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Alaska or Bust: Charity Bike Team Rides Through the Ozarks

Battling cancer is like riding a bicycle for 4,500 miles. That’s how one nonprofit describes it as they host one of the longest bike rides across America—from Austin, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska. KSMU’s Kaitlyn Schwers spoke with a couple riders on the team.
Texas 4000
Some members of the Texas 4000 bike team riding on to Lampasas, Tx. on June 1, 2013. /Credit: www.twitter.com/texas4000

They call themselves Texas 4000—a bike team that consists of 69 college students who have all been affected by cancer in some way. Their purpose is to spread personal stories and awareness on their 70-day bike ride against cancer. These rides are split into three routes across the U.S., one of which is traveling through Missouri this week.

Mayte Salazar, a 21-year-old student from the University of Texas-Austin, is passionate about the cause for which she is intimately connected.

“The reason I’m personally doing this is because of my mother. There are a lot of other students who have also been affected in their families, and they are also doing it for people in their family, they’re doing it for people who are their friends. There are just so many people in this world who have been affected by cancer,” Salazar explained.

The students ride to support each other as well. Barron Peper, another student, says he would not have imagined doing the ride before, until he learned about what some of his fellow classmates had been through.

“I ride for so many different reasons. I ride for all my teammates and all the things they’ve been through, I ride for all the stories we encounter every day, and I ride to end cancer,” Peper said.

Like what a cancer patient experiences, some days are good for the riders and some days are bad.

“You don’t expect the days that you wake up and just don’t feel like being on a bicycle, when it’s very much a mental struggle," Peper said. "And that’s where the mental power comes in to overcome that and remind yourself why you’re here, and I think those are some of the biggest obstacles we have to undergo is what happens inside of us."

Each rider raised $4,500 prior to the journey—each dollar for each mile. Almost half a million dollars will go to M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center, UT Biomedical Cancer Research Center, and Livestrong Foundation.

The group of riders traveling along the Ozarks Route crossed over into Missouri on Friday. They plan on reaching Alaska by August 9, where they’ll reunite with members of the Sierra and Rocky routes. You can follow them on their trip by visiting texas4000.org.

For KSMU News, I’m Kaitlyn Schwers.