Road Trip Across America

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The waters of the Pacific Ocean off America’s West Coast were warm and salty. Lukas and Berni dipped their heads beneath the surface once more as the sun gradually faded behind them. Having finally reached the ocean, the two of them, like madmen, had leapt off their bikes and left them lying in the sand. “We’d actually made it from New York to Los Angeles by bike. At that moment, there were so many emotions at once: we were proud, wistful and ecstatic beyond belief,” says Lukas as he relives this unique experience.

The two 28-year-olds had done a whole lot of organising, planning and training beforehand. It was four years earlier when Lukas, from the Austrian town of St Georgen an der Gusen, had dreamt up the idea of travelling east to west across the USA under his own steam. The idea became more concrete when he brought fellow Business Studies student Berni into the loop. “To be honest, I didn’t take him all that seriously when he said he wanted to be part of my plans,” says Lukas. The main reason being that the two of them are totally different. “I always want to take things to the limit. It’s only a challenge for me when the going gets really tough,” Lukas adds. “Whereas I just liked the idea and hadn’t thought all that much about fitness and the sporty side of things,” admits Berni.

While planning their project, the master’s degree students agreed they wanted to add social value. “We decided we wanted to cycle for Wings for Life,” says Linz native Berni. They both liked the idea that 100 per cent of every euro donated went to research. “Then we thought up a concept and ended up offering stages of our trip for sale. You could buy one kilometre for one euro.” Friends, family and acquaintances loved the charity aspect and quickly came up with the hard cash for all 5,499 kilometres. “So we were really conscious of what exactly we’d collected money for when we were on our trip,” says Berni. “Being healthy and having the freedom that comes with that, whether it’s having sore muscles or just being able to walk, was really humbling.”

The two of them took 54 days to cycle across the States, from Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, on the East Coast to Manhattan Beach, LA, on the West Coast. “We had burst tyres, didn’t always agree on things and pushed things to the limit physically,” Berni recalls. It took them a while to get used to local conditions – especially over the first 2,000 kilometres – but after that, they would cycle as many as 212 kilometres at a time.
Back home, people could keep abreast of events on their homepage. “We also told people in America our story, and about the charitable aspect of our trip. During the journey, the donations kept coming in. Some people even slipped us cash because they were so impressed.”

Once back in Austria, the pair knuckled down to finish their master’s degrees in Vienna, while also giving presentations on their experiences. “And at the end of it all, we raised 7,038 euros for Wings for Life,” the sportsmen reveal proudly at the end of their presentation. The two already have vague plans for future projects. “But we’ll never forget that moment we had when we reached the ocean at the end of our trip.”

Fundraising is easy
Want to do good things by hosting a private party or running a marathon for example? Then start your own fundraising campaign, motivate your friends and collect donations. There are no limits to how creative you can be, and 100% of every euro donated goes straight into spinal cord research.