Courtesy Photo by Julia Olson

IDAHO FALLS — A group of Texas-based cyclists were pleasantly surprised by what they found last week when they crossed into Idaho. Several in the group had never been to the Gem State before and were impressed with east Idaho’s landscape and people.

“Idaho was more beautiful than I expected,” said Sarah Gutberlet.

The cyclists are part of Texas 4,000, a group raising awareness and funds for cancer research. There are three groups of University of Texas students cycling across the United States. The Rockies group (25 riders) stopped in Pocatello and then Idaho Falls on separate nights. After that, they were headed to Teton and Yellowstone parks. Their trip covers about 4,000 miles and goes from Texas to Alaska. See their progress here.

“The most challenging part is being out of my comfort zone 24/7,” said Lexie Mason. “It’s a new adventure every day. I go to sleep in one place and then sleep somewhere else the next night. It’s a lot of cycling every day.”

The Texas 4,000 organization hopes to help student riders become future leaders as they also work to help eradicate cancer.

All along the cycling trail, the riders may have tired muscles but they have also had amazing experiences. Many people talk to them at rest stops and even at stoplights. The group agreed that they are amazed at the generosity of others.

They ride every day in memory of family and friends who have suffered from cancer. All three groups hope to raise a total of $875,000. They give the money to different cancer groups. They are able to meet some of them in person on their travels. The Rockies group recently presented a check for $15,000 to Brent’s Place in Denver.

Each rider explains why they ride on their online profile.

Here is part of Gutberlet’s reason for riding: “I ride for those moments of hope that can feel so very far away and so very small, but are essential spots of light on what can feel like a perpetually black canvas. No matter how small, or where that hope comes from, it is vital. The Texas 4000 team is a community that lives and breathes hope and knowledge for families and friends.”

Each day on the trail is a new adventure, some days more challenging than others. They had a tail wind in Oklahoma, which helped, but then they definitely slowed down going up the mountains of Colorado. They average about 80 miles of cycling (including rest stops) per day. Current riders joined in November 2015 to begin bike training and fundraising. They also work together to plan their route and stops.

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