Why We Ride: Texas 4,000 Tales From the Road, Part III

Forty-six days ago the 2014 Texas 4000 team began our journey across North America. I am currently writing this blog post in a café in Vancouver near the waterfront. Never in my life would I have predicted that I would bike to Canada. Without a doubt, this experience has afforded me the ability to grow both physically and emotionally. After climbing several mountains—and a volcano—we have learned to rely on each other to get through each day. In Oregon, we biked more than 400 miles in four days while camping each night. The challenges present themselves in various ways, whether it is the physical demands of being on the bike day after day or the inability to manage our real lives that we left in Austin. Outside of Texas 4000 I have many obligations that have been left unattended. Five days after returning from the summer ride I will have my first medical school interview. Shortly afterward, we will begin school again.

The road ahead of is full of fun and climbing. For example, immediately after leaving Vancouver we will be challenged with climbing more mountains to get out of British Columbia. One part of the road has an 8 percent grade for 11 consecutive miles. In other words, the smell of burning brakes from cars trying to control their speed downhill will surround us as we climb the mountain. Fortunately, at this point in the trip, we all feel hope by knowing we are capable of pushing our bodies to do the “impossible.” The pain we feel on the bike no longer resonates in our minds for the entire ride. After a few miles of riding, our legs become warmer and the pain quickly dissipates. Our growth as riders is apparent in our outlook on long rides. Every time we are presented with any ride under 80 miles our team is very pleased.

To date, this trip has been the most amazing thing I have done in my life. In 24 days, I will be able to say I rode my bike from Austin, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska. The most important part of the ride is not the final destination, but what we did along the ride to impact various communities. In my hometown, Lubbock, the Sierra route stopped at a hospital to visit cancer patients to spread hope. Also, in Vancouver, we are presenting a check to Young Adult Cancer Canada so they can support young cancer fighters in Canada. This is the first donation Texas 4000 is making to a Canadian organization. I am very proud of this moment because Canada has given a lot to Texas 4000. Our team is very happy to reciprocate their kindness. In the coming weeks, we will rejoin the other two routes in Whitehorse. The day is highly anticipated by all of us. We spent 18 months training together, as one team, and the day for us to finish this ride is quickly approaching. As we reflect on our mission, we hope our impact will last. But most of all, we hope our impact will be further developed by next year’s 2015 Texas 4000 team, as we ride for those who cannot.

by Brandon Ortiz, 2014 Rider