Ramon Martinez is gearing up to bike 4,000 miles across the United States this summer. During rest stops, he’ll take off his helmet and pick up a hammer.
The Viterbo University junior will join 40 cyclists in pedaling across 13 states — from Charleston, S.C., to Santa Cruz, Calif. — and building homes with local agencies along the way.
“The opportunity to help others and challenge myself really sounds too good to pass up,” he said.
His mission is through Bike & Build, a organization that prepares young people for a lifetime of service while creating affordable housing for those in need.
To participate, Martinez needs to raise $500 by the end of January and a minimum of $4,000 by the trip’s start at the end of May. The funds will help pay for his bike, food and materials for the houses he will help the team build.
“It will mean a lot if I can get help from the La Crosse community to help me help others,” he said.
Running marathons has helped him build endurance for the trip, which should conclude sometime in mid-August, Martinez said.
He’ll also have passion behind his pedal, he said. While working and living in Sacramento, Calif., two years ago, Martinez watched close friends lose their homes to foreclosure, yet saw families there benefit from efforts to create affordable housing.
He enjoyed providing such assistance as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
“Just raising that first wall is like the kick-off to a football game,” he said. “It’s really an exciting moment — not just for builders but also the home owners.”
To donate to Martinez’s ride, go to bikeandbuild.org/rider/4992