In my life, as most journeys tend to do, this one started with a wedding. Back in 2012, Kaitlin, The Foundation For Tomorrow’s (TFFT) director of communications and donor development, reached out to me after following our work for some time, with an opportunity to come photograph some of TFFT’s work as well as a 10 day bike ride across Tanzania (Ride TZ). As I read the email outlining what Ride TZ was and what TFFT was all about I was pumped…until I checked my calendar and realized that we already had a couple weddings booked during the time the ride was scheduled. I regretfully had to decline and we exchanged “maybe next time” pleasantries fully expecting not to be remembered two full years later. Little did I know that Kaitlin would come to be one of the most dedicated, passionate, and optimistic people I’d ever meet. In 2013, on Kaitlin’s recommendation, we were contacted by Meghann, TFFT’s founder and executive director, to photograph her wedding in Anguilla. At Meghann’s wedding on a tiny island in the middle of the Caribbean, I finally had the chance to meet Kaitlin in person and that night with the wedding reception at full tilt, we had one of those it’s-so-loud-in-here-we-have-to-yell-in-each-other’s-ears-conversations about me coming to photograph Ride TZ in 2014. So there I was at a dream wedding, in a dream location, with dream people, talking about the big dreams of the bride and her dear friend that all happened to coincide with something I had been dreaming of, marrying my passions for photography, cycling, and adventure. Weddings man, what a thing.
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So what is RideTZ and why would I block off three weeks of our busy wedding season to travel around the world and take part in it?
Ride TZ is a biennial 10 day, 400 mile bike ride for a small group of riders of all skill levels through rural Tanzania from the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean. Ride TZ exists to raise money and awareness for the work of The Foundation For Tomorrow, an organization that believes in the power of education and every child’s right to receive quality education. TFFT works to improve the quality of schools in Tanzania while also providing Tanzania’s most vulnerable children with comprehensive scholarships that provide schooling, support, and guidance to scholars for 12 years. Prior to jumping on my saddle for Ride TZ, I spent a week with Meghann, Kaitlin, and their amazing team of people who work at the various schools and partner orphanages. I was blown away by the INCREDIBLE job that TFFT does at helping to provide an education for these kids. But more importantly, TFFT is about inspiring and encouraging them, and witnessing their whole hearted effort and passion for these kids was truly life changing. I was able to meet and photograph each and every scholar that TFFT supports and I cannot wait to share those images as well.
Ride TZ is a massive undertaking in every sense; it demands a huge commitment of effort, time, and money. All of the riders must pour so much of themselves into not only training for the ride, but also introducing TFFT’s story and mission to their networks to fundraise for this amazing cause. The group of 12 riders who embarked on Ride TZ in 2014 fundraised just over $100K!
With so many doing so much, the very least I can do is bring along my cameras to help document this once in a lifetime adventure for everyone in involved.
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You can find out more about TFFT's life changing work in Tanzania here - The Foundation For Tomorrow
Learn more about Ride TZ and consider joining us in the Summer of 2018! - Ride TZ
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On a side note. For the first two Ride TZ adventures in 2010 and 2012, they were both photographed by someone who was there strictly to photograph. Which meant shooting from the Land Rovers or getting ahead of the group, shooting as they came by, and repeating. I was the first photographer to physically ride the whole journey along with the riders, earning myself the nickname "Ridetog." So the photos I'll be posting here were mostly shot with one hand on the bike, one hand on the camera...amazingly I never fell doing so over the course of our ten days. All images were shot on a Fuji XT-1 with a 18-55mm zoom lens.