IamA College Student Who Bike Across America to Raise Money For Affordable Housing (and am doing it again!) AMA!
Hey everyone! My name is Connor O'Brien, and in 2014 I, along with 32 other epic people, rode from Virginia beach VA to Canon Beach Oregon with an affordable housing nonprofit called Bike and Build. Bike and Build is a great organization that helps fight the affordable housing problem in America by having young americans raise money to donate to larger organizations (like habitat for humanity) build homes alongside these organizations, and raise awareness over the problem as we ride across America.
Along the way, we faced hardships, adventures, and cows, and I'd love to tell you all about it!
Shameless Plug: I'm actually going with bike and build again this summer, this time riding from South Carolina to California, and spending a whole week in Colorado building an entire house! Still a little short on my fundraising though, so if you'd like to check it out and give a small donation, please look at http://classic.bikeandbuild.org/rider/8543
My Proof: http://imgur.com/a3xOgsK
Also my blog on the trip:http://lovethehill.blogspot.com/
I dropped my lucky penny in Utah, and this seemed like the most inconspicuous way of going to get it back....
AH is going well, have done my interviews, most of my sweat equity, just need to reply to those weekly email things...
What were some of the complications/mistakes of the first trip you made and how did you prepare differently to avoid running into them again? Thank you!
I rode with underwear my first ride, big mistake. Also, I used the stock saddle, bigger mistake.
What was the hardest obstacle to overcome during your first ride west? Also, did you plan your whole trip? Your route, rooming, and that sort of stuff
Personally my hardest obsticle was biking over some big hills in West Virginia one day early on. My knee gave out on me, so I basically could only bike with one leg. I went at a snails pace, but my friends gave me some ibuprofen, and after a quick lunch talked me through the rest of the day. After that, things got a little easier, and I managed to do the entire trip EFI (every fucking inch).
Luckily we didn't have to. Bike and build organizes all of that for us. We stay at churches mostly, and the folks along the way are usually nice enough to feed us. We carry all our stuff in these little bins, and keep them in a small trailer that a van lugs around
What is your monetary definition of "affordable"?
If you pay less than 30% of your wages on housing at a fair market rate, then that is considered affordable
What got you motivated to start doing this?
It was late one night in the library my sophomore year, and this girl I was working with kept talking about how she had done it. I mean on and on and on. All the adventures she had! When I compared it to my boring summer (being a landscaper listening to audiobooks) I felt like I needed a change. So that night I decided to do it. Everything after that was sort of inertia.
What is your "Go-To" kinda beer?
Haha, I'm more of a cider guy, but I really like Fat tires (I know I know, biking). I actually didn't drink my first trip, because I was only 20, but I did turn 21 on the day we reached the ocean, so I had a bit of an epic 21st!
Really great idea.
I'd absolutely do this during the summer over here in the UK!
How could I get started and, despite the differences geographically, what would be a crucial few tips that you wish you'd have known before setting off? Save me some annoyance and all that :)
WOW EPIC! I'D LOVE TO BIKE THE UK!
First things first, get yourself a decent road bike. I ride a Giant defy 3. Getting into biking is a bit pricey, but well worth it. Get clipless pedals, shoes for them, spandex, spare tubes, a pump and of course a helmet. Since you would be doing it self supported, I'd say you'd also need panniers (saddle bags for yr things)
Start by going on rides, and build up some strength. You should at least train 500 miles before you head out (sorry, am American, can't metric). See if there is anyone in your town into cycling, and ask if you can tag along on rides. Theres usually plenty of groups that go out. Also, plan your route out, pick less busy roads, look up UK cycling laws, set daily goals about where you will stay and eat, and see if a friend or two wants to join you. Thankfully a lot of this does not apply to me because I'm going through an organization.
Things I wish I knew: Never wear underwear with spandex! (another layer for germs and unnecessary. Get a good saddle (your arse will thank you) and RIDE RIDE RIDE.
Holy shit this seems way more serious than I'd imgained!
I thought I could just jump on some sort of bike and set off.
Maybe some of the novelty of the whole thing can be that I'm terrible.
But in all seriousness though I'd look forward to training, getting out in preparation, finding the right bike (the one you have looks really nice btw, something like that would help me along nicely), etc.
There are a few nice routes round here (South Wales) and so I can get out and about with local groups who make the most of them hopefully.
And haha awesome tip. I will be sure to keep that in mind. Though now I'm I've got a paranoia about falling off, tearing the spandex, and trying desperately to cope with a package hanging out. I'm sure that's not the main thing I need to be concerned about anyway.
you also will probably fall off. Lord knows I have. Just laugh and get back up
Hello Connor! What was your favorite thing about your first Bike & Build trip? Do you plan on doing anything differently the second time around?
Favorite thing? Oh god there were so many favorites. Naked miles, fried chicken, hitting 45 mph, making a music video, apple pie, cows, elk jerky..........I plan to interact more with the locals this time, and push myself a bit more.
How many mpg does your bike get?
Well, we used bicycles, sorry for any confusion! But considering that I drank about 2 gallons a day, and we biked and average of 75 miles everyday......37.5 MPG
I am unclear as to which America you rode your bike across, care to elaborate?
Obviously the best one.
Does is scare you at all that two people died last year doing bike and build? What do you do to stay safe?
Edit: only one person died.
One person died last year, not two, and not particularly. The odds of me dying are low, Bike and Build spends a lot of time making us as safety conscious as possible, and if I die I die, no use being scared about it.
Why did you decide to go to Ukraine for the Peace Corps?
Because I want to help people, and I've never really been to Europe, and it might help me down the road to join the State Department
Well, actually, none of us were from VB. We came from all over, mostly the East Coast. We picked the route on Bike and Build, ours was the central route. We went from VA to WV Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon.
We rode road bikes, so we always used the road. NEVER THE SIDEWALKS, way too dangerous, could hit someone, plus the way they are build slows us down so much. Usually we tried to stay on roads with two lanes, to make it easy for cars to pass us, as well as picking less busy roads. We understand that it can delay people sometimes, but we pick our routes for safety. I however, understand that some cyclists are not very mindful of cars, and often are not polite. Usually if we notice a big traffic jam, we get off the road and let it pass. Angry drivers=stupid drivers=dangerous drivers.
Any advice for someone new to biking?
Just bike as much as possible, until your bike is a part of you. Don't skip on the hills, you need them to get your legs tough. Also, pro tip, tuck your pants into your socks, makes it so your pants don't catch.
Connor, one of your fearless leaders on the SC2SC here! So proud of your redditting and knew one day my ghost account would come in handy.
What made you want to repeat a B&B summer this year???? Where do you stand on finishing up your AH Curriculum? ;)
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