Biking against cancer

Riding a bike across the country may not seem like an appealing idea, but to Coppell resident Julia Olson, it’s so much more than a bike ride.

The Coppell High School graduate and other students are riding their bikes from Austin all the way to Anchorage, Alaska to raise money and awareness for cancer. Texas 4000 has been hosting this 4,500-mile cross country bike ride since 2004.

“I first heard about Texas 4000 when I was in high school. My sister at UT had a roommate who was in the organization, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” Olson said. “When I decided to go to UT, applying to Texas 4000 was one of the first things I did in the fall.”

Olsen, who loves camping, hiking and meeting new people, rides for several friends and family members who have battled some form of cancer, like her grandfather who is battling blood cancer and her best friend’s dad who battled lymphoma. In her online bio she encourages anyone – even people she doesn’t know – to let her know if there is someone who they would like her to ride for.

“Everyone is affected by cancer, and it absolutely kills me to see so many lives out on pause because of it. Being able to do just the smallest thing to help lower the statistics or bring hope to someone’s day is what keeps me going on the bike,” Olson said.

Each rider is tasked to raise $4,500, ride over 2,000 miles and volunteer about 50 hours before the ride. When Olson was selected last November she was ecstatic.

“The night I found out I was accepted into Texas 4000, I was filled with so much excitement and joy,” Olson wrote on her profile journal.

“This was something I had dreamed of since high school, and I was so happy that it was finally happening,” she said.

There are three routes bikers take to complete this journey: The Sierra, Rockies and Ozarks. Olson is on the Rockies route. This route is the second route to be created by Texas 4000 and travels north in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains through the United States and Canada.  There are many major cites on this route like Dallas, Denver and Park City, Utah.

Olson is on the ride and said the journey has been amazing so far.

“The journey has been incredible. I have loved seeing so many people with truly incredible stories,” she said. “So many people have been affected by cancer and just by wearing our jersey so many people open up and share how they have been affected. That’s something you don’t normally get in everyday life, and I cherish that greatly.”

Along the ride, Olson has 25 teammates to share the journey with. All of them have spent weeks together and have become like a family.

“My teammates have also been incredible, and I have loved the conversations we have had on and off the bike. Spending 70 days with the same group of 25 people is a blast, and you become family,” Olson said.

The money raised is donated to various organizations connected to cancer research. Instead of donating to one specific cause, Texas 4000 shares their proceeds to any organization affected by cancer. People are encouraged to donate to help the riders with their cause.

Olson, who is currently in Canada, has many more days to travel and many more miles to bike. She is fulfilling the dream she’s had in her heart for so long and the journey she has embarked on has changed her many ways. The long bike ride has allowed her to reflect on her life and the lives of those she is riding for.

“The ride has impacted me so much more than I thought it would,” she said. “It has taught me the validity of everyone’s story and that we are capable of so much more that we think. This ride has opened my eyes to a life really lived hard and has inspired me to always live my life with the same passion and excitement as I have embodied this summer.”

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