Biking across America

young man holds bike over his head

Senior finance major Michael Ciurea is leading a group of 28 other college-age students in cycling across America from Baltimore, Maryland, to Portland, Oregon, this summer to raise money for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults!  

How long have you been cycling?

I guess my dad taught me how to ride a bike when I was a little kid, but I’ve been riding more long-distance stuff since my sophomore year of high school. So seven years now.

What do you ride?

The foundation has a deal with Jamis. Every person who rides and raises a minimum amount of donations get a bike from Jamis.

What made you decide to cycle across America?

The whole cycling thing for me started when I cycled through the Blue Ridge Parkway with my dad. It was like a 500-mile bike ride, 469 to be exact. At the end of it I thought, “I love this so much, I want to do something like this again in the future, but even more.” I saw this opportunity to help out a cause that is really relevant to me because I have a lot of family members who have been diagnosed with cancer—some made it, some haven’t. It’s a cause that means something to me, and it’s something I really want to do. It’s the best of both worlds.

How can people give?

Follow this link! Each rider has their own individual fundraising page. What you donate goes towards their fundraising minimum. Each rider has to raise a minimum of $4500.

There are three routes going east to west, and another three going from west to east, each with about 20 to 30 people. It ends up being over a million dollars raised for this organization every summer, which is really awesome!

All the money goes directly to helping young adults who are affected with cancer. This organization is specifically for young adults. Imagine us in this point of our lives, about to enter a time when we’re going to be really independent, and then being diagnosed with something like this where you’re required to rely on other people. It’s a tough time in a person’s life, and this organization does a lot to help.

How does this work? Where will you sleep and eat?

Very good question! It’s a question I had, too, at the beginning. In each city, there will be either a family, a community center, a YMCA, or a church that will be putting us up for the night. It’s 70 nights long. Most of them will provide dinner and maybe breakfast the next morning.

For lunch, there is a crew of two people who go out to look for donations. At first I was skeptical, like, “Hmm donations? We’re going to be starving.” But when I went to our training weekend we did a trial. They gave us a script and said, “All right, go out and get lunch for today.” When we told people what we were supporting, we got so much food! I was so impressed. I had so much more faith in humanity.

There are also two support vans that will be driving with us throughout the whole summer. One of the vans carries all of our stuff. The other van is the one that goes out and gets the food donations. One of them chalks the route. They also set up water stops. Everyone is divided into riding groups of five, and they stay together no matter what.

Each day we do 60-100 miles. We’ll have about one rest day per week, when we’ll have free time as a group or go visit oncology units in hospitals. We also have three scholarships that we’re going to give out to patients who have been applying for them throughout the year.

What’s the next ride you have in mind?

Oh, my goodness, the next one after this? My dad and I cycled the California coast, but it had to get cut short. One day I really want to finish the California coast from Oregon to San Francisco, and then San Francisco to Mexico. That would be really fun. And then maybe something international.

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Michael Ciurea and Suny Gomez Story by Michael Ciurea and Suny Gomez Published: Last Edited:

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