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Friday, July 16, 2010

Bikers lend helping hands

From the Post Register:

IDAHO FALLS - For most college-age -- and sometimes, slightly older -- adults, summer is a time for relaxing, working on a tan or perhaps earning a few dollars to get them through the next semester.

But for those who sign up for Bike and Build, summer is a time to get to know the United States from a bicycle seat, help build affordable homes for needy folks and, along the way, burn about 200,000 calories.

A group of 31 Bike and Build members was in Idaho Falls on Thursday to help spruce up the area's new Habitat for Humanity headquarters on Northgate Mile. Armed with brushes, hammers and putty knives, the riders set to work repairing and painting the walls of the former Second Time Around Consignments store.

Karen Lansing, executive director of the Idaho Falls-area Habitat for Humanity, said volunteers like the Bike and Build crew are used to doing any type of work that doesn't specifically require a license.

"Basically, we'll do whatever they want us to do," said Jen Carboni, a 25-year-old graduate of New England College in New Hampshire, where she earned a degree in biology. "We've done everything from moving piles of dirt around to putting up drywall to roofing (and) flooring."

Every summer, Bike and Build organizes several bike trips across the United States. Every few days, participants stop and help build a home for a nonprofit affordable housing group or, as in Idaho Falls, help the group restore its own buildings. On average, they ride about 70 miles per day, burning somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 calories per day.

The group of 19 women and 12 men that arrived in Idaho Falls rode from Jackson, Wyo., on Tuesday and will leave today for Arco. Their 3,827-mile trip, which started in Virginia, will end in Cannon Beach, Ore., in late July.

Sarah Graham, a 20-year-old English major at Truman State University in Missouri, said her friends often ask why she would give up her summer to ride across the country, but Graham has a different perspective.

"I haven't given anything up. I've gained a lot along the way," she said. "It's been the best experience I've ever had in my entire life."

Thanks in part to Bike and Build, Habitat for Humanity's new building is within a few weeks of being ready to open, Lansing said. Since the first of the month, she said volunteers have dedicated more than 200 working hours to fixing up the building.

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