Student to bike miles for charity
Talk about having a strong wheelpower. This summer, Baker College junior Matthew Nanes is embarking on a bike ride from Providence, R.I. to Seattle, Wash. to raise money and awareness for affordable housing.
Nanes will ride nearly 4,000 miles across the U.S. with 30 other college-age participants as part of Bike & Build, which organizes cross-country bicycle trips to benefit affordable housing groups. Each rider will raise $4,000 or more, almost all of which is used to build housing.
The bikers' journey will start on June 13 and end August 21, riding an average of about 70-75 miles per day, with 12 "build days" where they will work on building houses in different towns and five rest days at different points.
One of the goals of Bike & Build is to make it across the country in a cheap and simple manner so that as much of their money as possible can go toward building. Meals will often be donated to them, and at night they will usually stay in churches or community centers, resting on sleeping bags they carry on their ride. Their route and stops are planned beforehand, and the bikers will generally try not to deviate from the course.
"We ride every day regardless of weather, unless there's some kind of imminent danger," Nanes said. "It might be 100 degrees going across the plains and below 40 degrees crossing the Rockies, but we sort of just power through."
When asked how he had been training for the ride, Nanes said that he typically bikes on weekend mornings to wherever he can go around Houston. Although his longest bike ride has only been 40 miles and he says he is not an experienced cyclist, Nanes said he has an endurance athlete history and has run several marathons before.
Nanes' first exposure helping with the affordable housing problem was in high school, when he volunteered with Habitat for Humanity.
"Housing, and in particular owning your own home, can make a huge difference in someone's life," Nanes said. "It gives you somewhere safe to go home to every day and is one big thing you don't have to worry about."
Nanes added that aside from the charitable aspect of the ride, he is also looking forward to the journey itself for personal reasons.
"My secondary goal is that I'm excited to see the country," Nanes said. "I studied abroad last spring and had a lot of fun, but I also realized I had not seen much of my own country. I can't think of a better way to see it than on a bike."
He is almost halfway towards meeting his goal of raising $4,000, and said that some of the most generous contributors have been from around Rice. Each house the group builds typically costs around $6,000, he said.
"Whether you're donating enough to buy a nail or a brick, every little bit helps," Nanes said. "Very little of it goes to the organization itself, as it pretty much ends up all going to building houses and helping people."
To learn more about Bike & Build, visit www.bikeandbuild.org. Click the blue "Donate" button and Matthew Nanes' name to donate and support his ride.
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