As the halfway point between Seattle and Portland, the Twin Cities are a popular stop for cyclists pedaling the about 200 miles between the two cities.
But the cyclists who typically cruise through Lewis County do so as part of the popular Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic in July, and they stick around just long enough to rest and repair their bikes before hitting the road.
The group of 25 cyclists who spent the night at Chehalis United Methodist Church on Wednesday on their way up from Portland to Bellevue intend to stay in Southwest Washington a bit longer as they work to raise awareness around the nationwide affordable housing crisis.
“We work with local nonprofit groups, like Habitat for Humanity or other small organizations that are local, and basically contribute volunteer hours and service to the communities that we stop in the way,” said Nick Hale, of Bike & Build, the nonprofit that organized the trip.
The group riding from Portland to Bellingham this year has seven to eight “build days,” days when they volunteer with a group to help build affordable housing, along their route, including one in Aberdeen.
The cyclists were preparing for that Aberdeen build Wednesday night in Chehalis as they ate and mingled with volunteers at Chehalis United Methodist Church.
“It sounds like a good cause,” said Jean Long, of Chehalis United Methodist.
The church also hosts cyclists riding through the Twin Cities as part of the Seattle to Portland Classic.
Bike & Build organizes annual cycling trips for young adults ages 18 through 29 around the country, who train and fundraise independently before meeting up in a starting city to embark on the trip.
“It's pretty much 25 complete strangers coming together … volunteering for this one cause and then ultimately becoming a team, trusting each other, with their lives on the road and everything. It's really, really powerful,” said Hale.
The cyclists embarked from Chehalis United Methodist early Thursday morning on their way to Aberdeen.
Visit https://bikeandbuild.org/ for more information on Bike & Build.