Riding a bike is not a skill people are born with, but learning to do so is in many ways a rite of passage. Grace Galvin, a fourth-year in art education, did not always know how to ride a bike either. But as so many people do, she learned.
Now, nearly two decades after leaving the training wheels behind, Galvin will use her 16 years of biking experience to ride across the U.S. with the organization Bike & Build, whose goal is to create affordable housing — one bike ride at a time. This is a cause Galvin said she is deeply passionate about.
“I first applied because one of my best friends from high school did it,” Galvin said. “He said it was the most life-changing experience he’s ever had.”
And Galvin, who has raised $4,227 at the time of this story’s publication, said she believes it will be just as rewarding and world-altering an experience for her.
According to Bike & Build’s website, collectively $5.1 million has been raised for building houses through partners like Habitat for Humanity, and more than 8.5 million miles have been biked by young adults engaged in the program to “pedal for affordable housing.”
Galvin said she learned at an early age how people without access to affordable housing are affected, especially while she was working at a local soup kitchen.
“The church that I went to was in downtown Cleveland, and that neighborhood was stricken by poverty and homelessness,” she said.
The 3,984 mile trip will begin June 20 in Portland, Maine and will come to a close August 28 in Palmdale, California, with a stop in Columbus along the way.
Galvin said the furthest she has ever ridden her bike was around 70 miles, the distance of a light biking day on this trip. But despite the distance and difficulties she may encounter, Galvin and her parents remain excited.
“My dad runs marathons and is really active, and I feel like he’s trying to live vicariously through me this summer,” Galvin said while laughing.
Galvin’s father, Jeff, said he is excited for his daughter and her trip across the country.
“My concerns lie only with people maneuvering 3500 lb steel weapons that will be sharing the road with the riders,” he said.
But he added he was mostly envious that his daughter will get a valuable experience.
“How incredible is it that there are young adults out there willing to put their butts on the line–literally and figuratively–for something so important and selfless as this,” he said.
Galvin said, as a college student, the trip is coming at a perfect time in her life.
“Coming to college makes you grow a lot as a person … and I think I’m ready for an adventure,” she said.