Editor’s note: This article was originally published August 19, 2013
With nearly 4,700 miles under their bike seats, 69 University of Texas students rolled into Anchorage, Alaska, earlier this month, wrapping up their summer ride that started in Austin.
The trip marked the 10th edition of the Livestrong Texas 4000, which expanded this year from two to three routes and added 20 cyclists to its roster.
The riders all started in Austin on June 1. They spent 70 days pedaling an average of 70 to 80 miles a day, with a few rest days tossed in.
The group split into three factions, with one cruising west to the Sierra Nevada mountains, another aiming for the Rocky Mountains and the third cutting through the Ozarks and into the midsection of the country. They merged and rode the last 10 days into Alaska together, and on Aug. 9 all 69 cyclists who started arrived in Anchorage.
"Our Ozarks route was a wild success, reaching many new people and sharing our mission across a whole new section of the continent," said program director Lance Pyburn.
Like two-wheeled postal carriers, they pedaled through wind, rain, snow and heat, covering deserts, mountains and farmland during their trek, which is more than twice as long as the Tour de France. Along the way, they camped, stayed with host families and slept on floors in churches and school gymnasiums. They also led educational programs in the communities they visited, raising cancer awareness and money for disease research and support services.
This year’s group was the largest team ever, and they raised more than $465,000. With the bigger group came a longer dedication circle, too. Before pedaling into Anchorage the last day, the cyclists spent four hours telling the stories of people affected by cancer that they met along the way.
Want to congratulate them in person?
The Texas 4000 Austin Homecoming is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at Austin Music Hall, 208 Nueces St. KVUE anchor Tyler Sieswerda will emcee the event, which includes cocktails, dinner, a silent auction, live music and dancing. Tickets are $175 each at www.texas4000.org. Table sponsorships are also available.