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8/26 SANTA BARBARA!!!

After over 4,000 miles, 72 days, 19 states, 3 new tires, 4 pairs of sunglasses, 15 flat tires, smiles, cries, sunshine, rain, sweat, tanlines, and endless amounts of peanut butter, bagels, cookies, and sunscreen, Bike and Build Maine to Santa Barbara made it. After a very late night and only 3 hours of sleep, the alarm went off at 5 and, more than 3 hours later, we hit the road ready for the Pacific Ocean. I rode with sweep today and about half way into our 40 mile ride, we saw the coast. The next 20 miles were spent actually going north along the coast to Santa Barbara. To be honest, it was slightly aggravating to see the ocean and the beach but still have 20 miles to go. However, it was pretty incredible riding along this picturesque ocean front with mountains in the background. All 32 of us met up 5 miles out so that we could ride the last little bit of our journey as one. It was absolutely crazy, a pack of 32 riders taking over the entire road. When we got to the beach all of the family and friends who had come out to tire dip cheered us on as we threw out bikes down and sprinted into the water. So many emotions were going on in my head right now. Excited, upset, happy, relieved, sad, longing. It’s hard to describe the beach celebration. So much splashing, jumping, yelling, laughing, hugging, crying. It’s the accumulation of all of the emotions you had over the past 10 weeks in just 10 minutes. After the craziness and excitement started to die down and riders had greeted their loved ones, we officially dipped our front tire into the Pacific. We made it Coast to Coast.
Everything after the tire dip just seems like added fluff. More hugs, crying, and champagne toasts followed. It was so funny to meet everyone’s family after having heard so much about them on our rides together. It felt like we already knew them before we ever actually did. Eventually, we made the 6 mile drive to our host, St. Mary’s Seminary. We could not have possibly had a more incredible final host. Situated high up in the mountains over looking the ocean with massive gardens sourrounding the property, its possibly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The next 36 hours were filled with exploring Santa Barbara and sad goodbyes as one by one riders left for the real world.
It’s hard to imagine that this whole adventure is coming to an end. Not only did I have an experience of a life time and create friendships that will last forever, but I was also part of a movement that is trying to solve the affordable housing crisis. I’ve learned so much over the past 10 weeks – whether it’s about affordable housing, bikes, or myself – that I will take with me for the rest of my life. There is no real way to describe how incredible my summer was. Sleeping on a floor for 72 days, going to bed at 12 and waking up at 4 to ride 80 miles, downing gas station slurpees, showering in hoses, reaching 50 mph on a 12 mile downhill, swimming in friendly strangers’ pools, saddle sores, tanlines, 118 degree heat, demolishing buildings, and sleeping in a room with 32 of my best friends laid down like sardines across the floor. I’ll have these memories with me for ever.

Thank you so much for following my journey. Without your support, my summer would not have been possible.

Until Next Time,
Taylor Burdge

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Our shortest day of the trip took us throughout the orchards of CA. Our morning started in the fog and it didnt burn off until the early afternoon. We passed hundreds of orange trees which was especially odd coming from Florida. The oranges were so picturesque in front of the palm trees and mountains. I’ve said it many times but I absolutely love CA and now I am gaining a whole new appreciation for southern CAL. The weather is great, there’s hiking nearby, you’re on the coast. It has everything I want! Santa Paula is a quaint town with 85% of the population Hispanic. The large percentage has a lot to do with how dependent the town is on the agriculture industry. We spent of the rest of the day wandering around. The night was very sentimental because it was our last night together just the 32 of us. It’s hard to imagine that this whole journey is coming to an end. These people have truly become my family and words cannot express how much I care for them. We have spent so much time together over the past weeks that we know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and love them truly for who they are. It’s really special.
Until tomorrow… TB

