After bicycling 4,009 miles and taking part in 17 days worth of construction projects, Alicia Marvin is back home in Burlington. The 25-year-old mixed fitness with social responsibility, completing a three-month trek with the Bike and Build program.
Bike and Build raises awareness and money for affordable housing projects. Bicyclists also take part in the building process along their trek.
Marvin’s group of 27 cyclists rode from Florida to California, stopping to do construction work for five days in New Orleans, and two days each in Mobile, Ala., and Dallas. The group also made several single-day stops of volunteer work.
Their efforts included building a playground and clearing a dry river bed in New Mexico, doing landscape work in Deep South communities and taking on finishing work like painting and trim.
The most rewarding day, Marvin said, came when the group framed a house in Dallas. “When we got there,” Marvin said, “it was a blank concrete slab, but when we left it looked like a house.”
For many Vermonters, fitness and social responsibility go hand-in-hand. There are numerous charity walks on the annual calendar, and other events such as the recent Kelly Brush Foundation’s Century Ride that drew hundreds of participants.
Some fitness enthusiasts, such as Marvin, take their commitment to both exercise and good works to a remarkably high level.
Before embarking on her cross-country journey, Marvin raised more than $4,500 for the program. She said she found the trip so rewarding she might do another trek in a few years, this time as a group leader. The high point was riding through New Mexico on the Fourth of July. One of her fellow cyclists attached a 10-foot pole to his bike to hold a five-by-eight foot American flag which he carried for 115 hilly miles. Numerous cars honked as they drove by or shouted encouragement out their windows. One woman stopped to thank him for his patriotism and to tell him her son had just been awarded a Purple Heart for his service in Afghanistan.