More than a bike ride: FHS grad riding from Austin to Anchorage to support cancer cause

Frisco High School graduate and UT Austin rising senior Austin Sheibmeir is on the adventure of a lifetime. He’s currently somewhere in southeastern Alaska on his Felt Z5 road bike on the last leg of his journey to Anchorage. What’s more, he started his trek in Austin with other UT students as part of the Texas 4000. The chosen students raise money that goes toward grants awarded to organizations that focus on cancer research or cancer support services such as MD Anderson and the LIVESTRONG Foundation.

Sheimeir is studying neuroscience and government. Visit friscoenterprise.com to see more photos of his journey aboard his bike, which tells the stories of his travels through the stickers he’s collected from the places he’s been.

For information about Texas 4000 and to follow Sheibmeir on his ride, visit texas4000.org. 

How did you get involved with the Texas 4000?

My freshman year of college, I met several alumni from the 2014 team who introduced me to the program. After hearing their stories, I knew it was an organization I wanted to get involved in. I applied my sophomore year, went through the interview process, and upon being selected to participate, dropped my Resident Assistant position at the university in order to make time for my involvement in Texas 4000. Joining this organization is one of the best decisions I have made at UT.

 You’ve had many family members touched by cancer. How as that affected you personally?

Family is everything to me. Since I have had four family members battle and survive cancer, I was inspired to ride for their survivorship and continued remission. I recall the times my family wasn’t sure everyone was going to make it to the next Christmas. Having heard all of my teammates’ testimonials, I understand not everyone is as lucky to have no family members pass away, so I don’t take anything for granted.

 How did you prepare for the ride?

I have a triathlon background, so I had bike experience coming into the organization. That being said, I had to bike a minimum of 2,000 miles during our training year to prepare for the summer ride, which was a huge time commitment. We got our bikes at the end of October and trained up until the start of the ride. Outside of training, I also had to fundraise a minimum of $4,500 and volunteer 50 hours in order to go on the summer ride.

 How long have you been biking?

I have been competitively biking since I joined the triathlon club at UT three years ago. However, I’ve been biking since I was a little kid.

 What has been the most exciting part of the ride?

There have been so many exciting parts of the ride, from bonding with my teammates to completing extremely challenging rides to interacting with incredible communities and hosts along the way. There are three different routes, and I chose the Sierra route due to its amount of host interactions in both large and small cities. It’s been inspiring seeing how our mission is received along the road and in the cities we stop in, because every community has been impacted by cancer. 

 What has been the most challenging part?

I think the two most challenging parts of the ride were getting my body used to biking nearly every day and adjusting to 23 other individuals’ schedules. The first two weeks were pretty painful. We were biking a lot of mileage back-to-back in order to get through the desert as quickly as possible. Aside from the general soreness that came from daily athletic activity, there were a lot of other pains that came from biking (e.g. sore bottoms, dry skin, knee inflammation, chafing, sunburned lips, you name it). Also, going from solely taking care of myself to living with 23 others was quite the adjustment. You could say I’ve had to learn a lot of patience.

Physically, our most challenging ride was to South Lake Tahoe from Murphys, California. It was 111 miles with 14,500 feet of total elevation gain, which was insane. There was a 35-mile incline. I still can’t believe I finished it.

What’s it like living on the road?

Living on the road is awesome because I get to see and experience something new everyday. Honestly, it has gotten so normal being on the move that being stationary seems strange now. I haven’t been in the same city for more than 48 hours this entire summer, and it’s been so fun. Not to mention, living out of a suitcase and not showering for days and sleeping in all kinds of arrangements has taught me all about what I can survive on. I certainly don’t need as much as I think I need back at home.

What do you hope to get out of the experience?

I hope to experience a lot of personal growth, both in my mental toughness and how I interact in a team setting. I want to challenge myself physically and know that I’m capable of pushing through any challenge thrown my way.

Why is it important for you to show your support in this way?

Biking to Alaska is a humble metaphor for the fight against cancer. I think the reason I was most inspired to join Texas 4000 was because I was allowed to get involved in the fight without being a doctor or a researcher. Raising money that gets granted to research institutions and cancer support services makes a difference, and I’ve seen the difference our money has made firsthand on this trip.

 

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