Week 1 (Portland, Maine to Fitchburg, Massachusetts)

Day 1 – Portland, Maine – Orientation

Day one was exhausting. It takes a lot out of you meeting 30 new people in a day. It was an interesting transformation from only knowing the Facebook personality of each person to getting to know them in person. Everyone accepted the fave that the other members have been “Facebook creeping” on them for the past several months and once we all met there were instant connections that were made.

After a few ice breakers and everyone got to know each other and learn names we took our giant can to shuttle people down the street to a church that provided us with dinner. We had tons of lasagna. Then when we got back we had presentation after presentation about bike safety, life on the road, how to prevent saddle sores and the do’s don’t’s of the road.
And now finally I am in bed at 11 pm anticipating my wake up call at 5:55 am.

Day 2 – Portland, Maine – Shakedown

Started off the day with day with a bit of confusion. There was a long line for the bathroom so one of the group leaders, Casey, informed me there was a bathroom nextdoor at the priest’s office.
“Yeah just go in that red door then go up and open the door on your right, you’ll see it.”
I followed his directions and quietly opened the door I thought he was referring to. I found myself in a kitchen with dirty dishes in the sink and what seemed like more of an apartment than an office. I looked around and noticed a bathroom off to the side. After entering I began brushing my teeth and quickly realized I was definitely not in the bathroom Casey was referring to. I was in someone’s home. There were a couple used towels on the floor along with a curling iron by the sink along with hair brushes filled with hair. I quickly finished brushing and changed into my biking gear for the day and got out of there. I could only imagine the tenants living there opening the door to find a skinny kid in a biking out fit standing in their bathroom.

After we got all that confusion out if the way we regrouped for breakfast and then went on a biking tour around Portland to check out the affordable housing situation in the city. Our tour guide worked with the city on developing affordable housing and was an avid biker as well. He was more than eager to show us the homes he has helped put in and the ones they are currently working on.

Once we returned we met up with another cyclist of Portland who gave us a lengthy presentation about biking safety. Much of which we had already heard before in previous presentations but I assume is was good to get even more drilled into our heads.

Then, FINALLY, came our shakedown ride. This was just a short 12 mile ride to practice riding in small groups and to ensure everyone’s bikes were working properly.

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Once we returned we took a couple shuttles to a local college for everyone to shower and get ready for dinner which we had at a previous riders house. She was able to tell us the ups and downs of living on the road.

After two days of living so close to everyone it’s amazing to see how much love has blossomed in such a short amount of time. It seems like we have all been friends for years. Everyone just fits perfectly together. No one is ever left out ad everyone is so attentive tone another.

I think my cheeks hurt from laughing so much.

Day 3 – Portland, Maine – Build Day

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Today was our first build day. We worked on a 3 unit home in Freeport. Working with Habitat wig my group was such a different experience than back home. It was so much nicer to work with people my own age and shared my similar interests. My job for the day was nailing giant pieces of styrofoam to the outside of the house for insulation. Myself as well as a few other puzzled riders had some difficulty recalling our geometry lessons from high school to cut certain angels throughout the house. Then came the fun part of climbing two story ladders and nailing everything up. Unfortunately we got rained on for a short time after lunch but it cleared up for the rest of the day.

When we retuned back to lout host site we took showers and ate dinner. Then is was time to finish painting the trailer. Each year the bike and build riders get to put their own funky design. We decided ti have one side the united states with our route on it and have each state a neat character. I will most likely have some pictures up tomorrow of the trailer if we get it complete.
Tomorrow is our first ride day of about 65 miles. And I am exhausted so going to sleep. Goodnight, and thank you for following.

Day 4 – Bike Ride to Kittery, Maine

5:30 am wake up call if going to take some getting used to. We woke up a tad earlier than usual to take our bikes to the ocean to do an inaugural dip. This is where we all line up by the shore and and dip our back tires in. Then once we get to California we will dip our from tires in so we will literally go from coast to coast.

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Then we start out on our first ride of the summer. A 65 mile one. From Portland to Kittery. But it was more like 75 miles because we got lost about 4 times.

There is a thing bike and build does called “donation magic” which is when we go to local places like ice cream shops and ask for discounts after telling them about our cause and our trip. And hopefully get. Donation as well. We saw the first of this on our trip today. We stopped at a local ice cream shop and every rider got 50% off their purchase.

After this is when our ride got beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. We rode along the coast going through small towns and passing giant beach houses. The roads were windy and slightly hilly. But despite there being windy roads, the drivers in Maine are for beyond courteous to cyclists. They won’t ever pass without giving you at least 4 feet of clearance.
We came across some spectacular views.

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Later on we came across a small beach. The water was too tempting not to go in. We threw off our jerseys and biking shoes and plunged in the salty water. It felt so refreshing. And nothing tastes better and feels better on your skin than the salty ocean water.

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Although the ride after this was a little chilly riding home in wet chamois.

However, shortly after our swim we came across a zoo with some amusement park rides. One of which was a Ferris wheel which is the fastest Ferris wheel in the northeast. We used some “donation magic” and got on for free!!!

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Then after getting lost just a few more times and everyone was starting to get tired and hungry, of course the last ten miles was giant hills that we wanted nothing more to push through quickly and get some dinner. And to our luck, as soon as we got to our host site dinner was being served.

And tomorrow we ride again.

Day 5 – Bike Ride to Andover, Massachusetts

In the beginning of the ride we were informed that we would come across a swimming hole along our route. Around mile ten. So pretty much the first 10 miles all I was doing was looking for the chalk to indicate where it was. We use chalk to mark our route. The first group that goes out will chalk difficult turns and scenic views or fun things along the way to let the other riders know behind them. I finally saw it. An arrow pointing up a side road that said “swim.” We raced up the hill, me and my sweaty pack, anxious to jump into the refreshing cold water. We finally arrived and met up with a few other groups in the water. The water was freezing, but refreshing.

