By KAREN GARDNER
The News-Post of Frederick
FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — JoBeth Minniear was not a cyclist until she heard about Bike & Build.
Now she’s training for a 575-mile bike trip that will both raise awareness of affordable housing and give her opportunities to work on several home-building projects en route. She will not only be cycling but also learning her way around a tool chest.
Minniear is to travel on the Capital Ride from Richmond, Va., to Philadelphia from July 13 to 27. The ride stops in Frederick July 22.
On the way, she and her fellow cyclists plan to stop to help build affordable houses in three locations. The trip is for young people, ages 18 to 25. Minniear, a recent college graduate with a degree in meteorology, moved to Frederick to work as a quality assurance engineer at Bechtel.
Before the trip, she will have put in 300 cycling miles and spent 10 hours working on local affordable housing projects.
Minniear has spent nearly every weekend this winter putting some miles on her bike, no matter how much she needed to bundle up. She rides in rain, but draws the line at riding in sleet and snow.
She and fellow trip participants are set to do a 65-mile training trip later this spring on the mountains west of Frederick. They have planned a route that will involve 8,000 feet of climbing.
“If you asked my friends two years ago if I would be cycling 70 miles in one day, they would have not believed you,” she said. It was about two years ago that she began running to stay in shape. She planned a half-marathon, but two days before registration opened, she broke her foot.
Undaunted from the setback, her foot healed and she ran her first half-marathon in September. She plans to run the Rock `n’ Roll USA half-marathon in Washington on March 16. In May, she plans to run the Frederick Running Festival 5K and half marathon.
Cycling for a cause
The trip will be mostly college students and recent college graduates. The cyclists will be accompanied by a van pulling a trailer with supplies. There will be eight days of cycling, with mileage usually in the 72- to 79-mile range. On three days, the cyclists get a break, pedaling only 51 to 65 miles. A day of sightseeing around Washington is built into the schedule. Cyclists can ride at their own pace in small groups, but must arrive at the destination in time for dinner, evening chores and activities.
Minniear hopes to raise $2,500, and has raised $1,185. She learned about Bike & Build from her boyfriend, who took a cross-country bike tour with Bike & Build in the summer of 2010. Cyclists must raise a minimum of $1,700 to participate, and must pay an additional $200 application fee. Cyclists can raise more. The money raised from the Capital Ride will go to Rebuilding Together Philadelphia and for Bike & Build organizational expenses.
Minniear hasn’t been a cyclist or a runner for long, but she has played softball, basketball and volleyball for many years. She also enjoys hiking and running with her “crazy hyper” dog. She grew up in Indiana, and most recently lived in Fort Collins, Colo., and Minneapolis before moving to Frederick.
“I’ve always had what I needed,” she said. “My parents provided me with everything I needed, and I’m giving back for what I’ve been given.”
She plans on helping with some local Habitat for Humanity projects before going on the trip. Bike & Build is not affiliated with Habitat for Humanity, but some of the sites Bike & Build participants work in are Habitat projects.
Minniear said she likes to paint, and has joined other Bechtel employees on a home-building project putting in wall frames and doors. One day, she’d like to build her own house or buy an old place and fix it up. She has also volunteered by filling sandbags as a buffer against flooding.
Creating a cycling community
Minniear has been learning about cycling and bike maintenance with the help of The Bicycle Escape, a Frederick bike shop which is sponsoring her. “We reach out to the community to encourage people to cycle,” said manager Roger Rinker, whose son and daughter-in-law own the shop. “JoBeth presented us with an opportunity to help in a broader way.”
She bought her bike through Bike & Build, and had it shipped to Bicycle Escape. Rinker helped her put her bike together. Then it was time for Minniear to learn to ride with clip-less pedals. Clip-less pedals allow the cyclist to attach his or her feet to the pedals in order to get more power out of each stroke. Minniear said she fell the first couple of times she rode with the pedals, but with practice has gotten much better at using them.
“She’s helping to build houses and to encourage people to cycle,” Rinker said. “She’s such a fun, happy person.” Minnear does the store’s organized fun rides, including a Groundhog Day ride and a Valentine’s Day Cupid’s Revenge ride. On St. Patrick’s Day, there will be another ride.
Minniear supports the store through her Facebook page and encourages friends and co-workers to come on the rides. She also plans to come to the store’s repair clinics offered the first three Wednesday evenings in March.
Minniear would like to be able to do a cross-country bike ride, if she’s ever in a position to take two months off work. She is eager about combining cycling and volunteerism. “I love to volunteer,” she said. “The more I read about this, the more I’m looking forward to it.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)