Biking and BuildingGAMBIER, Ohio (July 20, 2006) For two months this summer, Shawn Gulati, Class of 2008, is off his feet and on a seat, pumping pedals and wearing out wheels for charity. A regular on Kenyon's cross country and track rosters, Gulati temporarily set aside his running spikes to become involved with Bike and Build, an organization that challenges its participants to assist in affordable housing construction while on cross-country cycling treks.
Riders mounted up in mid-May near Virginia Beach, Virginia, for a journey that encompasses more than 3,000 miles through 13 states, with a final stop in Cannon Beach, Oregon. Each person in Gulati's 30-member team raised $4,000 in advance and could bring no more than a small duffle bag crammed with essentials. Each day, Gulati churns out an average of 80 miles.
Stops include building sheds, hauling gravel, and constructing framework or roofing for predetermined housing projects. Campgrounds, churches, and community centers become one-day homes for the group.
"It's something new and it's definitely a great learning experience," says Gulati. "I'm usually one of those people who have to check my e-mail ten times a day. But on this trip, many times I have no idea what day it is or what's going on in the world."
To Gulati, it sometimes seems that he isn't there to cycle, but rather to become part of a bigger cycle: the cycle of people helping other people. While providing shelter for the less fortunate, he in turn relies on others for his own basic needs. Gulati believes that the most amazing and overwhelming portion of his journey isn't the sights, the buildings, or the bikes; it isn't even his desire to overcome the challenge of a cross-country bike ride. It's simply the generosity of the people.