Austin to Anchorage
Crossing more than 4,000 miles, including rugged mountain terrain, cyclists in the Texas 4000 ride in honor of cancer victims and survivors.
University of Texas students and recent graduates ride from Austin to Anchorage, Alaska over the course of 70 days. Cyclists dedicate their ride to someone they know who has been affected by cancer.
Each participant also is responsible for raising money to go toward fighting cancer.
The first day of the journey this Saturday ends at Pillar Bluff Vineyard south of Lampasas.
Participants can choose a 25- mile route that starts and ends at Pillar Bluff, or a 50- or 75- mile route, which each start in Leander and end at the vineyard near Lampasas.
A post-ride festival with barbecue, live music and drinks will take place at the finish line.
After staying in the Lampasas area, cyclists will ride to Glen Rose as the next step in their long trip up north.
John Flynn, who graduated this year from the University of Texas, is riding in honor of his mother and “everyone whose life has been affected by cancer.”
Flynn was a college freshman when his mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.
He watched his determined mother fight through the disease for more than two years. He wanted to show her that she was not fighting alone, so he determined to ride to Alaska in the Texas 4000.
Flynn, who is from San Antonio, already enjoyed cycling but his mother’s diagnosis motivated him to ride across the country to fight the disease.
“I knew it was something I had to do,” Flynn said.
After his mother’s death, the Texas 4000 means even more to him.
Training and getting to know other cyclists in the ride has been great, Flynn said.
“Since I lost my mom, that’s really the best thing that’s helped me to heal.”
Many of the other riders have lost a loved one to the disease.
Each ride that is part of the trip starts with a dedication, Flynn said. Cyclists circle up and say who they are riding for.
In addition to his mom, Flynn knows several other people who have fought cancer. A close friend and several other relatives have lost their lives to the disease.
Participants in the Texas 4000 train for a year and a half, Flynn said. During that time, they log 2,000 miles on the bike.
They also have to pass a century test – a 100-mile ride – in order to be included on the full trip.
While he and other UT students are doing the entire route to Alaska, family members are allowed to ride along for a single day. Flynn’s father, brother and sister plan to take part in the ride to Lampasas this weekend.
There are three separate routes from Austin to Anchorage that cyclists are taking this year.
Flynn is doing the Rocky Mountain route. The course includes stops in the Rocky Mountains National Park, Yellowstone National Park,Glacier National Park and more than 2,000 miles in Canada.
Another course is the Sierra Route, which travels through the Southwest, up the California coast and Pacific Northwest before entering Canada.
The Ozarks Route detours to the east, passing through the Mississippi River Valley and up to Chicago before turning northwest across the prairies of the U.S. and Canada.
In a single day, riders travel a distance ranging from 70 to 100 miles, Flynn said.
A travel committee makes advance arrangements for where cyclists will stay overnight.
Flynn said riders generally stay with host families in places along the route. The host families often donate meals.
Hosting fundraisers and soliciting donations through letters and social media posts help raise funds. Another major source of funds is the tribute gala around the end of the ride in August, which includes an auction.
Being a part of Texas 4000 “has really helped me learn about sacrifice and the charity of others,” Flynn said. “People are pretty generous when we ask for donations.”
The experience also teaches “determination and motivation, sticking with your team,” Flynn said, “because it is pretty grueling at times.
“Ride dedications are what keeps us going when it’s raining and when it’s really hot,” and through other difficulties.
Flynn graduated this year with a double major in English and history. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in journalism from UT next year.
Written by Jeff Lowe
See original article here.