Bike to Build to return to Boothbay Harbor

United Methodist Church to play host
Posted:  Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - 7:00am

On June 12, as many as 30 youthful bicyclists will pedal into Boothbay Harbor promoting the cause of affordable housing.

Bike and Build combines bicycle touring with assistance to agencies such as Habitat for Humanity. The organization is an offshoot of the Yale University chapter of Habitat for Humanity. 

Since 2003, the independent nonprofit with its home base in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has offered a program that brings grants and hands-on assistance to local affordable housing projects as well as cross-country bike tours for youth between the ages of 18 and 26.

“We work with hundreds of agencies,” said Matt Hartman, director of outreach for the program.

In an 11-week, cross-nation tour, participants cycle from town to town interrupted with stays of a day or more to assist home construction and renovation projects.

The visitors to Boothbay Harbor are part of a shorter, three-week tour called “Coastal Drift.” Their route will begin in Bar Harbor and end in New York City.

“It is a nice snapshot,” said Hartman.

He said that participants are not expected to have extensive construction experience. The volunteers are given tasks that fit their skill levels.

“One quarter of the time we are building,” he said. The stay at construction sites is typically one day to one week.

Entry into the program requires an essay, a  medical examination and some fitness training. The cost is $2,250 for the drift tours and $4,500 for the cross-country expedition.

“Eighty-five percent goes to programming and grants,” said Hartman. Each cyclist is guaranteed lodging, food, and is provided with a touring bicycle. Services along the way are coordinated so that, “every rider will have a roof over their head.”  

In Boothbay Harbor the group will be staying overnight at the United Methodist Church.

Maggie Tourtillotte will coordinate efforts to welcome the cyclists. She is planning an afternoon cookout and breakfast snack for the visitors. The cyclists will sleep in the church basement. She has also talked with the YMCA to open its doors for an early shower before the cyclists hit the road Monday morning. 

Tourtilllotte said the church was impressed with last year’s visit.

”It was wonderful,” she said.

The next work site will be in Portland beginning on June 14. According to program information, Bike and Build has contributed more than $4.5 million to fund projects as of the 2013 project season. In 2015, Coastal Drift raised $69,996.