Frequently Asked Questions

Virtual Habitat 500: Bike @ Home Questions

Do I have to ride 500 miles?

Nope! We invite riders to ride as much or little as they are able to do safely. Maybe you prefer short rides in your neighborhood. Maybe you’d like to challenge yourself to complete a Century Ride this year. Whatever your distance biked, you can be a part of the 2020 Virtual Ride!

Can I bike now? Do I have to bike during the virtual Ride (July 12-18)?

Yes, you can absolutely bike now! Anytime between now and the end of September, cyclists can hop on their bicycles. Most of the events for the virtual Habitat 500 will occur during the week of July 12-18, but you aren’t obligated to bike that week.

What will happen during July 12-18?

Habitat Minnesota and the Habitat 500 Committee are planning great events and activities to engage riders during the week of the virtual Ride. Stay tuned for more details!

What will happen to the planned route for 2020?

The route-planning sub-committee has put in many hours already to make a great route for 2020. This route will be moved to next year; in July of 2021, we will go through Pequot Lakes, Bemidji, Menahga, and Pillager.

What about the 2020 bike.home?

The official Northwoods bike.home. will be built in 2021, with the opportunity for participants to fundraise for and work on the house. The planned bike.home. for 2020 in Bemidji, MN, is already in progress. If you selected “bike.home.” to receive your fundraising in 2020, we’ll ask you to change your selection to “Northwoods (Bemidji) Habitat” or another affiliate of your choice.

What are affiliates doing?
Habitat affiliates are currently busy making plans for the future and working with their homeowners to make adaptations to mortgage payments that will allow them to stay in their homes. As they have had to cancel or postpone events, temporarily close ReStores, and pause volunteer days, they are also finding creative ways to fundraise, plan construction, and connect with current and future homeowners.
What can volunteers do?
If you’ve always thought about riding but weren’t sure you were ready, this is the perfect year to try it out! Volunteers are invited to register and participate as riders this year. If cycling isn’t for you, keep updated on virtual events by following our Facebook page.
Why should I participate?
A virtual Ride provides opportunities for participants to engage from their own communities! A virtual Ride has flexibility that an in-person Ride just can’t: ride when and as much as you’d like, sleep in your own bed each night, and skip days that are too hot, too windy, or too wet!

This Ride is also so important for Habitat affiliates across the state and country as a source of funding, which can continue and perhaps expand through a virtual format. The Habitat affiliates we raise money for with this event need this money more than ever, as they have also had to cancel or postpone events, temporarily close ReStores, and pause volunteer days. They’re currently busy making plans for the future and working with their homeowners to make adaptations to mortgage payments that will allow them to stay in their homes.

No matter how far away we are from one another, the Habitat 500 is an amazing community full of people who care about each other and about the mission of Habitat for Humanity!

Why did the Ride become virtual?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with great concern for the health and safety of our Habitat 500 and host communities and the logistics of a seven-day bicycle event, Habitat Minnesota and the Habitat 500 Committee decided to move from an in-person format to a virtual format for the Habitat 500 Bike Ride in 2020. Careful monitoring of Minnesota’s health and government expertise for several weeks, plus concerns regarding travel, participant age, and other risks made us believe that was the best decision at this time; the health and safety of our riders and volunteers is paramount.

Does this year “count” for ride years/anniversaries?

Absolutely! We will count this year in any riders’ total years. If this is an anniversary year for you (10, 15, 20, or 25), we will acknowledge the anniversary this year and can celebrate it this year or next.

Do we get T-Shirts?

Yes! T-Shirts will be sent with your rider packet. If you’d prefer not to receive one, please email habitat500@hfhmn.org. Adult sizes S–2XL will be available. T-shirts will be reserved for the first 200 registrants. After that, we cannot guarantee a shirt.*
How old do I have to be to participate? 
Because this year’s event will be “held” in communities all over the country, there are no age restrictions for the 2020 Virtual Habitat 500. Any age rider can sign up. We strongly recommend adult supervision of any rider under 18. Anyone under the age of 18 will be required to have a parent or guardian sign their Ride waiver for participation. 
What happens to the funds raised by the Habitat 500?

Each rider chooses up to three Habitat affiliates (local, national, or global) to support with their fundraising. All funds collected by riders for the Habitat 500 are donations to the Habitat 500. Habitat Minnesota, as the coordinator of the Ride, collects, manages, and distributes these funds. All funds will be distributed to the affiliate or affiliates chosen by the rider except when a chosen affiliate is not in compliance with standards set by Habitat International.

Affiliates use these funds for their work building and repairing homes in their communities, and all of the expenses and labor that come with that work. The funds are greatly appreciated!

Can I still collect and send in donations given to me offline (cash/checks)?

You can absolutely still accept cash and checks from your donors. However, we ask that you DO NOT send cash in the mail. It is already an risky option, advised against by the US Post Office. If a donor or donors gives you cash, please do one of the following:

  • Keep the cash and write a personal check to “Habitat 500” to cover the amount. Please note on that check who the money was originally from. Enter the donations in you OneCause page (see instructions below). Mail the personal check with any other checks you receive to Habitat Minnesota. Once we receive the check, we will confirm the cash/check payments.
  • Keep the cash and make an online donation to cover the amount. Here’s how:
    • While logged into OneCause, hover over your name in the top right corner, and select “manage my page”
    • From there, select “raise at least $XXX” from the left menu. Then select, “Enter cash/checks.”
    • If the check is made out to you, or it’s cash, select “Cash or payment to me” under “Method of Payment”. Fill in the relevant information, then make a credit card payment to cover the cash. Please note which donor or donors made the original contribution

Checks will still be accepted. There may be delays in cashing checks while staff is out of the office working remotely.

