Bike rides with a cause

The wheels will be turning in a big way as groups of bicyclists are about to ride into Pauls Valley.

One is a group of Texas students riding for a good cause closely followed by even more bike riders taking part in a tour called OK Freewheel all the way through Oklahoma.

The first group coming to town is what’s called the Texas 4000.

Riders numbering near 30 are University of Texas students making PV one of their many stops as they bike their way to Anchorage, Alaska.

These UT students are set to arrive here around 6 p.m. Thursday, June 5.

For Kirk Moore, the PVHS assistant principal and athletic director, it was an easy call to say yes.

“Last year they stopped in Ardmore,” Moore said. “For this one they contacted me and asked if we would be interested in hosting one of their stops.

“I thought it was a no-brainer. Coaches want our kids more involved, so this can be a community service project for the students,” he said.

“Our kids can learn about volunteerism and helping other people.”

The Texas 4000 comprises a group of 75 to 80 UT students split into three groups riding from Austin, Texas up to Alaska.

One group takes a west coast route, another further east called the Ozark route and a third right up the middle called the Rockies route.

This third one is stopping here Thursday night for a little rest, complete with some hospitality Pauls Valley style.

Adding to the mix is the type of students taking to their bikes and what they’re riding for.

“This is a very exclusive club,” Moore said about the Texas students.

“They’re all cream of the crop. These are all high level majors, like engineering and pre-med.

“Plus they do all this for cancer research.”

Riders have to apply to be participants in the grueling ride. Once selected they’re required to train for about 18 months before the long ride even begins.

When the group arrives they’ll pedal over to the newly renovated Wacker Park gym. From there they’ll be bused over to the local high school where a variety of tastes will accommodated for dinner.

Volunteering to help are Pauls Valley’s cheerleaders and members of the football and girls basketball teams.

“The kids will prepare meals at our home ec room and come up with air mattresses.”

Riders will then spend the night at the park gym. The following morning they’ll return to the school for breakfast before hitting the road again.

Before leaving something special is planned by everyone there.

“They do a ceremony before leaving each place they stay at,” Moore said about the UT students.

“They all ride for a certain person in their lives. So our kids will give them bracelets for Abby Gamble and Christian Lambeth.

“Our kids will give them something they take for a couple of our own.”

Gamble, a current PV student, is currently facing the battle of her life with leukemia.

Lambeth, a PVHS graduate just days ago, stayed out of school for a year to undergo his leukemia treatments.

Along the way the Texas riders raise money for cancer research and a cancer hospital in Houston, Texas.

The group arriving in PV has a goal of raising $600,000 during their ride.

The second group coming to PV is even bigger as the OK Freewheel’s tour through Oklahoma and up to Kansas should include hundreds of bicyclists.

The Freewheel group is scheduled to stop in Pauls Valley on Tuesday, June 10.

By Barry Porterfield

Pauls Valley Daily Democrat. June 6, 2014.