Riders fight through Texas 4000 for charity

Texas 4000 Riders in Prince George

Some of the most difficult parts about riding a bike for 4,000 miles (6,437 kilometres) are also the most rewarding for participants in this year’s Texas 4000 fundraiser for cancer research.

“We meet a lot of people fighting along the way and it’s always really hard when you hear their stories. You empathize with these people and you just leave a part of your heart with everyone you meet along the way,” said Hali Rode. “But it also reminds you why you’re doing this and it helps to motivate you as well.”

Rode, 22, was part of the the first group of 28 cyclists to pass through Prince George on the way from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska. Her group, making the two-wheeled trip through the Rockies is one of two that take a day off in the city – hosted by Dorrie Sharcott for the past decade.

“When you’re on the bike you’re physically and mentally exhausted… You just want to do everything you can for the people who are fighting because we ride for everyone who’s fighting, not just our personal reasons,” said Alexandria Webb, 21. “So I think the hardest part is remembering to push yourself as hard as you can for those people when it’s freezing cold and raining on you or you’re going up a mountain.”

The next group, travelling through the Sierra range, arrives in Prince George July 21 and will leave July 23.

Billed as the world’s longest charity bicycle ride, this year’s Texas 4000 group is made up of a total of 79 University of Texas at Austin students who left home on May 31.

The 11-year-old ride has been completed by more than 400 riders, covering more than two million miles to raise in excess of $4 million.

Each rider has a different reason for joining in on the taxing journey. For Schuyler Dale, 21, it’s a friend who lost a five-year battle with cancer at the age of 22 earlier this year.

Spending 70 days on the rode also allows participants a chance to get outside their own comfort zone and learn to lean on the group, said Dale – much like those dealing with cancer diagnosis need to rely on their own support systems.

Rode is biking for the person who raised her – her grandmother – who has lived with breast cancer for a decade while Webb rides for her uncle who was struck hard and fast by the disease while she was in high school.

And though they may have a personal connection to cancer, Texas 4000 cyclists say they’re doing it for everyone.

“I think we want people to know that they aren’t alone in the fight that they’re having. There are people fighting for them and raising money for them and their loved ones,” said Webb. “We’re pouring our heart and soul into this because of the people we lost or the people we still have fighting, but we’re also pouring our heart into a cancer-free future. We just want them to know we’re there for them and we’re thinking of them every day on the bike.”

To follow the group’s journey, or to donate, visit www.Texas4000.org.

by Charelle Evelyn

The Prince George Citizen. July 17, 2014.