About the Bicycle Challenge
The Habitat Bicycle Challenge is the brainchild of Antony Brydon, Yale University ’95, who decided to spend a summer biking from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. After some slick salesmanship, he convinced seven other students to ride with him and several companies to sponsor their trip. That summer, the riders carried all their gear with them and camped out every night; three months and 5,000 miles later, they reached the Pacific.
Since its early years, the Habitat Bicycle Challenge has changed dramatically. Most obviously, it’s gotten a lot bigger, fielding three trips of thirty riders each. This not only allows HBC to raise more money (more than enough to fund an entire construction project), but also lets us introduce more communities around the country to the amazing work that Habitat does.
A Day in the Life
Every day, HBC riders rise with the sun, cleaning up and cooking breakfast before hitting the road. After biking hard through the cooler morning hours, they stop to eat a lunch provided by support staff, then push on through the afternoon. Along the way, riders stop in towns and rest areas to explain the trip’s purpose to curious motorists and residents. Finally, after anywhere from 50 and 150 miles of riding, the bikers coast into their destination.
HBC trips usually stay with churches and community groups, who give them dinner and a floor to sleep on. Before turning in for the night, though, the riders take the opportunity to make a presentation about Habitat for Humanity and try to convince their hosts to start a local Habitat chapter.
At several points along the way, each trip stops and spend a day building a house with the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. These days are not only a welcome break from cycling, but a chance to reflect on the purpose of the trip. HBC isn’t just a pack of college kids out for a summer adventure; it’s a committed group of people trying to raise money and awareness for a great cause.
How It Works
Before even leaving New Haven, each HBC rider must raise at least $4,000, though many riders raise much more. Most riders solicit donations using a combination of methods – they canvass door-to-door, write letters, and seek sponsorships from local businesses. Several leaders work throughout the year to plan the trip, lining up corporate sponsors, contacting churches and community centers along the routes, and helping cyclists with their fundraising. By the end of May, all the money is in and the trips head west.