The Pitt News

Q & A: Pitt Students Bike for a Cause

Zach Ward, Malcolm Juring and Max Lindsay biked from Pitt's campus to Iowa City, Iowa to raise funds for cancer research. / Courtesy of Malcolm Juring

Zach Ward, Malcolm Juring and Max Lindsay biked from Pitt's campus to Iowa City, Iowa to raise funds for cancer research. / Courtesy of Malcolm Juring

Zach Ward, Malcolm Juring and Max Lindsay biked from Pitt's campus to Iowa City, Iowa to raise funds for cancer research. / Courtesy of Malcolm Juring

By Alexa Bakalarski / News Editor

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Three Pitt students and fraternity brothers had barely put down their pencils after finals before they were strapping on helmets to raise money for a good cause.

To support the V Foundation for Cancer Research, a Delta Chi partner and non-profit organization that funds cancer research, rising junior Max Lindsay and rising seniors Malcolm Juring and Zach Ward biked from Pitt’s campus to the headquarters of their international social fraternity Delta Chi in Iowa City, Iowa. The students biked about 750 miles in total.

The brothers left Pittsburgh May 2, and reached the headquarters May 12. Although the fraternity had already met its fundraising goal for the foundation, they decided to take the trip anyway, and raised more than $4,000 in additional funds for the cause.

After the bike trip, Lindsay, a material science and engineering major, and Ward, a business and economics major, returned to their Pennsylvania homes in Peters Township and Bethlehem, respectively.

But Juring, a neuroscience major, is still spinning his wheels in Pittsburgh. He sat down with The Pitt News to talk about his experience cruising through three states in 11 days.

The Pitt News: Where did you get the idea for the trip? How did you plan for it, training-wise?

Malcolm Juring: It was originally Max’s idea, and he thought that it would be a contingency plan if we didn’t meet our pledge — our philanthropy pledge. We reached that pledge, but we liked the idea of doing it anyway, so we went ahead with it.

Yeah, we did some training, but a lot of it — we didn’t really prepare for it because you can’t really prepare for a trip like that until you’re doing it. You can’t bike 100 miles every day during finals, so a lot of the training was actually during the first couple days of the trip. We were really sore and it was a lot of adjusting.

TPN: That sounds like a lot of work without any training, do you bike regularly?

MJ: Yes, we all bike fairly regularly. However, we weren’t able to train as much as we would have liked to because of finals.

TPN: Besides the fact that it’s your headquarters, why Iowa City?

MJ: Our fraternity, Delta Chi, has their international headquarters in Iowa City … and the V Foundation is our fraternity’s national philanthropic partner, so we were looking for a ride that would make sense. There are more exciting places to ride — maybe New York, [Washington] D.C. — but we wanted somewhere that was connected with us.

TPN: Were you nervous?

MJ: I think we were excited. We didn’t know exactly what to expect. None of us had done a trip exactly like this before, so there was a lot of “what ifs” floating around.

We tried to limit our expectations, I think, just because it was something so different from anything we’ve ever done before. It became our lives for a week and a half, nothing but riding, eating and sleeping.

TPN: What was the hardest part of the trip?

MJ: The whole thing was pretty hard, [laughs] but the time pressure … to do it in the 11 days that we did it in was the hardest part, I think. It meant that we were doing anywhere from 70 to 100 miles in a day, and [doing] that every day is difficult. You get sore and you don’t want to ride the next day, but you just have to. When you factor in stopping for food, that basically means riding from when you wake up to when you go to sleep, so it’s very full days — long days. The hardest thing was probably the last two days when we had a really strong headwind. We had a 20 mph headwind for the last couple days, so that made it probably about twice as hard to go the same distance.

TPN: Did you meet a lot of people while you were biking? What did they think about what you were doing?

MJ: A lot of people were curious what we were doing, so we didn’t even have to — we never went up to people and were like, ‘this is what we’re doing,’ but a lot of people saw us on our bikes or they saw us in restaurants, and they asked us … when we explained it, there was almost always a positive response.

A couple of times, people told us stories about their friends or family that had cancer and how they thought young people doing this was a really great thing. We actually got over $100 in donations during the trip from people who just asked us what we were doing.

Max Lindsay and Zach Ward take a picture in front of the Ohio state sign. / Courtesy of Malcolm Juring

Max Lindsay and Zach Ward take a picture in front of the Ohio state sign. / Courtesy of Malcolm Juring

TPN: What were your thoughts during the final stretch of the trip?

MJ: The last couple of days, it all felt kind of surreal. It was kind of hard to believe that we got that far just on bikes because we were crossing the Mississippi [River]. You don’t ever imagine crossing the Mississippi by bike from Pittsburgh.

I had two finals on Saturday, Max had a couple late finals and so did Zach, so we had come off of just finishing finals and moving out of the residence halls. As soon as we were done with that, we jumped right into the trip, so we were — I think — all really looking forward to sleeping in and just relaxing for a couple of days afterwards. We were getting up every morning at seven and staying up until 10 or 11 at night biking, so we were really looking forward to relaxing since we hadn’t in the past month or so.

TPN: How did the V Foundation react when it heard about the trip?

MJ: They were really supportive. They actually featured us on their Facebook page, and they sent us t-shirts to wear on the trip. I think they were really thankful [for] it, because we had met our original pledge of how much we said we were going to raise for them, so they weren’t expecting any more than that, and we still did the trip anyway and raised over $4,000.

TPN: Would you ever do the trip again, and did you learn anything from it?

MJ: Yeah, I think we’re contemplating doing it next year. We don’t know yet. We definitely learned a lot, so we could build on that. As far as what we learned, I think we learned a lot about the states that we biked through. The Midwest is not all the same, it’s not all homogenous. I think I personally learned a lot about the people in the Midwest and people just across the country.

We had a lot of really supportive people. We had a lot more supportive people than we had people who reacted negatively. There’s a lot of people who don’t like people biking on the road. But overall, we got a lot of positive support.

Ninety-five percent of people we met were interested in what we were doing and offered to help us in some way. I could tell it made most people think hard about charity and service. Overall, we were amazed by how strangers will go out of their way to help a cause like this.

Juring, Lindsay and Ward are still accepting donations online for the V Foundation.

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Q & A: Pitt Students Bike for a Cause