Texas 4000 Riders Begin Their Trek to Alaska
Beginning a 4000 mile journey
Editor's Note: This summer, the Texas 4000 riders will be blogging for AFM about their 4,000-plus mile journey to Alaska to raise money for cancer research.
Cancer never sleeps. Neither do we. That’s how it has felt these last five days. We become stronger cancer fighters with every person we meet, whether it be at a gas station asking for water, staying up late talking with a host family, or riding in front of a store where people are standing and ask us, “What are you doing all the way out here?”
We’ve experienced the dichotomy of the human condition, the ups and the downs. Drivers can be ruthless on the road, but our hosts have a special talent in wiping away all the hardships of the day with their incredible generosity. We’ve had glorious stretches of road where we can push upwards of 25 mph, and we’ve had some hills that slow us to a crawl. It is in those moments that we remember who we ride for, borrowing their vitality to push us over the top and onto our next challenge.
It’s been quite the emotional roller coaster. Tears were shed when the three routes separated on Day 2. We gritted our teeth for a grueling Day 3 where the sun was in full force. Applause rang on Day 4 when MD Anderson opened the Texas 4000 Garden on their campus to recognize Texas 4000 for all of their contributions over the years. We were filled with pride when the team was invited to stand before the city council in Houston to receive the proclamation of the first annual Texas 4000 Day on June 4th. I feel as though the biking portion of our day might actually be the most relaxing. I get to speak with my teammates, take in the scenery (the Ozarks route is BEAUTIFUL), and let my mind think about what it really is we’re doing.
It’s hard to pace myself. Sometimes I get super pumped and get the urge to stay in that big ring and crank it up a hill. I have to remind myself, though, that I have to get up and do it all over again the next day, so high cadence and easy gears are key. I find that I just want to make it over the next hill, to the next challenge, or to see the next sight, but I have to remember that it isn’t a race, and if I focus on just getting to my destination, I’m going to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see things I would normally never get to see.
We're not worried about being calorie deficient since our host families are so eager to feed us. That will probably change as we get into Canada where we’re in the middle of nowhere, and I will start having to really rely on the food I brought with me. We’ve been pretty lucky in that we’ve had lots of food donations from places such as Church’s Chicken, Jack in the Box, and Sonic. Pretty high in calories, but my plan has always been to not care about caloric intake while on the bike, and eat like a normal person off the bike. Of course, you WANT to devour everything in sight, but I know my body and if I load up on too much food I’ll hinder my performance.
I’ve decided something: This will be the worst shape I will be in for the rest of my life. I’m going to push my body further. I want to do triathlons and an Ironman. I want to do adventure runs. It’s addicting, even though it hurts. Pain is temporary though; success is forever.