College cyclists stop in Fort St. John over weekend on journey to fight cancer

There are three routes which make up the annual ride and Fort St. John is part of the Ozarks route which travels through places such as Illinois, Wisconsin, Manitoba, Alberta, and B.C. before travelling through the Yukon and reaching Alaska. The Ozarks route itself is relatively new as this is only the second year it’s been part of Texas 4000.

Kevin Helgren is the media and PUBLIC relations director for the Ozarks route. He says the ride is an annual event which intends to cover a number of aspects relating to cancer.

“Texas 4000 is a 501C non profit organization that started back in 2004 at the UNIVERSITY of Texas at Austin. Every summer we send a team of college students from Austin, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska on a 70 day, MORE than 4,500 mile charity bike ride in an effort to spread our three pillars, hope, knowledge, and charity by doing things like fundraising for cancer research and spreading awareness through programs we give in local communities,” Helgren said.

Those on the Ozarks route average 75-85 miles a day, though the longest stretch of the route is a ride from Champagne, Illinois to Chicago, Illinois which was 135 miles.

He adds that the ride did get to be more of a challenge in B.C. considering the varying elevation and weather patterns.

“Cooler weather we don’t typically have a problem with. Issues arise whenever you take lower temperatures and add water to it just because that’s not something we’re necessarily accustomed to. I will say things got rough when we entered British Columbia. The elevation coming into Fort St. John definitely presented some problems but weather wise whenever you start to add water, a lot of gravel on the road, they definitely present problems,” Helgren explained.

The organization has a travel committee in charge of finding accommodations in every city they stop. In the United States they most often stay in individual host homes, community and recreation centres as well as high school gyms with some occasional camping. After the Fort St. John stay the Texas 4000 riders will spend most of their nights camping given how scarce hosting options are the rest of the way.

Riders can only take part in the event once based on the 18 months of TRAINING required leading up to the ride. Riders are required to raise $4,500. The current batch of Texas 4000 riders just broke the fundraising record for the organization as they’ve raised over $589,000 and are hoping to reach $600,000 by the time the ride reaches its conclusion.

Chase Charney