Cyclists ride more than 4,000 miles for cancer, stop in Wichita
Madison Weigand is not your typical athlete.
Her favorite part of soccer is the frozen grapes during halftime, and her favorite part of swimming is the parka she wears when not in the pool.
So it should come as no surprise that Weigand’s favorite part of riding over 4,000 miles as part of the Texas 4000 ride from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska, is not the cycling.
Rather, it is fighting for cancer prevention and awareness.
Weigand, a recent graduate of University of Texas, included Wichita in the Texas 4000 route because her dad and grandfather resided in Wichita, and her grandfather, Michael Weigand Sr., died from lung cancer.
“My grandfather was very fond of Wichita,” she said. “I’m very fond of this place, and I feel very fortunate to be here and have this meaningful experience with my family.”
She raised over $10,000 for cancer in preparation for the ride and will spread awareness for cancer prevention.
“I ride because I found my why,” she said. “I have a connection, a story, a why.”
Her “why” for riding is those she lost to cancer.
She remembers her first dog who died of lung cancer, her fourth-grade teacher, her piano teacher, and three of her grandparents who fought cancer and died during her freshman year of college.
“Cancer is all around me,” Weigand said. “I have been struck by it. I am connected to it. It’s in my story and I ride for them.”
Now, she is riding to fill the dark space in her life with light.
“I’m nervous about the unknown,” she said. “We try to expect the unexpected, but at the end of the day that’s what it will be – unexpected.”
The cyclists ride the miles over 70 days with elevations ranging from 500 to 14,000 feet.
On Tuesday, the 12th day of the trip, the team rode 116 miles.
“It’s those stories which drive us and continue to allow us to get on the bike every day and ride high mileage,” she said. “And it is tiring, but we all have a strong sense of purpose and drive for this mission.”
The team of 70 riders will consume more than 5,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, use over 35 gallons of sunscreen and change an average of five flat tires a day.
“It’s an adventure,” she said. “But cycling is the travelers’ sport and we trained for this. We’ll go long distances and capture the small details.”
Kim Gee Vines and Valerie Vines of Wichita are one of nine families hosting the cyclists for one night in Wichita.
“There was no question that we would be on the list,” Kim said. “I don’t know anybody who hasn’t been touched by cancer – that hasn’t had it strike close enough to home to bring tears to their eyes when they hear about it.”
Valerie has a special connection to the ride. She is a junior at the University of Texas and plans to ride the Texas 4000 next summer.
“I am so excited to ride next summer and to get to host these guys even if it’s just for a night of their summer,” she said.