s 4000 cyclists stop in Snyder, share stories 



Kara Adkins (left) and Caitlyn Valadez arrived at Western Texas College Tuesday afternoon as part of the Texas 4000 bicycle ride. Adkins, Valadez and 70 other students from the University of Texas are rid- ing in three teams along different routes from Austin to Anchorage, Alaska to raise money for cancer research.

Texas 4000 cyclists stop in Snyder, share stories

Twenty-two students from the University of Texas arrived in Snyder on bicycle Tuesday after a day of sweat, aches and sunburn. Those obsta- cles pale in comparison to the cause for which they are riding.

The students, along with 50 others, are partic- ipating in Texas 4000, a 70-day bike ride from Austin to Anchorage, Alaska to raise money for cancer research. The program began in 2004, and splits the riders into three routes, Rockies, Ozarks and Sierra, which goes through Snyder.

Despite a trip covering more than 4,500 miles, more than 100 applications are submitted every year, largely because nearly every rider has been affected by cancer in some way.

Caitlyn Valadez, assistant ride director for the Sierra route, lost her grandfather and uncle to cancer in the same year. She said she has felt a sense of camaraderie.

“Everybody has a unique story,” Valadez said. “A huge part is telling your story through your application. I think my application was about eight or nine pages long, when I applied two years ago.”

After the riders are selected, they are put through a grueling 18-month training program to prepare them for the ride, which includes 1,500 miles of training.

The majority of the riders were not avid cy- clists and had trouble adjusting to riding a road bike, as well as balancing training rides while still going to school.

“It was crazy,” Martha Mai said. “It taught me how to balance my time between school, social life and Texas 4000.”

The 72 students left Austin on Friday, and

split into their three routes two days later. Each group rides about 75 to 80 miles per day, staying at a designated site each night.

The Sierra group, which will ride from Snyder to Lubbock today, is riding through West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and up the West Coast to Canada before arriving in Anchorage. The task may seem daunting, but the riders are motivated by their cause of sharing hope, knowledge and charity.

“Sometimes you have to take a moment and remember why you’re riding,” Cecilia Lopez said.

Lopez is riding for her late sister, Natalia, who passed away from leukemia in 2009 at the age of 16.

Mai said each person rides not only for his or her friend or family member, but for the dedica- tions of all the group members.

“I ride for my friend Carly who was diagnosed in high school,” Mai said. “But I also ride for my teammates and their stories. It’s a privilege to meet people during our trip who tell us someone they love has cancer and that we inspire them. Cancer is such a ruthless disease and it’s affect- ed us all in some way.”

The riders stopped at the Western Texas Col- lege dorms before dinner and a program at First Presbyterian Church. The group ate breakfast at East Side Church of Christ today before begin- ning the next leg.

“We all have a part in making these rides hap- pen,” Connor Hughes said. “We’re not just rid- ing to fight cancer, we’re also paving the way for other people to step up and be future leaders in the fight against cancer.”

Written by Glen Brockenbush