather for dinner with the group, make a slideshow presentation about Bike & Build and affordable housing issues to our hosts, or give a bike-safety clinic to children. Most days you’ll have chores to do – be it grocery shopping, doing group laundry, or tuning your bike. In short, you’ll have some restrictions and responsibilities that you’ll have to juggle, but you’ll have plenty of free time too. Used - CUS- Team - Li

What if I get sick on the road?
Flus and colds may happen. If you’re not feeling good enough to cycle, you can take the day off and ride in the support van. For more serious illnesses, Bike & Build leaders will locate a doctor and make sure that you receive appropriate care. For your health and safety, our leaders reserve the right to insist that you see a doctor or refrain from cycling.

What if I get into an accident?
Your health and safety are our top priorities. Please see our Safety section demonstrating the precautions we take with our riders. However, crashes can happen regardless of how attentive and safe you are. Cycling is an inherently dangerous activity, particularly as distracted driving with motorists becomes more prevalent. Again, we do all that we can to minimize risks to our riders. Read that safety section to learn more.

What will we eat?
Hosts are often very generous with our donated meals. Riders will often have cereal, muffins and/or bagels, fresh fruit, and juice for breakfast. A typical lunch includes leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pretzels, fruit, and cookies. Often, dinner will be a potluck meal provided by our hosts. Most are wonderful, and all are adequate.

Do you accommodate dietary restrictions?
Our kind and generous hosts are wonderful about providing at least one vegetarian option, though this cannot always be guaranteed. If you have any other dietary restrictions please let us know and we will accommodate your needs to the best of our ability, though please understand that special diets will generally require a good deal amount of extra work, expense and cooperation on your end. Every year we have several riders participate with peanut and gluten allergies. Again, we try to accommodate reasonable requests, though due to the nature of having most of our meals generously donated by hosts and supporters we don’t always have control over this.

How much does it cost to do Bike & Build?
Besides the fundraising requirement, riders will spend a range of dollars on different things. Past riders have reported spending around $650 in pre-trip cycling gear, $200 on bike maintenance during the trip, and$50/week on spending money. Travel to and from the trip is up to the rider as well, and that varies for each person.

8 - Corn Jump - Jay EpelmanWhat expenses does Bike & Build cover?
You will be provided with three good meals a day, a place to sleep, and all team-based incidentals necessary to complete the trip. Other expenses (bike gear, snacks, movies, additional toiletries, etc.) are up to you.

Will I be able to get mail while on the road?
Yes! You’ll be able to receive mail and care packages about once a week through designated mail drops. We’ll let you know the details about this closer to the trip.

What if I have to leave in the middle of the trip?
Bike & Build participants are expected to stay with the group for the duration of our events. If you know that you will have to leave the trip for a few days (family occasion, wedding, etc.) or leave early, please let us know and we will work out the details. If an emergency arises during the trip and you must leave, we will do our best to accommodate you. Bike & Build policies regarding early withdrawal from the trip are outlined in detail in the Participant Manual. Except in very rare circumstances, we do not allow riders to arrive for Trip Orientation late – much too important to miss.

Will the whole group ride together?
No. In fact, the only times that everyone will ride as a group are the first and last few miles. Typically, you’ll cycle in small groups of three or four riders of your own pace. Riding in very large packs is unsafe.

Will I have chores or responsibilities on the road?
Yes! Though there are four leaders, the success of the trip largely depends upon the contributions of each and every rider while on the road. Each rider will be assigned to a particular chore group that will rotate on a weekly basis. These chores will include everything from cleaning the overnight location to doing laundry. Each trip acts as a large family and each member must contribute to accomplish all of the daily tasks.

How do the build days work? SC - 2013 - Vertical - Gehl
Each trip will have multiple scheduled Build Days where, instead of cycling, the group will spend at least one day working on the construction of an affordable home. Don’t worry if you don’t have much construction experience – many housing organizations are used to working with unskilled labor. If you do have experience, that’s great – your expertise will be put to use. You’ll likely do a different job at every site, including framing, painting, roofing, drywalling, landscaping… pretty much anything they need us to help with to get the home built! Each site will have a skilled supervisor overseeing the work, and all riders will do a run-through of safety protocol before the day begins.

What happens when I get to our destination? How will I get back home?
Bike & Build will host a reception for your group on the evening of your arrival in the destination city, and we encourage you to invite friends and family to join us. We’ll arrange for two nights of accommodations at your destination and encourage you to hang out and explore the place that’s been on your mind for the previous ten weeks. You’ll be responsible for arranging your own transportation back home (you could always bike back — it’s happened before!). There will be some odds and ends we’ll help you take care of such as boxing up and shipping your bike, cleaning and returning equipment, and debriefing.