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8/24 Santa Clarita

Only 41 miles! Our ride was absolutely incredible. It took us through the mountains that make up the outskirts of LA on small country roads passed horse farms, vineyards and massive mountains. We would ride down into these little valleys that were full of bright green trees. It reminded me of why I love CA. I love the contrast of the landscape. The mountains are dry and a burnt brown tan and adjacent to bright orange rocky clay cliffs. But then as you look at the base of the mountains, it’s surrounded by these luscious trees and red bushes. On our way, we followed this creek that turned into a series of waterfalls that I proceeded to climb throughout and swim in. It’s probably my favorite scenery and I cannot wait to be in CA this fall. Quite suddenly, the country ended and we were in Santa Clarita, a massive suburb. Normally, I am not a huge fan of the strip malls and chains that make up suburbia but after spending the past 5 weeks in the absolute middle of no where, I welcomed the malls, wide busy roads and department stores. We even went to a mall for the second half of the day. Everyone looked so out of place wandering around with our safety triangles on our backpacks. It was great to have a mindless day and shop!

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Our last build day! It’s hard to imagine that they have all passed by. Today we were demolishing a building that was going to be turned into apartment complexes. I worked tearing down the entire bathroom and tiled shower and it was one of the toughest jobs I had had on bike and build thus far. When we finished, we spent the next 4.5 hours as a group deciding where the money we had raised was going to go. It was quite an impressive exercise of democracy. I think everyone agrees that the entire process went smoothly and was relatively pleased with the outcome. It’s hard to believe that we only have 4 days left of this entire journey.
Until tomorrow… TB

 I cannot believe we are already in California.  We had to shuttle riders to Barstow, CA because there was absolutely no way to get there from Baker.  Unfortunately, there was absolutely nothing to do in Barstow.  We were staying in a homeless shelter that didn’t have any AC and it was so hot out (the hottest day I have ever experience) that we could not walk anywhere without being overwhelmed.  I tried to find somewhere with AC or wifi and was not successful.  We were staying in a poor area of Barstow and the homeless shelter was a very eye opening experience for us all.  We could not drink any of the water in Barstow either because it was contaminated.  Everyone was very nice and welcoming but I think we were all ready to leave in the morning.

Our ride into Palmdale was awesome.  The weather had finally cooled off and it even rained in the afternoon.  The roads were busy but we had finally gotten out of the Mojave Desert, so we didn’t have to worry about running out of water quite the same way.  Palmdale is located in the outskirts of LA, still in the desert.  We are staying at Palmdale Youthbuild which is a charter school for secondchase students.  Students ages 17-24 without a highschool degree undergo a rigorous application process to be accepted into the program.  Students then build twice a week, go to classes twice a week, and attend a leadership training program once a week.  All of the students are either black or Hispanic and have proven themselves physically, mentally, and intellectually apt for the program.  It was very interesting and I think we are all intrigued to build with them tomorrow.  

Until tomorrow…

TB

8/20 – Baker CA

The desert makes you crazy. It must be all the hot dry air or the lack of people but there’s something about the desert that makes people not think straight. I woke up after a wonderful nights sleep (my friends who went to Vegas would probably not say the same) and was immediately overwhelmed with the idea that I would be starting my rowing career at Stanford in a month. One month. I had not been on a boat or erg for almost 10 weeks, a first for me. I had gotten into a lull when it came to biking. My heartrate rarely rose and I had gotten quite comfortable. This got me even more worried. I cannot quite explain my logic, but I needed to prove to myself that everything was OK and challenge myself in a way I hadn’t in quite a while. KG and Morgan, my temporary mothers and two of my bestfriends on the trip, understood where I was coming from and challenged me to bike 140 miles in one day. So, I rose to the challenge. I would bike back and forth, sprinting forward and then sprinting back to them. It was great, just what I needed to soothe my insanity. It didn’t matter that it was our hottest day of the trip (118) and that I was riding through the Mojave Desert. KG, and (later) Collin were fully supportive of me and, after we had finished the actual trip, we turned around and finished up the remaining miles. I finished that day with my goal made. 140 miles in one day. I was doing this for myself only and It felt so refreshing to really see how far I could go in one day. The ride was awesome. I had over 200 oz of water on me and stopped every hour to lather on as much sunblock as I possibly could. Maybe it was the gas station slushie at the end of first leg that gave us the extra fuel but we felt so good and I averaged 17.9 mph for the entire 140 miles. I cannot quite explain why I decided to bike for 10 hours in 118 degrees in the desert. I guess, like I said, the desert just makes you crazy.
Until tomorrow…
TB

