Housing cycles

Jessica Crumpler of Winston-Salem, N.C., (left) and Karen Goudreau of Cleveland, Ohio, help put a new roof on a home Wednesday in the Ponderosa subdivision in West Ashley. They were working with the Bike&Build organization, which is a group of college-age

A group of young adults from Bike & Build started a mission of house-building this week in West Ashley as they begin a cross-country journey of service.

Bike & Build is a nonprofit that promotes affordable housing by traveling through numerous states on bicycles.

"Affordable housing is what everyone needs but not necessarily understands," said Megan O'Brien, one of the trip leaders. "You should only pay 30 percent on housing and utilities, but 95 million people pay more than that."

The organization works on houses and gives presentations and talks to the public. "You definitely need a house, but you should be able to afford it at the same time because you have to worry about things, such as health and education for your kids," O'Brien said.

"Otherwise it would lead to the spiral of poverty."

On this trip, there are 31 adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

"Most of us here are college students or in graduate school, so we are all youth-oriented," said O'Brien, who is 22 and just graduated from college.

"Some of us here have done other bike trips because most of us love to travel," she said. "It's a beautiful way to see the country. Some people usually don't travel throughout America, but we are able to go through and see places like Alabama or Oklahoma City."

During the three-month trip, which travels from Charleston to Santa Cruz, Calif., the cyclists will work in Athens, Ga.; Boise, Idaho; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Decatur, Ala.; and other locations.

The volunteers are required to ride 500 miles and complete one ride that is at least 65 miles long in order to be prepared for the long distance. O'Brien said that hours are spent training and finding the safest routes.

"We will take more country and state roads while we are in the East, but when we are in the West we will ride on the interstate for places such as Colorado have lanes for bike-riders to travel on."

As they travel throughout the states building houses, the group will stay at churches, gyms and YMCAs in order to reduce costs. Each rider has raised $4,000, and by the end of the summer they plan to give $500,000 to different affordable housing causes, Habitat for Humanity organizations and other smaller avenues.

Even though the volunteers were only doing rehabilitation work Wednesday to a home's roof on Hitching Post Road, its current resident Joe Robinson, was satisfied.

"It's great. It's a good thing to have," he said. The volunteers worked at a steady pace throughout the day, and said they were inspired to be doing it.

"I'm really excited to meet new friends all in a good cause," said Angela Chen, a recent college graduate. "It's really great that we'll be making such a big impact."

The Bike & Build cyclists will dip their wheels in the Atlantic Ocean today on Sullivan's Island to officially begin their cycling trip across the country.