Twenty-four cyclists slept on the floor of Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School’s music room on Sunday, July 22.
The group stopped in 100 Mile House on day 50 of a 70-day bike ride from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska.
Samantha Finkenstaedt, director of the Sierra route, said each rider has been impacted by cancer in some way and is riding, “to spread our three pillars: hope, knowledge and charity.”
“Biking is meaningful in its own sense because it’s kind of a metaphor for what a cancer patient goes through in a day,” she said.
The riders were not cyclists before joining the Texas 4000 organization, according to Finkenstaedt.
“It’s been funny and now we think we’re pros.”
The group, consisting of University of Texas at Austin students or recent grads, stops in various communities to share stories and hold information sessions along the way. They held free skin cancer screenings in Austin, for example.
Riders sleep in community centres, schools, churches, or sometimes, residents even open their homes for them.
Every morning, the group dedicates the day’s ride to someone who has been impacted by cancer and often invite community members to the dedication.
“People have been very generous … it’s been really rewarding,” said Finkenstaedt.
Ruthvik Allala, another one of Sierra route directors, said he is riding for his grandmother, who was diagnosed with throat cancer after his freshman year of college.
“Watching her go through that and seeing what that did with my family motivated me to give back in a meaningful manner,” he said.
The trip journey has had ups and downs, said Allala. “Days sometimes feel like weeks and then when you look back on it you’re like, ‘Wow. That was just two weeks ago.’ Time is kind of a weird construct here.”
With only 20 days left in the trip, he said the group is becoming “a lot more sentimental” because they know their time together is limited.
Physically, he said he became intensely fatigued at one point but that the team rallies behind each other to push forward.
A van and trailer travel along the route so any rider experiencing an illness or injury has the option to rest for a day or two.
Carolyn Martin opted to rest for a day after an old knee injury flared up during the ride but she said it’s rare for riders to take days off the road.
Martin is riding for her aunt who passed away from pancreatic cancer on July 24, 2015. She said her team will dedicate their ride to her late aunt when the anniversary day comes up.
“I’m also going to ride for her especially on that day, but this entire summer I’ve been riding for her.”
For more information about Texas 4000, or to donate, go to texas4000.org.
donated to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, in Seattle, for a new form of lung cancer diagnostic
riders taking the Sierra route journey
approximately the number of miles ridden per day
total miles ridden once the trip is complete
the money each rider raises before riding
the year Texas 4000 was founded by Chris Condit, who survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a child