College Cyclists Pedal Cancer Awareness

Team rider Bryn Snyder listens Thursday to a question from the audience at Manteca Presbyterian Church as part of the team presentation after dinner.

It looked like a makeshift triage center outside of Manteca Presbyterian Church Thursday evening.

Except for exhausted bodies strewn about, what seemed like an endless supply of cycling jerseys, riding shorts, protective gear, and even towels covered almost every inch of the entrance in the back parking lot of the North Main Street worship center.

And for the 21 cyclists from the Texas capital of Austin, the uneven rows meant that they’d finally have a chance to take a rest – stopping in Manteca for the night after conquering the steep graded hills of Yosemite National Park earlier in the day on their trek to Alaska.

It was a much needed break for the group of cyclists who are tackling the 4,000 mile ride to raise both money and awareness for cancer – something that has either affected each member of the group personally or touched somebody that they loved.

Those who have come out to support either by making a donation to help cover the costs of the expensive journey or just offer a heartfelt hello to those on the bike have helped give each and every one of the riders an added boost even when they’ve been pedaling for what seems like an eternity.

“No matter how tired we are, and no matter how much we might hurt, seeing people there to root us on or be there to support us only helps us go harder,” said ride chairman Jon Stringer. “Ever since we left Austin on this 4,000-mile journey, we’ve ran into so many people who support what we’re doing, and that means a lot.”

When Stringer was only 10 years old, he lost his mother – something that would have crushed just about anybody and force them to give up what had previously been their passion so that they could deal with the grief.

But once he came into contact with the rest of the riders, he found the perfect way to preserve her memory and hopefully raise enough money so that nobody else has to go through what he was forced to go through.

Each of the riders secured their own sponsorship for the multiple-week trip that will continue today through San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge before heading north towards Canada and the rugged Yukon Trail that each of the two-dozen riders will have to conquer on their way to Anchorage, Alaska.

While it’s going to be anything but easy, organizers like Stringer are hoping that people along the way recognize the sacrifice the riders are making and donate accordingly – helping the group to soar beyond the $350,000 they’ve raised this year alone and the $2 million they’ve donated to cancer research ever since the program started.

“The pain of tackling hills and making those long rides is nothing compared to what cancer patients go through on a daily basis,” he said. “If we can do just a little bit to make that easier, then our efforts are successful.”

For more information about the Texas 4000 ride, or to make a donation, visit the group’s website at

By Jason Campbell