Exuberance and elation mixed in with a little exhaustion was the pervasive mood of a group of cyclists arriving in Devils Lake late Wednesday afternoon. The team of 30 cyclists were part of a Bike and Build, a national group that organizes cross country bike journeys to raise money for and awareness of affordable housing charities.
The team, known as the Northern Route, began its trek June 22 in Portsmouth, N.H. The cyclists had traveled more than 2,000 miles when they stopped in Devils Lake Wednesday afternoon. The day had begun in Crookston, Minn., at 6 a.m., according to one of the group's leaders, Erin Tornello of Washington, Va., who said the group typically rides about 70 miles each day.
In addition cyclist Aaron Goldstein, 24, of New York, said the group encountered heavy winds almost the entire day. At one point, he said the winds began to swirl and dark clouds gathered, making the group wonder if they might be riding into a storm.
"The day was a little brutal, and days like that can be emotionally draining," Goldstein said.
However, riders arriving at Devils Lake's River of Life church, where the group was spending the night, were excited and energetic, with members who had already arrived cheering them on and high-fiving each other.
According to Goldstein, Bike and Build team members are in their 20s, many of them college students. To train for the race, cyclists must ride at least 500 miles and make a minimum of one day-long 60 mile ride, "the cyclists sweat equity," Goldstein said. Group members also must each raise $4,500.
At some stops Goldstein said, time permitting, they have a prom night utilizing clothing from local thrift shops. However, as the final riders trickled into Devils Lake after their grueling day, showers, laundry and food were foremost on their minds with several cyclists searching for local laundromats on their Smartphones.
Devils Lake's River of Life church has been hosting the group each summer for the last 10 years. The Northern Route, which is one of eight Bike and Ride annual cross country trips, will end its 70-day journey Aug. 28 in Vancouver, B.C., with team members completing 3,757 miles and raising $165,358 for affordable housing.
For more information about Bike and Build, visit http://bikeandbuild.org/cms/