• Route: Smoky-mountains
  • Ride Year: 2021
  • Hometown: Austin

About: Howdy y’all! My name is David and I’m a junior studying Chemical Engineering and Plan II. I grew up in Austin and I’m still trying my best to keep Austin weird. Some things I love in no particular order:

1. Being in nature. I love the calmness of backpacking with my father in New Mexico.
2. Cooking: when I cook I get to combine the chemist and foodie in me to create (sometimes) delicious meals.
3. Laughing so hard I start crying!
4. Music ????????. There’s something indescribably beautiful about finding the perfect song or album for your mood. I write for Afterglow, a music magazine on campus where I get to interview some of my favorite artists in Austin. Everytime I jog around town lake I can’t help but take a moment to give thanks to the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue. As my roommates might tell you, I’m also a chronic shower singer.
5. Photography. Like cooking, I’ve always viewed photography as a combination of science and art. I love capturing the unfiltered emotion at the concerts I photograph with Afterglow.
6. Cargo shorts and chacos with a clashing t-shirt. This one’s pretty self explanatory: every morning I grab the first t-shirt and first pair of pants I see before I leave for the day.
7. Movies. Most Saturday mornings you can find me curled up, getting lost in rom-coms or rewatching Good Will Hunting.
8. Mispronouncing the name of my favorite things (ask me). cuh-SHOES = cashews.
9. Stories. Stories are the fundamental way we connect with others. Really, it’s the only way I know how. If you feel comfortable sharing yours, please don’t hesitate. Drop me a line at

Why I Ride

My grandfather always tried to hide his smoking. After our bike rides to the coffee shop together he would walk out to the alley behind our fence and produce a packet of cigarettes from one of his many coat pockets. I walked up on him once, curious. He fumbled to put it out, turned away and muttered how I should never touch cigarettes. Somehow that’s one of the most vivid memories I have of him. He would tell me of his time sailing or his love for the sea, his work for the government in Colorado during the cold war and his love for fluid dynamics and other obtuse subjects. But somehow that’s one of the things I remember the most.

Grandpa Ralph died when I was a freshman in high school. As the cancer got worse we moved him from his home in Wisconsin to a hospice center in Austin. I visited him one day after school. I didn’t know what to do. I held his hand - still strong like I remembered it. But his face had lost color, and my mother told me this may be the last time I saw him. I told him everything would be ok. I knew it was a lie, but I didn’t know what else to say. I wish I could remember more about my grandfather. I never got the opportunity to know him well and I certainly didn’t take advantage of the time I did have with him. I only have shadows of the time we spend together. He died from cancer before I could sail the Atlantic with him or become the third generation engineer he wanted. I am riding to Alaska in memory of my grandfather, Ralph Carl Koeller.

I ride for my teammates. I ride to share the burdens and pains of cancer because however bad the disease is, alone it becomes even worse. I ride to share knowledge to fight cancer. Perhaps at the deepest level, I ride to find whatever splinters of meaning can be found in the wake of this terrible disease.

“Hard times require furious dancing” ~ Alice Walker.