The feat of cycling from the Black Forest to the Black Sea is just one of the many triumphs that we experienced on our journey. We never ceased to remember that we rode in memoriam and honor of Janice Saalfeld, my mom, and that we sought to fundraise $3,000 for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation to contribute to easing the life of others living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Our outstanding and amazing families, friends and even some people we have never met made achieving our stated goal of $3,000 an absolute breeze– the kind that pushed us 180 km through Romania in less than 9 hours including breaks. We had already passed the 50% mark when I flew out of Toronto on July 21, four days before day one of Black to Black. I remember being pleasantly shocked when Tom and Woody informed me we’d surpassed $2000 as we put shoe to pedal for the first time. By the time I was first able to check our Crowdrise page, our total had broken $2,600. That was in Ulm, Germany on day three. I’d often check the webpage on my telephone if I had a wi-fi connection and read names and amounts as fast I could to Tom and Woody as the ticker of donors quickly scrolled across the tiny screen. Whichever one of us knew the donor would cheerfully yell out the relation and have a sweet sensation of knowing so-and-so had donated.
That day in Ulm was the day before our first 160 km ride, upping our previous daily klick high by 70 km. After our nightly beer gardens exploration, I read the comments people had left with their donations and we all laughed and felt inspired to push through any pain or fear that might make Black to Black impossible. Woody’s dad left a particularly funny omen: “Good luck! I think you’ll need it.” At about kilometer 70 of the next day’s ride, Tarantino’s back wheel was discombobulated… 50 meters from that glorious cycling shop. Good luck if we ever had it!
As the donations kept coming in, Woody wanted me to make sure everyone knew we weren’t riding back up the Danube if we hit $6,000. I believe it was Jackie’s donation that pushed us over $3,000. That felt fitting to me because Jackie is one of my mom’s very best friends and was with Mom every step of the way (even from far away) as she learned about her sickness and fought it for over two years.
As our funds rose higher and higher over our goal, I believe we all felt obliged to finish Black to Black because we were riding for something much more significant than just fun (though we never ceased to have fun– except maybe on that stretch of motorway in Ruse, Bulgaria when my spoke snapped).
At the time of writing, the total donation amount on Crowdrise sits at $3,855, or 129% of our original goal. The actual total is even higher because some people donated offline and their donation amounts are unknown. We have now learned of offline donation amounts and have surpassed $4,000. We now sit at $4,025, or 134% of our original goal. Some people may still feel inclined to contribute. If so, learn the ups and downs of the process here.
I will be contacting the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation soon to let them know that our fundraiser is over and will be sure to post any thank you we get from them here. I have no doubt the foundation, their employees and all the scientists, researchers and doctors who benefit from your donations will be grateful for your charity.
Thank you so very much to each and every person who supported us through the fundraiser. You all deserve handshakes, hugs and nods from us! I spent my last night in Europe watching a free performance by the Opera Nationala Bucaresti in a park in front of the National Opera House. I became sentimental realizing I would never get to share this amazing experience I have had over the last month with my mom. Then I grew happy knowing how many people have supported her memory. Fireworks exploded high in the sky over the opera at the end of the night. You are all like those fireworks in my opinion, garnering oohs and ahhs with shouts of joy from the crowd below made up of Tom, Woody and me along with anyone affected by pulmonary fibrosis.
Ezra Anton Greene with Tom Youngs and Jonathan ‘Woody’ Woodsmith
As mentioned in our first post, we are not only out to have a good time cycling across Central and Eastern Europe. We have also committed to fundraising for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation during our trip in hopes of raising $3000 US. We figure we will cycle close to 3000 km along the Danube and want to raise one dollar for every kilometre. We know that’s more than the price of gasoline! But it’s for a better cause than global warming, right? All donations will be used towards funding international research projects and conferences dedicated to finding a cure for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and easing the lives of individuals and families affected by the lung disease. We strongly encourage anyone and everyone to contribute to this cause. We greatly appreciate anything that anyone is able to offer!
Our interest in fundraising for this particular cause stems from Ezra Anton being personally affected by the horrible disease. Both Ezra’s grandfather Bob Saalfeld and mother Jan Saalfeld passed away from interstitial pulmonary fibrosis. He lost his mother just over a year ago on April 20, 2010, and we dedicate this fundraiser to her honour and memory.
You’re probably wondering how to donate already. Alright, alright! Simply go to our Black to Black Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Fundraiser Crowdrise project page and click on the orange “Donate” button on the right side of the screen. A window will pop up that allows you to make donations online with a credit card. You simply need to fill in the information and click donate. At the time of writing this post, we have only setup online donations, but we will soon be providing other options if you want to donate by other methods.
In addition to fundraising, Ezra wants to do all he can to raise awareness about pulmonary fibrosis during the trip. He plans to use this blog as a portal to educate people about the disease, how it has affected him personally, how to live a lifestyle that supports healthy lungs and how to support causes that will lead to cleaner air for us all. His hope is that everyone can be out on a bicycle with their lungs happily pumping and enjoying fresh air that circulates through every bit of their bodies!
Black to Black has been an excursion a long time in the making. The idea spawned from the tandem excursions of two of our trepid trio in 2007 navigating their way from Lands End to John O’Groats (the southern to the most northern tip of the UK). Whilst raising money for a Parkinsons charity, Tom and Woody learnt the appreciation of seeing their native homeland via pedal power and sampled the pastiche of wonder that is the Great British Beer Garden. Through the toil of the 1500 km trip, light relief was provided by not only the scenery on show but the subtle nuances and personalities of over 50 pubs and the charm that came with each. The long days en saddle were punctuated with stops at some beautifully scenic spots along with some endearing traditional British pubs that powered weary legs to keep pedalling to see what was in store next. (For those keen to know, The Eagle and Child pub in Stavelely in the Lake District came top of our standing at the end of the trip. Several lovely beer gardens, great staff and a cracking beer to boot meant this pub was impossible to beat). A few trials and tribulations were endured as to be expected, but the trip was a huge success; however, a swift repeat performance became hampered through studies, location and generating an idea to top the Tandem Trip 07.
Flash forward four years and their displacement to main land Europe (Tom in Vienna and Woody in Berlin) combined with the long held yearning for more cycling adventures lead them to contemplate tackling double the distance on a trip to encompass ten different countries across the eastern side of their enthralling home continent. Thus the Danube (or Donua, for locals) 2011 was borne. Enter Anton. The third member of the current crew will join up with Tom and Woody for this European adventure from across the pond in Canada sharing equal excitement and enthusiasm for the journey ahead. For Tom and Woody, the tandem has made the journey to mainland Europe for its second major outing and for the three of them this represents unchartered territory. And all the better for it. Once again the challenging days will be alleviated by an attempt to find the most enticing beer garden on offer along the shores of the Danube. No doubt there will be many, but the unknown is the beauty of the trip, and stumbling across a local dispensary after a 140km day to enjoy a refreshing local tipple shall make the long days all the more rewarding. Once again a charitable cause is at heart. This time the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation is the very worthwhile cause and all donations would be much appreciated. The 3000 km in 24 days will be a tough task but riding to raise money and the prospect of some stunning scenery is enough to subside any trepidation on our behalf. We shall update the blog as often as possible to keep you all in the loop with how we get so for now enough of the back story and more to the journey itself:
Black to Black: The Forest to the Sea
Ciao for now,
Woody, Tom and Ezra Anton