Recent grad spent summer biking across US

by Sports Editor Andrew Fulmer

During the summer, recent UNA alum Brandon Pennington celebrated his graduation in a unique way—biking from one coast of the country to the other.

Pennington rode from New Haven, Connecticut, to Half Moon Bay, California, over the span of 78 days as part of Bike & Build, a non-profit organization that organizes cross-country bike rides to benefit various affordable housing organizations.

Pennington graduated from UNA last May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and said he wanted to do something different after graduation that could be as impactful as possible.

“It was something that interested me from the get-go,” Pennington said. “It was something I could do that could make the world a little bit better place, so I jumped right on it.”

During his ride, Pennington stopped at many different towns across the U.S. with 28 other riders for the cause.

“We would ride about five or six days then stop in a town and volunteer to work at build sites,” Pennington said. “We worked a lot with Habitat for Humanity and other organizations that helped the housing issue.”

Pennington’s ride also raised over $140,000 for affordable housing through donations and grants.

There were many scenic towns he stopped at, and met many great people, but one place stood out from the rest, Pennington said.

“I would have to say my favorite place was Gunnison, Colorado,” Pennington said. “Because it was a beautiful area. The (scenery) was great with all the mountains and rivers, but it was also this great  town that was not touristy. It was very enjoyable to be around.”

At the end of his trip, Pennington moved to California where he is pursuing a certification in whitewater rafting and looking to go to graduate school in the near future.

Pennington said his journey helped point him in the right direction as far as what to do next in his life.

“I was talking to some of the guys on these build sites about the idea I have had for a while now of becoming an architect,” Pennington said. “After talking to those guys and doing some self exploration, I have decided to go to grad school for architecture. Going from not having a sense of direction to knowing what you want to do is awesome. That is the best thing I took away from this on a personal level.”

Pennington said that it was a great experience that he would not trade for anything and recommends that anyone at a similar crossroads take part in one of the Bike & Build rides.

“Anyone could do this,” Pennington said. “As long as you put in the necessary time training and raise enough money, a not very experienced rider could do this. Most of our team was not what you would call ‘experienced riders’ and that is including me, but yeah, we made it across.”

For more information on the routes and events Bike & Build has to offer, visit bikeandbuild.org.