Pedaling for cancer research

When most students graduate, they will take some time off and go somewhere for summer vacation. Former BHS graduate and recent UT graduate Rachael “Madi” Madison will be leaving on an epic journey, cycling from Cedar Park to Anchorage Alaska on a 70-day mission to help with cancer knowledge and research.

Madison is a 2009 graduate of Bandera High School and she graduated UT in 2013. She was inspired after seeing so many loved ones facing and cancer including her brother, Andy, also a BHS alumni.

Madison joined the Texas 4000 organization in her junior year at UT. Every year Texas 4000 competitively selects University of Texas students for an 18-month program designed to cultivate the next generation to lead the fight against cancer. Each student is empowered to raise $4,500, ride 1,500 training miles with his/her team, volunteer more than 50 hours in the community, and play an active role in planning every aspect of the ride to Alaska by attending weekly meetings and taking leadership positions within the team. Believe it or not, previous cycling experience is NOT a requirement and the fundraising; training and volunteering all take place BEFORE the summer ride even begins.

Madison and her team will be taking the “Rockies” route; one of three different routes the riders will take to Alaska. The second of the original two routes that were created in 2004, “Rockies“ travels north in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains through the United States and Canada. Passing through North Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, the route then heads into the Canadian provinces and territories of Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon before passing into Alaska. The Rockies route visits many small and remote towns in addition to larger cities, bringing crucial knowledge and hope to communities affected by cancer off the beaten path. The route passes through Dallas, TX; Oklahoma City, OK; Denver, CO; Jackson, WY; Yellowstone National Park, WY; Missoula, MT; Glacier National Park, MT; Calgary, AB; Prince George, BC; and Whitehorse, YT, before reaching Alaska.
If you would like to share your story or would like Rachael to ride in honor of a loved one, you can contact her at

To donate to the cause go to, click on the riders tab, look for Rachael Madison’s photo, and click on the “donate now” button. She has already exceeded her $4500 target but any and all donations goes toward cancer based research and support.

From the Texas 4000 website: Each year, Texas 4000 awards grants to organizations with a focus on cancer research or cancer support services. Established requirements for grantees include involvement and investment in the Texas 4000 program as well as the ability of the grant to make a significant relative impact. The grant review committee consists of the most recent alumni riders, previous alumni, Board members, staff, and community members. A few examples of previous Texas 4000 grants:

MD Anderson Cancer Center (Distinguished Professorship Endowment, Center for Molecular Markers, Center for Targeted Therapy, and Children’s Cancer Hospital)

LIVESTRONG Foundation (Navigation Support Services and Community Impact Project)

University of Texas at Austin Department of Biomedical Engineering (multiple research seed grants, Established Texas 4000 Endowment)

Brent’s Place (“Safe-Clean” living accommodations for immune-compromised children undergoing cancer treatment)

As you read this, Madison will be in the second week of the 10-week ride and into Colorado. She will have stories to tell and aches, pains and probably some bruises to go along with it.

But she will continue, baring any unforeseen circumstances, because she has a driving force to keep her motivated.

“Each day we dedicate our ride to those that are fighting or have fought. I ride for my former teachers at Bandera High School, Mr. Warren and Ms. Small along with countless others who have faced this disease. Without their inspiration, I would not be able to keep pedaling,” Madison said.

Madi’s Big Adventure
The continuing saga about Rachael Madison and her ride to Alaska to help cancer research

Editors Note: The Bandera Bulletin will help you follow along with Rachael Madison on her epic journey to Alaska by bike to benefit cancer research and awareness. The following are excerpts from her blog.

May 30, Day 0
In a few short hours, I will hop onto Stinky Pete (my bike) and bike over to campus, leaving my car in the driveway for 2 1/2 months. I’ll cycle into an empty parking lot where a group of college kids in jerseys will have their arms wrapped around each other in a large circle. We will say our last ride dedications here in Austin…and then we will begin a bike trip.

I’ve been waiting so long for this day to arrive (36 months to be exact, thanks to a lovely torn knee). I am still in shock that Day Zero has arrived. It amazes me that after tonight, I will be cycling towards Alaska…spending hours on my bike thinking of those who have motivated me, those who have influenced me, and even those who have pi**ed me off. I’ll think of short story ideas that won’t ever make it to paper, I’ll see things that won’t ever translate through a picture, and I’ll find corners of my mind that have never been explored. We’ll run into people who will either look at us funny, yell at us, or cheer us on…which is something I’ll learn to adapt to. We’ll cross paths with strangers’ story lines and share the tales that have shaped our lives. Ultimately, the ride will morph new perspectives.

Hopefully this blog will chronicle any growth that I go through. More importantly, this gives me the space needed to document the conversations that need to be shared with my family and friends. Everyone’s words need to be valued, so these posts will help give permanence to the stories that are shared with me.

I am anticipating the hard days, the heat, the hills, the rain, and my crankiness. And I am ready for them, because that’s when I think most about those whom I’ve lost and those who didn’t choose to fight…yet they still did. On those crap days, I’ll remember who grabbed my shoulders and told me to keep going…who told me to breathe and calm down. I’ll remember who still smiled even when they had nothing to be happy about. So…give me those crappy days, because that’s why I am here.

As of press time, “Madi” is somewhere in the state of Colorado. Here is the route so far, from the start.

Day 0 (5.30): Cedar Park
Day 1 (5.31): Lampasas
Day 2 (6.01): Glen Rose
Day 3 (6.02): Dallas
Day 4 (6.03): Dallas
Day 5 (6.04): Denton
Day 6 (6.05): Pauls Valley, Okla.
Day 7 (6.06): Oklahoma City, Okla.
Day 8 (6.07): Watonga, Okla.
Day 9 (6.08): Woodward, Okla.
Day 10 (6.09): Guymon, Okla.
Day 11 (6.10): Clayton, N.M.
Day 12 (6.11): Trinidad, Colo.

by Chris Darus