PNT Photo: Eric Butler Tatiana Cook, 19, a student at Dartmouth, uses her uniform to show routes for the Bike & Build cycling trips this summer. Cook’s group started in Boston and arrived in Portales Wednesday.
By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico
For a second time this summer, a group of bicyclists passed through Portales in a coast-to-coast adventure to raise money for charity.
But don’t get the idea there are cyclists all over the United States doing this.
Tatiana Cooke, 19, of Bike & Build told a different story Wednesday during a rest night at Eastern New Mexico University.
“We’ve only seen one (biker). It was a French guy and, unfortunately, I was the only person on the trip who didn’t meet him,” Cooke said. “And I also happen to be the only one on the tour who speaks French.”
Cooke, a student at Dartmouth, and 31 other riders left Boston June 17 en route to their final destination — Santa Barbara, Calif., on Aug. 20.
Seven other Bike & Build groups are also traveling cross country using different routes.
This troupe started Tuesday by mounting their bikes in Hereford. Only a day before, the participants were in Amarillo — helping build a house.
“We raise money and awareness for affordable housing along the way,” Cooke said. “In eight of the towns we stop in, we help with local build sites for organizations like Habitat for Humanity.”
Each rider raised $4,000 to be part of the trip and chooses one organization to donate $500. The rest of the money is collected and then divvied up to charities by Bike & Build headquarters.
Today, the cyclists head to Roswell.
Less than a month ago, a group of bicyclists for the Journey of Hope fundraiser came through Portales in the opposite direction.
Denis de Verteuil, 23, who just graduated from Ohio State University, said he heard of the Bike & Build venture through word of mouth and calls the experience “crazy.”
“Just the people you meet, the things you run into, storms, living conditions, food — or lack thereof — build-site shenanigans,” de Verteuil said. “But it’s been an adventure because you wake up each day not knowing what you’re going to do. Except that you need to get to the next town by bicycle.”