“You can’t listen to music, so the best thing to do is find someone to have a good conversation with. But when you are on your bike by yourself for eight hours riding through Kansas, there is a lot of time to think.”
The group stays at host locations at every stop, usually churches (“about 90 percent of the time”), but also schools, host families and even campsites. While most locations have been solid, a few have stood out for both good and bad reasons, he said.
“On July 2, we rode into this really small town called Clay Center, Kan.,” Kuykendall said of the 2.8-square-mile town. “It just happened to be on a day the bank was giving out free meals. Then, one of the guys was at a pharmacy and mentioned what we were doing, and we got invited to this great Fourth of July party. It was a great slice of Americana.
“The worst was when we were biking through Bloomington, Ind., and our host called and said they couldn’t host us. Luckily, one of the guys goes to the University of Indiana. So 29 of us crammed into his college apartment, with the air conditioner broken. It was rough.”
Making a difference
Throughout the trip, Kuykendall’s crew has made 10 stops in various states for “Build Days” during which they have helped build low-income housing.
“The build days are great because it’s very moving to make a difference,” he said. “Most of the days are working with Habitat for Humanity. We build and paint, whatever they need.”
Kuykendall said most people don’t understand the need for affordable housing.
“Did you know the average age of a homeless person in the U.S. is 9 years old? That is crazy and disheartening,” he said. “And in no county in the U.S. can a person work for minimum wage and pay for full rent.”