Livestrong Texas 4000 riders are peculiar. In a good way.
They are physically fit. How could they not be, after biking from Austin to Anchorage during the annual charity ride?
They are kind. How else to explain their empathetic stories of friends or family battling cancer in whose name they ride and the anecdotes about helping their peers along the road?
They are also unusually open. The first rider that I met, John Fitch, must be one of the most genuine guys I’ve ever known. (So much so, I sometimes wonder when he’ll do something mendacious, like any other regular person.)
That attribute is not uncommon among Texas 4000 riders, as was confirmed Saturday during the Tribute Dinner at the Austin Music Hall.
I met Chris and Mandy Condit, who founded the ride 10 years ago. The Texas exes now live in Dallas and are still astonished that the Texas 4000 rolls on, now with 69 riders and three routes. The newest trip goes through the Ozarks.
Later I was introduced to Jimmy and Bridget Schatte, who whipped up the first Tribute Dinner seven years ago. "We did it in six weeks," Bridget says. "Now it’s a machine." Did they ride? "We would have!" Jimmy says, but they were already aged out when the time came. (Only UT students can ride.)
Greeting everybody at the Austin Music Hall were Josh Walther and Ethan Perez. They wore the sharp Texas 4000 riding outfits and the eager smiles that I now recognize as typical of future riders. (Next year!)
Samantha Archer and Jonathan Amos looked wiser, more composed. They rode this summer. They laughed while describing a moose family that blocked their way just short of the finish line.
When Archer’s group rolled into Carthage — on a day that saw 24 collective flat tires — they were put up in church where the minister kept piling on the pizzas and promising a free showing of "Bernie," the Richard Linklater dark comedy that was filmed in that East Texas town.
Now here’s a telling detail: In the Canadian wilderness, their data charges were so high, the riders stopped using GPS. But then they discovered they could draw on few scouting skills without it.
Tech gives and tech takes away.