Texas 4000 spins into Whistler

The Texas 4000 cycling group passed through Whistler on Wednesday (July 16) with a local family hosting 24 team members before they continued north towards Yukon and eventually Alaska.

Last week’s heat wave was not what the team was expecting after riding through deserts in west Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. “We didn’t know Canada got this hot,” said Ben Morse, 22, who is currently studying finance at the UNIVERSITY of Texas. “Some people were expecting that once we got to Canada there would just be a wall of snow. It was a bit of a surprise.”

The 24-strong “Sierra” team is riding the Sierra Mountains and the West Coast before a rendezvous in Whitehorse to regroup with the other two Texas 4000 teams that ride through the Rockies and the Midwest in the U.S. Prior to riding from Vancouver to Whistler, the Sierra team spent the day resting and connecting with Vancouver-based cancer charities.

“We donated about $10,000 to Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC’s) to their Localife PROGRAM,” said Morse. “This was actually our first time that we’re donating to an organization within Canada, so that was very exciting for us.”

The Texas 4000 raises money before and throughout its 70 day journey, with the funds raised from the previous year’s team distributed to local cancer organizations in different states along the route. The 2014 teams were at 99 per cent of their combined $600,000 fund raising goal by press time.

“Our first goal was $500,000 and we demolished that pretty quickly,” said Morse. “We’re almost at our second goal of $600,000 and it looks like we’ll have to raise that goal again.”

With the Whistler stop being day 47 of the ride, fatigue was setting in with some team members. But by resting at least once a week and taking turns to drive the support vehicle, everyone is expected to make it up to Alaska.

“We’ve kind of found our groove as a team and it makes a lot of things easier actually,” said 22-year-old economics major Ben Keeler. “We’re on day 47 so it’s a long way in, but we’re getting really good at getting up and biking every day. We’re also getting closer (as a group) so we’re able to support each other better. Even though our bodies might be getting a little MORE fatigued, we’re getting stronger.”

The next leg will take the Sierra team north to Lillooet, Williams Lake, Quesnel and Prince George before making their way further north into Yukon. The Duffey Lake Road has a reputation among Texas 4000 alumni as one of the most difficult segments of the journey with its brutal climbs and exposed corners.

“We heard a story (about Duffey Lake Road) from one of our hosts,” said Keeler. “He said ‘You’ll know you’re there when you can smell the brakes burning on the cars coming down.’”

Vince Shuley / Whistler Question

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