Department of Art and Art History Professor Steve McGuire and six students will complete a 500-mile trip across the state on bicycles they made in his course.
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

By: Emily Delgado  

Steve McGuire, a professor in the Department of Art and Art History, is gearing up for a bikepacking trip across the state of Iowa with six students. 

This is a picture of Steve McGuire

McGuire is the leader of the design-build-ride program and has been teaching students for the past 13 years how to build their own bikes. 

This summer, McGuire and the students will ride their handmade bikes on gravel roads and bike trails across the state. The trip will span nearly 500 miles over seven days and will depart from Davenport on June 1. 

“I really want students to have the experience of meeting challenges in the outdoors and a sense of accomplishment having designed, then built, and then rode their bike 500 miles across Iowa,” McGuire said.  

McGuire said he hopes the trip will create a route that people outside the UI can use on their own bikepacking trips.  

“Hopefully, folks might see riding this route as a destination, a way to explore Iowa by bicycle,” McGuire said.  

This picture is a map of the trip

McGuire spends most of his free time biking, he has biked over 300,000 miles! Throughout his adulthood, McGuire spent nearly 250 days bikepacking. McGuire has biked up and down the west coast and back to Iowa three times, and even across the world.  

In July, McGuire spent the month bike riding across Switzerland on a bike he built himself. The journey spanned 601 miles and was not the first time McGuire biked across a country on bike. In the early 2000s, McGuire biked across Iceland.  

“Each time I am energized by the experience when bikepacking,” McGuire said. “I always enjoy a sense of connection with the land, its gravel, dirt, sun, rain, freezing nights, the state of mind you get from bikepacking, and overcoming challenges you take into your daily life.” 

“I really want students to have this experience,” he added. 

McGuire’s design-build-ride curriculum combines creativity, artistry, and engineering, allowing students to gain new skills in craftmanship. The class is the top nationwide course for handmade bikes and has allowed more than 300 students to make their own bicycles, McGuire said.  

“The curriculum, comprised of four courses, is the place for art and engineering majors to meet as makers,” McGuire said.  

Since the course's inception, it has been recognized nationally for being a top program of handmade bikes. 

The idea of this course stems from McGuire’s love for biking and design, and he hopes he can pass on that same passion to his students.