Members of the 2013 Texas 4000 arrive in Alaska. Photo by Aaron Leondar/Texas 4000

After months of preparation, itís go time for this yearís group of University of Texas students who are pedaling from Austin to Anchorage.

The 67 student cyclists participating in Texas 4000 will roll out of Austin on Friday, ticking off the first miles in their 4,687-mile summer commute to Alaska. The cyclists raise money to fund cancer research and speak to community groups along the way, raising awareness about cancer.

Last week, the non-profit group announced it would award eight grants worth a total of $435,000 to cancer-fighting organizations. The group has raised more than $7 million through its rides and given out $3 million in grants since 2003.

Members of the public will join the riders on Saturday, the first real leg of the 70-day journey, as they ride from Leander to Pillar Bluff Vineyards in Lampasas in the Atlas Ride.

After that, the team will split into three groups. One will head west to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and another will aim for the Rocky Mountains. A third group will cut across the midsection of the country in the Ozarks route. The three groups will merge and ride the last 10 days into Alaska together.

For more information about Texas 4000 and this Saturdayís Atlas Ride, go here.