Two GW sophomores will begin a 4,000-mile bike ride from New Haven, Conn. to San Francisco May 30.
Evan Johnson and Steve Carlson will join 28 other students from Yale and Villanova universities, the universities of Arizona and Colorado and Virginia Tech this summer for nine weeks to build homes for Habitat for Humanity and see the United States on two wheels.
“This is the best summer to do it. Most of the students doing it are
graduating seniors. I figure by then, I’ll want to be doing other things,” Johnson said.
There will be 60 students on the trip. Thirty will take the northern route from New Haven to Seattle while the rest will take the southern route with Johnson and Carlson. The two groups will stop three times during the trip to build houses.
The group will be biking at a “conversational pace,” Johnson said. Spare tires, water packs and food are the only items the students will carry.
The bikers will ride 40 to 60 miles a day for the first half of the trip and 70 to 105 miles a day for the last half.
The team of cyclists will stop every day at a new place and sleep at churches and recreation centers. Vans of people, called support teams, will meet the students at every destination with their clothing, food and other supplies.
Each bicyclist has to raise $3,500 to go on the trip. So far, Johnson has raised $2,000 and Carlson has raised $2,800. The estimated $210,000 is set to go to Habitat for Humanity to build homes.
“Home builders have contributed $250 so far. My church has contributed $500,” Carlson said.
Family and friends are the biggest contributors, Carlson said.
Habitat for Humanity looks at how much cyclists have volunteered and their character to qualify for the ride, Carlson said.
The only requirement for acceptance to the program, the Habitat Bicycle Challenge, was a thorough physical by the applicant’s physician.
“It was first come, first serve,” Johnson said. “The trip fills up in, like, two months.”
Johnson and Carlson applied for the trip in October.
The two students said their biggest fears were wind and rain. Every bicyclist is required to buy his or her own helmet, rain gear, sunglasses and biking attire. Bikes will be provided by Cannondale while Habitat for Humanity will provide a discount on all other biking items and apparel.
After the students reach their destination in California or Washington, they fly back to their home states.
“Everyone always talks about going abroad and discovering other cultures. I think it’s really important to know your own culture first,” Johnson said.