Texas cyclists will visit North Fork Sunday on way to Alaska

The longest annual charity bicycle ride in the world, the LIVESTRONG Texas 4000 team, will be rolling into North Fork Sunday, just 16 days after departing from Austin, Texas on to their final destination of Anchorage, Alaska. While in North Fork, the Sierra Team of 23 riders, will celebrate and share hope, knowledge and charity with friends and family before continuing on their 70-day journey.

Undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Texas at Austin brave the heat, rain, sleet, wind and even snow while pedaling more than 4,500 miles in support of the fight against cancer. Along their journey, riders will volunteer at community events that contribute in the fight against cancer and visit with cancer survivors, patients, caregivers, and family members to make educational presentations about cancer prevention and early detection.

They also use this time to offer hope, encouragement and share their personal stories to cancer fighters of all ages and to those who have been affected by the disease. Every encounter is an inspirational story the riders carry with them on their journey and quest to fight cancer.

“This ride comes with some obvious physical demands and perhaps less than obvious emotional demands,” said Texas 4000 executive director, Jen Garza. “It’s incredibly encouraging for the riders to be supported by the people of North Fork, and have the opportunity to share their stories about how they pursue this ride in hopes of living in a cancer-free society.”

While in North Fork, the Sierra Team will be hosted by Barry and Sophia Shewsbury.

“They will be pitching tents on my lawn, having dinner and breakfast with us and enjoying our pool,” Barry said. The Sunday dinner menu includes smoked wild turkey and wild pig cooked by Tim Allen with desserts provided by Steve Parks. The Shewsbury’s are graciously inviting the public to the dinner if there is an interest in meeting the riders and learning about cancer prevention and early detection. They ask that visitors bring a ‘pot luck’ item to share with the riders.

In its tenth year, 69 student riders began their journey in Austin on June 1, with a 70-mile community bike ride. From there, the riders head north, separating into three routes: Rockies, Sierra, and Ozarks as they continue on a ride twice as long as the Tour de France. The Sierra group visiting North fork is made up of 23 riders.

Previously, riders separated into two routes- Rockies and Sierra — But a new route — Ozarks, was created to celebrate the organization’s 10-year anniversary.

“The ride itself serves as a metaphor for the difficult battle cancer patients wage each day … a long and difficult road, with hard days and easier ones, good days, and not so good days,” said Bucky Ribbec,director of the Sierra route. “This is a difficult trip for me on many levels, but I have known so many people with cancer who bravely, fiercely, and with determination, fought this dreadful disease. I ride for those people.”

Texas 4000 began 10 years ago when, Chris Condit a University of Texas student and cancer survivor, sought a way to share a message of hope, knowledge and charity to those with cancer. Since then, Texas 4000 has sent over 350 riders on their bicycles, traveling more than 1.9 million miles to honor those affected by cancer. Collectively, these riders have raised more than $4 million for the fight against cancer, funding cancer research projects at MD Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Texas Biomedical Engineering Department, and survivorship programs such as the LIVESTRONG Navigational Services Center.

To learn more about the people that make up the LIVESTRONG Texas 4,000 team, to make a donation or read the riders’ blogs, visit texas4000.org.

Sierra Star