Creating family memories with a purpose-driven bike tour
When the three of the four Variano’s (Dana, Denyse, & Vinny, minus Dana’s brother Evan who couldn’t make it) decided to do a family bike trip in Europe, they wanted to go the extra mile and raise some cash for a charity working to end traffic violence in LA, the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition, or LACBC. (Learn more about Dana’s efforts to address mobility justice in the ‘hit and run capital’ of the world below.)
As the LACBC’s former Communications Director, Dana Variano had trained with Team LACBC for Climate Ride California and helped folks fundraise with videos and other creative content. She was excited to put her own advice and strategies to the test!
They had first heard about the ride from Amsterdam to Bruges from mutual family friends, but Amsterdam was always a place Dana wanted to visit – beautiful canals, lots of safe biking, and one of the beer capitals of Europe! The beautiful scenery, historic cities anchoring the route, flat roads (!!!), and the respect that Holland and Belgium extend to cyclists were just some of the things that excited them about this purpose-driven family trip.
Ending the trip in Bruges, Belgium was a particular highlight for the family because they are fans of Hercule Poirot, the character from Agathe Christie’s novels. Dana fell in love with the romantic streets of Bruges from the film “In Bruges” a few years back. A European history nerd, she was excited to visit Ypres and other important scenes from the first two world wars. All three of them were perhaps most excited, however, that Bruges happens to be home to the national beer museum, the national chocolate museum, and the national french fry museum. So there was plenty to motivate them to finish the ride!
Helping to change the hit and run capital
Dana spent the last three years working on mobility justice in Los Angeles, the “hit-and-run capital” of the nation. Making streets safe for people in Los Angeles and ending traffic violence on our streets is an amazingly ambitious goal, toward which LACBC has made great strides.
Dana decided to add fundraising to this trip because “The folx I have met working with and alongside LACBC have changed my life in uncountable ways, and riding for Team LACBC is just one small way to show my support, and give to a movement in which I greatly believe.”
Overall, Team Variano spent six days cycling and covered 165 miles from the Netherlands to Belgium, riding through such awesome places as Dordrecht, Willemstad, Antwerp, Ghent, and Brugge. According to Dana, “The biking there is just amazing – miles and miles of connected, protected bikeways and walkways that are next to some of the most beautiful countryside I have seen. Windmills, potato farms, and endless amounts of sheep were our scenery for most of the journey, which often felt like a snippet out of a Truffaut film.”
Some highlights included fresh strawberry automats by the side of the road, swimming in a Belgian lake, confirming that beer there is in fact cheaper than water, and seeing Storks circling around them on their first day in the saddle! They even got to bike to the North Sea on their last day, which was an amazing way to finish off the journey.
Team Variano would like to thank all of their donors who helped make this trip even more meaningful, by supporting Climate Ride and the LA Bicycle Coalition!
Where have you always wanted to ride a bike?
Take a hint from the Variano’s and add purpose to your adventure–make your next bike ride, hike, or climb a Climate Ride event! You can make any adventure a fundraiser for your favorite non-profit by signing up for an Independent Challenge here!