With summer just starting the Bike & Build teams are on their way. 8 different routes will be beginning on the east coast and ending on the west coast, each route cycling about 4,000 miles all to raise money and awareness for affordable housing.
Once you do a Bike & Build trip you become part of this special community of cyclists. It takes a certain type of person to cycle across America for charity and 10 times out of 10 that person is an awesome person.
After doing a bit of research I learned that the Southern Route would be stopping in Dallas to build for a couple days. I hopped online and sent a message out to the Bike & Build alumni page asking for contact info for the Southern Route leaders so I could meet up with them.
Through the wonderful power of Facebook I was easily connected with another Bike and Builder, Cassie. Cassie also completed a Bike & build route last year; she completed the Northern route which starts in New Hampshire and ends in Vancouver.
I took the Megabus from Austin to Dallas and within a few short hours I was connected with Cassie. I dropped my stuff off at her apartment and we set off to explore the town. Our plan was to meet up with the Bike & build team that night but unfortunately they had some things planned to do with their host. So, instead, she and I spent the evening getting to know each other.
We decided to do some shopping so we could bring the group some tasty treats like how so many alumni brought us on our past trips. I remembered when I did Bike & Build last year we had a candy cooler and it was the most marvelous thing in the world.
We stocked up on all sorts of tasty treats and, of course, a few jars of Nutella because on Bike & Build Nutella is like gold.
Next we set out to find some dinner. Cassie decided to take me to one of her favorite restaurants in town. Shortly after being seated we were informed that the kitchen was closing in fifteen minutes and suddenly realized that we were THOSE people. You know the kind of people with no regard to human decency and still feel entitled to order food even though the people working just want to get the hell out of there. Normally I’m not sure if I would have gotten up and left but after working only a few short months in the service industry I knew that everyone hates those people that show up just before close. Even when your server say, “it’s totally fine, please stay and enjoy a meal.” What the really mean is, “get the hell out so I can go home!”
Since I am not a terrible human being I decided to leave a couple bucks on the table and leave to find another restaurant that was open later. We came across a new restaurant that was open til midnight. It was a plain brick building with no windows; nothing but a large wooden door for the entrance. “I’ve always wondered what this place looked like on the inside.” Cassie said.
“Well that’s a good enough reason for me to eat here.” I replied. We entered to a rustic classy looking bar and restaurant. It was one of those relaxed feeling places with an open floor plan and an unfinished ceiling where you can see the rafters and air conditioning pipes. After being seated at one of the tall leather booths that lined the left side of the restaurant we were informed that this is the kind of restaurant where all the plates are meant to be shared.
We looked over the exquisite menu and decided to go with the octopus salad to start. The pieces of octopus were fried and had a rubber band like consistency when chewed. Nonetheless, the salad was delicious.
Next, came the meat. Bone marrow. Yes, I said bone marrow. Now I don’t know what animal it came from but I do know one thing: It was delicious. It came in a hollowed out bone cut in half so you could scrape out the shredded meat and the bone marrow juices onto a slice of buttered toast and enjoy. To my surprise, it was amazing.
Finally, came the dessert. Carmel chocolate peanut butter pretzel tart. To no surprise this was also incredible. And to top off this evening, on the way out we found a giant chair to get a picture in.
The Build Day
We awoke early and set out to the build site just outside of downtown. It was at an elementary school and the team had already started pounding their hammers by the time we arrived. We spent the day hanging foam insulation on the exterior of the home and installing windows.
Like most build days on Bike & Build there are far more volunteers than work to do. It’s always difficult to keep everyone busy for an entire day when you have 30+ volunteers and a fairly small home to work on. I spent most of the time conversing with the Bike & Builders and did my best to answer their thousands of questions about my trip.
After a day of building we headed back to the host for dinner and swimming and to see the rest of the team. Southern Route, unfortunately, caught an unexpected stomach virus that was slowly wiping through the entire team. It started with one and then before they knew it riders were forced to pull off the road as they took turns puking their guts out. It eventually got to the point where about half their team had the virus. They called it the apukecalypse.
The Bike & Build Queen
As we walked to the parking lot I noticed several people getting into vehicles. Wait a second… I thought to myself. This didn’t seem right. I thought there was only a van to transport everyone. I asked one of the bikers how they had cars and they casually responded, “Oh, they’re Peggy’s cars.”
Now I remember towards the end of my trip hearing rumors of this amazing host that Southern Route encounters where she puts them up in her giant house and then flies out to the west coast and greets them at the ocean with expensive Champaign for celebration.
Not only were these rumors true but she also lets them use her vehicles to take their bikes to bike shops or to simply just drive around the city for exploring.
When we arrived at the house I was blown away by everything this lady had provided for them. Not only did she have an amazing house which she literally handed over to them. For the three days they were staying there Peggy and her husband stayed in their motorhome so the team could use her house to its entirety.
I entered into the kitchen to find an absurd amount of food. Hamburgers, veggie burgers, vegan burgers, corn, pies, cake, and candy. Sooo much candy and sweets filled up an entire counter. The team had two build days in Dallas and in the Bike & Build world when there is a build day the next day then that is more than an excuse to party. Once again, Peggy had them covered. Cases upon cases of beer filled her back porch with anything from hard lemonade to IPA’s. But wait, there’s still one more thing. Peggy also took the liberty of hooking this team up with some pretty sweet shades. But not your typical Walmart brand sunglasses. No. Instead she hooked everyone up with Serengeti polarized sunglasses. She happened to order extra so I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pair of these sweet shades.
Sooo I’m considering doing Bike & Build again…
As I grabbed a plate of food and began stuffing my face with all the glorious amounts of food I overheard a brief conversation between some of the other riders. “Hey man do you know what day it is?”
“Not sure, I think it’s day 32.”
I had forgotten all about the small wonders of Bike & Build life. Having no idea what day it is and days of the week becoming completely arbitrary. Being completely unsure of exactly where you are or where you are going. All you know is that you’re going to keep biking West until you eventually hit water.
I spoke with some of the other riders about their route and it seemed like Southern Route is kind of the diamond in the rough. I was surprised by the amount of great cities they get to go through. Not only do they get to spend a week building in one of my favorite cities in America, New Orleans, but they also get to stop at the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and Yosemite National Park.
The team reminded me so much of my own team: there was no drama just tons of love. It was basically one big family of amazing people with big hearts. Hanging out with them for the day made me miss the simplicity of Bike & Build life and each day I am considering it more and more to bike across the country again. So who knows, maybe you readers will have another adventure to follow next summer.