Our first build was with Orange County Habitat for Humanity in Chapel Hill, NC. We worked on shingling roofs in the hot sun all day. It was amazing to see how much work 30 + people can get done with good leadership, The site manager were very patient and taught us lots of tricks of the trade. Hoyle and Janet also came around to share more cookies as well as some helpful advice and encouragement. Ultimately, we nearly finished three roofs in 2 days!
Today we had a build day in Charlotte, NC. We got to build a frame from the 2x4's to the sheet rock. Its one of the most rewarding build experiences to build a frame. When you arrive at the site it is simply level ground of cement. By the end of the day, a brand new structure is standing. Hammering was much harder on the frame, particularly for getting nails in to the cement to stabilize the frame and getting nails in to the sheet rock. I hammered my thumb so many times, it almost brought me to tears. Hopefully by the time I get to the next build site, I will be better at aiming a hammer.
On another note, we're getting better at riding together on rides. I'm feeling more confident riding in traffic. The patterns of ride days are also becoming routine. On long days, like our last two 80 miles rides, we wake up at 4:3 0 a.m. to be able to roll out by sunrise. We stop for lunch between 40 and 50 miles and finish up before 4. On the last ride in to Charlotte, it was kind of a funny ride. I started the day riding with just one other rider, Vinnny, We were fairly close in skill level and had a very smooth ride until the snack drop around mile 30. At that point Mary joined our group and the three of us rolled along. Lunch was supposed to be 20 miles out, but we missed a turn and ended up riding an extra 6 miles. We pushed through til lunch and rolled out again. Little did we know, we missed another turn and this time, ended up 13 miles off route. We didn't feel so bad though, because 7 other riders were as lost as we were and met up together. Unfortunately because it was getting late and we have to be respectful of our hosts, we had to call the van to pick us all up. Ultimately, we fit 8 bikes into the trailer that was already stuffed with bins in addition to 12 people and 4 more bikes in the van.
I was a little upset knowing that just 12 days in, I've already missed a ride. I was especially angry that I was being picked up because of time, and not necessarily for safety or because I was injured. However, I'm coming to terms with the experience as is. Bike & Build is not so much about the accomplishment of biking across the country as it is making an impact. If I have to ride in the van, it doesn't mean that my summer will have less of an impact than if I rode all 3,593 miles. The most important thing is all of the homes and lives we will touch along the way.