Fundraising Questions

What happens to the money I raise?

All funds collected by riders for the Habitat 500 are donations to the Habitat 500. Habitat Minnesota, as the coordinator of the Ride, collects, manages, and distributes these funds. Each Habitat 500 rider can choose up to three Habitat affiliates (local, national, or global) to support with their fundraising. All funds sent out will be distributed to the affiliate or affiliates chosen by the rider except when a chosen affiliate is not in compliance with the standards set by Habitat International (“Good Standing”). This is not a common occurrence.

Attempts will be made to connect with the affiliate. If the affiliate remains out of Good Standing for four months after fundraising is closed, the rider will be contacted and asked to select a different Habitat affiliate to receive their fundraising or to send funds to the Habitat 500 bike.home. If riders don’t let us know their preference by June 1, funds will go toward supporting Habitat Minnesota’s statewide programming.

Read the full Habitat 500 Funds Policy here.

What should I do with checks I receive for my fundraising?

We’re working to streamline our processes so that riders don’t have to hand write their donor info, send it in, then have Habitat Minnesota type it into our spreadsheet manually. We’re asking that riders enter their offline donations right into their GreatFeats pages. That way we can easily pull a report of all donations, and riders will have an accurate thermometer on their fundraising page for all donations they received, and not just their donations online. It will also save riders from filling out all the donor info by hand, and will cut down on confusion over illegible handwriting. Before mailing in checks, please enter your donations onto your OneCause page (see instructions). Then mail in donation checks to Habitat Minnesota regularly, sending the short Offline Donations Paid Form with them. This form can be downloaded from the fundraising page after you log in. To access this webpage, please email habitat500@hfhmn.org for the username and password.

No matter which Habitat affiliate you are riding for, send your funds raised to Habitat Minnesota with checks made out to HABITAT 500. After the ride, we will write to the affiliate you represented and send them a check totaling the funds you raised for them.

Can I access online donor addresses in order to send thank yous?

Because of security and privacy reasons, OneCause cannot share donor’s personal information with Riders. If you would like to email a thank you to an online donor, follow these instructions:

  1. Log in to your OneCause account and click “manage my page” in the top right corner of the white box with your name in it.
  2. Click “Raise at least $500” at the bottom of the list on the left side of the screen.
  3. Click “Thank Your Donors” to see a list of your online donors and how much they donated. You can email them thank yous from this screen.

*Please note that sending a thank you email to multiple donors will NOT mean that you’ve shared your donors email addresses with one another. If you email three donors at once, the only information they will see is the other donors’ first names.*

General Questions

How can I get my rider picture from last year’s Ride?

Visit our photographer Renee’s Flickr page and find your photo in the “Habitat 500 2019 Riders” folder.

Where can I get more information about the Habitat 500?

For questions not answered on our website, please email habitat500@hfhmn.org or call 612-331-4439, extension 7. Once you register for the ride, you will be signed up for a bi-monthly newsletter with everything from Ride updates to training and fundraising tips.

In-Person Habitat 500 Questions:

Can I ride 500 miles?

It may be a challenge depending on your experience and fitness, but the answer is yes! Training rides will be planned in late spring and early summer. In addition, we have training and safety resources below:

Who can participate in the Ride?

Anyone can participate ages 13 and older locally and globally.

Do I ride alone?

You can ride alone, or you can find a group to ride with. Especially on hills, never ride more than two abreast.

What if I have a flat tire?

The Ride is a fully supported event and provides a professional bike mechanic (with supplies), massage therapist, daily route maps, marked roads, rest stops, emergency phone numbers, SAG vehicles, and overnight camping sites with showers. In addition, breakfast and dinner are provided for participants.

Where do I sleep and shower?

Both indoor and outdoor sleeping accommodations are available at local schools, churches, community centers, and parks. We ask that sleeping areas and camping sites be quiet after 9:30 p.m.

Showers and bathrooms will be available at each overnight stop (see Lodging Information.) Cyclists will need to use public or private facilities during the day along the ride.

What do I eat on the Ride?

Cyclists will be provided with breakfasts and dinners daily. While breakfast will be served from 6-7 a.m., cyclists may eat at their own pace. Supper will be served from 6:30-7:30 p.m., and we want all cyclists/volunteers to be ready to sit down to eat supper together. Volunteers from local Habitat affiliates will join us during these evening meals.

Lunches are the responsibility of each cyclist at his/her own expense. Energy snacks and beverages will be provided at daily rest stops.

How much do I need to fundraise?

Each full-week and 3-day Habitat 500 cyclist must raise a minimum of $500 to participate in the Ride. 1-day riders must raise $250. By the first day of the Ride, contributions or a personal commitment totaling the minimum must be turned in. The cyclist’s personal commitment in lieu of unpaid pledges is a check.