After our dip we set back out into the hot sun. Pretty much the entire ride was hills. I gained some momentum flying down a big hill but hit about 6 or 8 pot holes on the way down. After that something didn’t feel right. We pulled off to the side and sure enough, I had a flat. And of course it just had to be on my back tire, the most annoying to change. After switching it we went on our way.

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But just before I got my flat we noticed a group of B & Bers riding in the opposite direction on the other side of the road. We looked at them questioning if we were going the wrong way. Then we looked a little closer and noticed that those people weren’t our group at all. It was the Northern Route!!!!! It was amazing, we were passing a completely different group. (Bike and Build has 8 different routes that go across the country). It was such an amazing feeling to see another group. It was like seeing a brother you never knew you had. Unfortunately they were running a bit behind schedule so we were unable to stop and chat with them put it was still pretty great.

We grabbed lunch in a park and ate some leftovers from the night before then got on our way to eat some more hills. One of the group leaders, Kristin, and I set out together. Shortly after starting, after blowing through New Hampshire we passed the state line into Massachusetts. It was such a triumphing feeling to come across our first state crossing.

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After riding for awhile we came across a bridge leading into a small town. The bridge was basically metal gratis and was and extremely bumpy ride across. Once we got to the other side I noticed something didn’t feel right again. And sure enough, it was another flat. This time it was my front tire.

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Finally after that was taken care of. We climbed more and more hills until we came to another small town. The road was under construction and the pave my was pulled up. The ride was so bumpy it felt like I was riding on a massage chair turned on high.
We pulled off to the side to double check our directions. Something didn’t feel right again… I grabbed my front tire and yes sure enough it was flat. Third flat for one day.

Then, finally, FINALLY after figuring out where we were going and climbing even more hills we made it to our host site, a school. And right now I am about to pass out in the gymnasium with my fellow riders. And we are all so unbelievably exhausted after biking up what felt like Mt. Everest.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a short 40 mile ride, but it is purely hills…of course.

Day 6 – Bike Ride to Fitchburg, Massachusetts

Woke up this morning with a flat tire. I guess I’m so good at getting flats that I can get them in my sleep. Apparently my tire got pinched towards the end of my ride and over night it leaked out all the air. We came to the conclusion that my rim tape wasn’t flush with the rim and my tubes kept getting pinched in between the rim tape.
Kristin, the group leader in charge if driving the van for the day, lent me her tires as she took mine to a bike shop to get new tape put in them.

Once we set out on our ride, I knew that one of Hewlett-Packard’s main offices was in the town we were leaving from. And luckily, it not being that far off our route, my riding group stopped to get some photos there. Owning an hp computer I just had to stop by.

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Today was a fairly steady ride, we were on a bike path for a short portion of the ride where we found a small beach. And although the water was frigid, it felt oh so refreshing.

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After riding for a little while longer we all started getting very hungry. We stopped at a local deli to try some donation magic. The manager was overly excited to help us out. And although it being a fairly pricey place he let us order anything off the menu and even offered us a side of chips and cookies. For the 5 of us our bill would of easily come to over 40 dollars. But he gave it all to us for FREE!!
And it was delicious!

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Once our stomachs were full we set out to finish our ride. We were told in the morning that the town we were biking into is the second most hilliest town in America so the entire time we were anticipating giant mountains to climb. We eventually came across a swimming hole and took another refreshing dip. But this time the water was even colder. It felt like I was swimming through glaciers my body was so cold.
After this swim we had about 12 miles left. And of course once we were all starting to get tired this is when the route became insanely hilly. We climbed higher and higher and just when you think you saw the crest and it beginning to go down hill you realized that it was just a shallow dip with another mountain to conquer.

We finally arrived to the church host site for the night and took a much needed shower at the local YMCA. There was a small bar about a block from the church that we all went out to and I just happened to meet a guy that worked at the same hp we visited in the morning. He said he saw us there in the morning and was wondering who we were. He was a super nice guy and bought all of us pitchers of beer. He also gave me his e mail and told me to let him know when I buy my next computer, he said he would use his employee discount to get me 30% off!

People are awesome, beer is good, and I’m going to sleep.

Day 7 – Fitchburg, Massachusetts – Build Day

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Today was day 7. One week under our belts, or under our chamois I should say. It’s amazing how close of a group we have become in such a short amount of time. We all get along like we’ve been friends forever. There is no drama or negativity. Everyone is overly supportive of one another. When each group is rolling in to lunch or the host site they are welcomed with cheers from the other riders. We are all so positive about everything. I think a lot has to do with our level of determination. Being that each one of us raised $4500 to do this trip we are all very motivated individuals to go out and chase what we want.

Another thing I have noticed after being on the road for one week is that days of the week don’t matter anymore. Everyday is a work day for us. We are either biking or building. It’s not like we get one certain day a week off so hump day doesn’t exist.

Today was a build day for us. We went to a house that was already completed but the back yard needed some help. There was a drainage issue that caused all the runoff to go into the neighbors driveway. We built a trench and installed a pipe line to catch the excess water and direct it down the woods into a stream. We also tore out quite a bit of weeds behind the home.

We relaxed for the remainder of the night and made a giant banana bread. There were a ton of bananas left so we loaded it with banana slices, chocolate chips, and left over cookies that we crumbled into the mix. It was so thick and giant that it wouldn’t cook all the way through but we still enjoyed eating the soup like bread out of the tray.

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