Anything Is Possible

Santa Monica resident Emily Josephs came home last week, ending a 66-day 3,800-mile transcontinental bicycle trip. She left Boston on June 11, and pulled up in Santa Barbara on August 14th.

Josephs, the daughter of Bill and Zina Josephs, rode with 30 other young people under the auspices of “Bike and Build,” a non-profit organization that organizes cross-country bicycle trips to benefit grass-roots affordable housing groups in the United States by raising money and raising awareness (www.bikeandbuild.org).

Each rider had to raise $4,000 in order to participate in the bike trip, half going for trip expenses and the other half donated to housing groups. This summer, approximately 210 young cyclists have traveled seven different Bike and Build routes from the east coast to the west coast. They will be donating a total of over $420,000 to organizations that provide affordable housing, such as Habitat for Humanity.

The cyclists on the Boston to Santa Barbara run stopped along the way to work on building projects in Massachusetts, New York state, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Nevada, and California.

Tasks ranged from digging postholes and mixing cement to building a fence, hauling bricks, installing cabinets, and painting a 6-bedroom house in one day for a Somali refugee with 14 children.

The Bike and Builders rode up to 110 miles each day, sleeping on the floor in church basements, school gymnasiums and, occasionally, campgrounds.

They took turns doing presentations in the evenings for their host groups on affordable housing.

After dipping the rear wheels of their bikes in the Atlantic Ocean in June, the riders crossed the Berkshires, the Poconos, the Appalachians, and the Alleghenies. They participated in the Cy Young Days Parade in Newcomerstown, Ohio, passed flooded fields in Illinois, and rode through the Ozarks. They traveled along historic Route 66 in Oklahoma, and one rider attempted the “72-ounce steak challenge” in Amarillo, Texas. They crossed the continental divide at 8,600 feet in Pie Town, New Mexico, and visited the Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon. On one memorable day, they rode across the Hoover Dam in 115 degree heat, then through a thunder storm and into a rarely seen sight in Las Vegas — flooded streets full of stalled cars. Finally, they dipped the front wheels of their bikes in the Pacific Ocean at Santa Barbara’s East Beach in August, cheered on by family and friends.

Their motto is “Anything is possible.”

Emily Josephs was born in Santa Monica, attended Grant Elementary School, John Adams Middle School, and the Windward School, did volunteer work at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium and the California Wildlife Center in Malibu. She recently graduated from Brown University with a degree in biology.

She leaves this week to begin work as a research associate at Indiana University, continuing in the field of plant research.

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