Cyclist with a cause

GVSU graduate to participate in Bike & Build this summer

By Carly Simpson | 5/3/14 5:18pm


GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Colin Kameraad, Grand Valley student and bicyclist, plans to make a journey across the the United State this summer. Over the past few months, he has trained vigourously in preparation for his intense voyage.

After graduating, many students are on the lookout for one last adventure to add to the books before they join the real world. Grand Valley State University graduate Colin Kammeraad has found his. This summer, Kammeraad is biking over 3,800 miles from Portsmouth, N.H. to Vancouver, British Colombia.

The trip is through Bike & Build, a national nonprofit organization that raises funds for affordable housing groups throughout the U.S. to finance building projects. Kammeraad is one of the 30 members of the Northern U.S. Team. Their journey will begin on June 12 and end 10 weeks later on August 21.

This won’t be Kammeraad’s first time volunteering. While at GVSU, he went on several trips through Alternative Breaks, a program that organizes volunteer experiences for GVSU students over winter and spring breaks and on several weekends throughout the school year. Kammeraad’s time spent with Alternative Breaks motivated him to join Bike & Build.

“After graduating I wanted to continue serving others and I think everyone wants an adventure,” he said. “Riding across the U.S. will definitely be an adventure.”

The riders will average 70 miles a day, although some days they will have to bike over 100 miles. The longest ride will be 116 miles in one day to reach Devils Lake, N.D. This is the equivalent of five roundtrip bike rides from the Kirkhof Center on GVSU’s Allendale Campus to the Eberhard Center at the Pew Campus in downtown Grand Rapids.

“This will be my first big bike trip,” Kammeraad said. “I’ve been riding my entire life and running so endurance athletics isn’t new to me, but riding an average of 70 miles a day will be something new.

“…no doubt we’re all nervous about riding the 116 miles but I think we’ll all have fun while we’re doing it.”

The team will spend their nights at churches, community centers and schools along their route. Some nights they’ll spend camping.

“I’ve been contemplating what to take for the past couple weeks and I still don’t know what to pack. We have to pack light so I’m not taking my Sunday best, that’s for sure,” Kammeraad joked.

During the ride, the team will stop in several cities to work on housing projects in the area. They will have a total of 10 build days and team members will also give several presentations to community members about different housing issues in the U.S.

In 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 40 million households could not afford to rent or own a home. In addition, over 20 million spent more than half of their income on housing costs. The Department of Housing and Urban Development considers housing to be affordable to a low-income family if the cost, including rent or mortgage payments and basic utilities, does not exceed 30 percent of a household’s gross income.

Since its start in 2002, Bike & Build has worked to help alleviate some of the costs related to housing. Each rider who participates in the program is required to raise a minimum of $4,500. To date, the organization has donated more than $4.5 million to several housing groups. Donations can be made online at

Students with questions about participating in future Bike & Build trips can contact Kammeraad at

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