On the longest annual charity bicycle ride in the world, the Texas 4000 team will be rolling through Florence on Friday, July 14, just 42 days after departing from Austin, Texas, on their way to Anchorage, Alaska. While in Florence, the 2017 Texas 4000 Team will share hope, knowledge and charity with friends and family before continuing on their 70-day journey.
The 71 undergraduate and graduate students from The University of Texas at Austin will brave the rain, sleet, wind, snow and heat while pedaling more than 4,000 miles in the fight against cancer.
After 18-months of leadership development training, volunteering, fundraising and cycling, riders are put to the test throughout their summer ride to Alaska. Along their journey, they visit with cancer survivors, patients, caregivers and communities to make educational presentations about cancer prevention and early detection.
They also use this time to offer hope, encouragement and share their personal stories to cancer fighters of all ages and to those who have been affected by the disease.
Every encounter is an inspirational story the riders carry with them on their journey and quest to fight cancer. Each of this year’s riders will take one of three different routes to Alaska:
• Sierra Route: These riders will head northwest from Austin and cycle through the Southwest to California, then north along the West Coast and into Canada. Major cities along the route include: Santa Fe, N.M.; Davis, Calif.; San Francisco, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; Seattle, Wash.; and Vancouver, B.C.
• Rockies Route: These riders will head north from Austin and cut over to the Rocky Mountains. They’ll ride through the western U.S. before crossing the Canadian border into Alberta, Canada. Major cities along the route include: Dallas, Texas; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Denver, Colo.; Missoula, Mont.; and Calgary, Alberta.
• Ozarks Route: These riders will head east from Austin and cut northeast through the American Midwest before crossing the Canadian border and cycling across four Canadian provinces. Major cities along the route include: Houston, Texas; St. Louis, Mo. Chicago, Ill.; Minneapolis, Minn; Madison, Wis.; Winnipeg, M.B.; Edmonton, Alberta.
In Canada, all three groups will reunite and ride the final 10 days together to Anchorage, Alaska, where the journey has ended since the ride’s inception.
On each of the three routes, the riders will make stops along the way to present grants to cancer research and treatment centers.
More than 615 students have made the trek from Austin to Alaska, collectively raising more than $7 million in the fight against cancer since the ride began in 2003.
Most of the students ride for a friend or family member who has battled cancer — and perhaps lost. A few ride in honor of their own battles with cancer, and many simply ride because they want to see an end to cancer, period.
“Every one of these young men and women in Texas 4000 are committed to the fight against cancer,” said Scott Crews, Executive Director of Texas 4000. “These young leaders have trained hard and possess determination in tackling the more than 4,000 mile ride from Austin to Anchorage, a journey we see as a metaphor for the fight against cancer.”
“Texas 4000 requires a lot of tenacity,” said Sarah Nielsen, a rising senior at The University of Texas at Austin and the Sierra Route Ride Director. “Biking across the country is not an easy feat. It requires a lot of resilience to wake up every morning, get on your bike, and continue on with the journey.
“We find that inner strength and motivation from the people we ride for, our teammates, and the hope for a cancer-free future.”
Shortly after their return home, the riders will celebrate their incredible journey at the Tribute Gala on Friday, Aug. 25, at the JW Marriott.
To learn more about the cyclists making up the 2017 Texas 4000 team, to make a donation or to read the riders’ blogs, visit www.texas4000.org.