I must apologize for my delayed post. As this whole crazy journey starts to come to an end, I find myself always making excuses for why I have not yet blogged. The towns have been desolate and empty with no access to wifi and often no cell service. The ride into Kingman, AZ brought us into the Mojave Desert. Its surreal. I suprisingly really enjoy the desert. It reminds of the ocean: vast openness and you can see nothing for miles and miles and miles except cacti and joshua trees. The heat is intense and has been upwards of 115 for the past week. It beats down on you as you bike, wearing you down every mile. The wind in the desert blows the sand everywhere and it feels like many little needles poking your skin. The roads are beat up and look like they haven’t seen life in decades. But dispite all these negatives, I still seem to really entranced. Biking through desert feels like flying. No cars, no people, no life, no worries. You can ride in the middle of the road completely naked and not have to worry about anyone! I wonder how many people have actually seen the Mojave Desert. The only town we passed through during an over 100 mile stretch had a population of 22 people. The towns on the outskirts have their own challenges. In Kingman, the tap water is never cold and is usually 96 degrees when it comes out of the faucet. The water pipes were not buried down deep enough so the sun heats them up all during the day. Imagine turning on your sink and not having cold water or not being able to take a cold shower.
The ride into Searchlight NV took us through more stretches of the Mojave Desert.
Nevada is an interesting state. The people are some of the nicest I have encountered on the trip thus far. While biking, cars would stop to make sure we were OK. Sheriffs would pull over to see if we needed water. The odd part about it though is how every gas station, grocery store, etc. has slot machines in them. Its like the adult equivalent of those children toy machines you see when you walk in the door. People will be playing on these machines at like 7 in the morning – its totally normal to them. We were in the southern end of Nevada – about 90 miles south of Las Vegas – in Searchlight NV. We were staying at the only place that would take us in – a motel – sharing 3 rooms with 32 people. We all had very low expectations for Searchlight, so several people decided to organize a bus to go to Las Vegas for the night. The bus would leave the motel we were staying at at 5 pm and get back at 1:30 am. Being one of 3 who are underage, we were encouraged not to go because of the 10 pm curfew laws on the streets. So, all but 6 people departed on a party bus to Las Vegas leaving the underagers (Steph, Adrianna, and me), KG, Jessica, and Alyssa, to explore the small town of Searchlight NV on our own. And explore we did! Searchlight was by far the most welcoming town we had all ever been in. After eating dinner in the only restaraunt in town, we heard of a horseshoe game going on and decided to check it out. As soon as we walked in, we were overwhelmed with friendly greetings, handshakes, and hellos. As soon as they heard we were raising money, they started forking over cash as a donation. It quickly became a competition “I gave $20, how much did you give? Oh you gave $30? oh well I gave $40!” It was the most generous that any community had ever been! Searchlight is a very small town of only about 800 people who are mainly in the construction industry. Many of them had never even heard of Habitat for Humanity and could not get over the fact that there was an organization that would do such a thing for others. Of the 30 people at the horseshoe game, we were given $130 in pocket cash! They offered us a police escort out of Searchlight in the morning and everything. Of course, we tried to play a round with them but were easily beaten. I am so glad that I did not go to Vegas and just goes to show how the kindness in people’s hearts. Such an amazing day.
Until tomorrow… TB

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