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To Do: Bike Cross-Country and Build Homes for Families


USF's Robin Kuehn ’13 celebrates her 11,000-foot climb over Teton Pass in Wyoming's Rocky Mountains as part of Bike & Build in 2011. 

Call it enervating or call it energizing — either way, USFers will take to the open road for a second consecutive year, traveling cross-country to raise money for low-income family housing and to build homes for families without them. 

Robin Kuehn ’13, Megan Ryan ’15, and Megan Jo Danielson ’12 are members of Bike & Build, a nonprofit that hosts cycling trips to fund and construct affordable housing.

Members of the Pennsylvania-based organization spend approximately 70 days on the road between May and August, stopping along the way to volunteer more than 1,500 hours to build as many as 12 homes in the states they pedaled through.

At night, riders camp outdoors or sleep in churches, community centers, and schools that host the groups of 20 to 30 bikers. Novice cyclists to seasoned trekkers ages 18 to 25 can participate in one of eight summer rides, after first raising $4,500 in pledges for Bike & Build. Bike & Build then donates the money to housing organizations throughout the nation, including Habitat for Humanity.

“I was convinced that there was no better way to spend a summer,” said Kuehn, who rode 4,000 miles with a team last summer but will not be riding this summer. “I raised money for an important cause, met a bunch of cool people, and biked across the country.”

A history major, Kuehn pedaled from Rhode Island to Washington between June and August 2011.

Ryan, an environmental science major in the School of Education’s dual degree in teacher preparation program, joined Bike & Build in November, after hearing about Kuehn’s trip and meeting a man in Oregon who had biked there alone from Indiana. Danielson, an environmental science major, who also became a Bike & Build member in November, was inspired by the long rides she once took with her dad on a bicycle she won in fifth grade for reading the most books among her classmates.

“I was in awe of the idea of traveling across the country using only human power steered by a great cause,” said Ryan, who is training to ride from Virginia to Oregon beginning at the end of May and running into August. “Bike & Build has really helped me know that, no matter how busy I am, it is always possible to make time to help someone else.”

Unfazed by her inexperience with home construction, Ryan is driven by her eagerness to help underserved communities. “Everyone needs to start somewhere, and I’m more than eager to learn. Luckily, I won’t be working by myself, and I will always have a team to help,” Ryan said.

Written by Kathleen de Lara »email usfnews@usfca.edu | Twitter @usfcanews