UT Students will bike 4,700 miles for LIVESTRONG

43 University of Texas students will cover around 4,700 miles for a 70-day record trip from Austin to Alaska on June 2. Known as the Livestrong Texas 4000 for Cancer, the cyclists will raise awareness and money for research as they trek the distance.

Texas 4000 is a charity biking group made up of those whose lives have been touched by cancer. The UT riders are at the heart of the organization and handle training, fundraising and safety education. Guiding them through the process are the board of directors, sponsors, LIVESTRONG partners, MD Anderson, host families, donors and other volunteers.

A majority of riders are new to cycling and come from different backgrounds and degree concentrations. Though there are many differences, the team is tied together by their “desire to find a cure for cancer, prevent cancer through education, and bring hope to those affected by cancer.”

“We are here to train and develop young leaders to make a difference in the world and especially in the fight against cancer,” Lance Pyburn, Livestrong Texas 4000 Program Director, said.

Riders on this year’s team range in age from 19 to 26 and were chosen from over 300 applicants. They will travel 70 to 100 miles a day, with seven days off for breaks. The team will also take turns operating support vehicles and setting up rest stops. Along their journey, the group will speak with patients and make presentations. They will stay with host families, schools, churches and camps.

Jack & Adam’s Bicycles provide bikes to Texas 4000 and serve as the official bike sponsor. The shop is full service and places an emphasis on triathlon. Since they opened on February 7, 2004, the shop has been awarded City Sports Magazine’s “Best of Texas” distinction each year in the categories of Bike Shop and Triathlon Store.

“It started as us just helping the team out and not being the official bike shop sponsor,” said shop owner Jack Murray. “We liked working with the group and they liked working with us, so we just decided to make it official. We care about the cause they support and we think it is cool that they ride 4000 miles to Alaska.”

Each rider is expected to log 1,500 training miles, volunteer 30 hours a semester, and raise at least $4,500 in donations. Last year’s team raised $330,000 for MD Anderson Cancer Center, Livestrong Navigation Support Center and the UT biomedical engineering department research. A goal of $300,000 has been set for this year.

The public is invited to join in on the first leg of the journey. There are distance options of 25, 50 and 70 miles for the Atlas Ride which leaves from Running Brushy Middle School in Cedar Park at 8 a.m. on June 2 and ends with a party in Lampasas. A 25-mile out-and-back route begins at 10 a.m. from Pillar Bluff Winery and Vineyards in Lampasas. Registration includes barbecue and live music and costs $60 online, or $70 the day of the event.

Riders will then split into two groups after the first leg of the trip. One group will head to the Rocky Mountains, while the other will tackle the Sierras. They will then reconnect in Prince George, Canada in order to travel to Anchorage together.

“I guess I’m looking forward to the way the ride surprises you because you hear so many stories from alumni but you really have no idea until you’re on it,” said rider Shea Flynn. “The ride is going to exceed my expectations.”