Timur Ender spent the summer of his sophomore year riding a bicycle across the United States. That may seem like a free and easy way to see the country until you remember there’s a little thing called the Rocky Mountains between North Carolina and California.
Ender noticed the change in grade in Colorado but took it in stride.
“It’s amazing to reach 11,000 feet and realize you got there on your own without any assistance,” he says.
Service and Adventure
The trip was part of an annual adventure called “Bike & Build” that recruits college students to get actively involved in developing affordable housing. Teams fan out across the country every summer, stopping along the way to help out on projects sponsored by Habitat for Humanity and other groups. But they’re expected to contribute more than just sweat equity. Each rider must also raise $4,000 in donations to help fund the building projects.
Ender traveled with a team from North Carolina to San Diego two years ago. This summer he’ll be a team leader on the central route, leaving Virginia Beach on May 25 and arriving in Cannon Beach, Ore., on Aug. 6.
On the Road Again
Life on the road follows a strict routine.
“Up at 5, eat at 6, ride at 7,” Ender says.
Afternoons are set aside for building projects, basketball and bicycle maintenance. Meals are potluck, provided by local churches along the route.
“The hardest thing is that you don’t really have a home,” Ender says. “You’re always on the go.”
But, he adds, the benefits far outweigh the challenges.
“There’s a great sense of accomplishment,” he says. “By time we got to Colorado, the houses we built in Chapel Hill and Maryville, Tenn., were already occupied.”
Ender, a senior in criminology, is one of eight NC State students making the Bike & Build trek this summer. Follow the links to learn more about each rider, or to donate: