Living on the road, although very far from real life, still comes with its challenges and its chores. The group is divided into five different rotating chore groups to tackle exactly these. There is an overnight crew to make sure we aren’t forgetting anything at our hosts. The cooler crew packs and unpacks the coolers each day in the host’s refrigerators and cleans the dishes from lunch. The dinner and presentation crew cleans up (and sometimes prepares) dinner as well as presents to the host about what Bike & Build is all about. The trailer and van crew packs the trailer each morning bright and early, and is also responsible for keeping our lovely van clean. And lastly, the breakfast and laundry crew puts out and cleans up breakfast as well as performs the laundry ritual, which is scheduled for every third day.
The way laundry crew performs their task is a window into how much of our trip across the country operates. First, there is a strict schedule in that it is every third day. Given that we are all allowed a 4500 cubic inch duffle bag or backpack, which must also fit our sleeping bags and air mattresses, packing lots of clothes is impossible and frequent laundry is necessary. In addition, riding with dirty spandex can not only smell really bad but can also lead to all sorts of spreadable and disgusting bacterial growth. Thus, laundry is always done on extra hot! We tell riders if they have delicate clothes, they should probably just go ahead and ship those home. There will be no special batches of laundry.
Our laundry ritual starts in the late afternoon after we shower, and the laundry crew sets our a giant tarp on the ground and sends out mass text messages to get our clothes out there as soon as possible. We all tie up our clothes using a laundry loop to keep the chaos to a manageable level, and then we throw our laundry “clumps” upon the heap of smelly clothes. The laundry tarp is then carefully wrapped burrito-style so that no clothes can leak out on its journey from host floor to van to laundromat. After washing the clothes on hot with lots of detergent, drying takes place. Nothing makes the whole team love laundry crew more than receiving perfectly dry and slightly warm laundry. That said, we unfortunately realize that this is more of a luxury than a right and are always anxious upon the return of our clothes.
Clean clothes keep the Bike & Build machine running smoothly just as all of the tasks of the other chore groups, and now by halfway through the trip, living like this almost seems normal.