Texas 4000: Why We Ride — Part III

Texas 4000 has created opportunities for us to grow as leaders and ensures to prepare us to be the next generation of cancer fighters.



Emmy Laursen

Texas 4000, at first glance, is a group of young, driven students dedicating their summer to fighting cancer by riding their bikes more than 4,5000 miles from Austin, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska. What many people don’t see and often goes unsaid is the planning, organizing, and preparing it takes to make it happen. Not a day goes by where teamwork and being self-sufficient isn’t essential for this journey.

During our 18 month training process each and every single one of us are shaped into the best version of ourselves to serve as a leader not only for our team but also for our community. From the level of being a rider all the way up to the Ride Director position, Texas 4000 has created opportunities for us to grow as leaders and ensures to prepare us to be the next generation of cancer fighters.

Our team consists of more than 80 passionate students. Twenty of them were chosen as representatives to sit on the Executive Leadership team. Alongside learning how to serve on a leadership team, the Chairs also manage their own committee on a weekly basis through reports, agendas, and countless emails. Some common roles that these selected few play are dire to the development of the team in many aspects. On and off the bike, here in Austin, and on the road in the middle of nowhere, there will be conflict. What separates a rider from a leader is how they deal with these situations.

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to be trained on how to have “courageous conversations.” Step by step, we learned how to approach an uncomfortable situation and talk through the conversation positively until meeting an understanding. As a team we learned the different roles we play in scenarios as well as faced our biggest weaknesses as leaders. Returning to the team after our training, I appreciated the conscious decisions and controlled conversations had by the Chairs. I think it was helpful to all of us to know that in any given situation you have control over how you react. 

My favorite leadership experience thus far has been more individually based. All three Ride Directors were assigned to read Emotional Intelligence. The book broke down personalities and default leadership styles. Afterwards we sat down with our Program Director and wrote out our strengths and weaknesses and set goals for future interactions. At this point I feel comfortable funneling different qualities of my leadership style into a way that can benefit the situation.

Texas 4000 has molded my outlook on what it means to be a leader. Before entering Texas 4000 I would consider leadership to be the people that do all of the work. Now I would say that a leader comes in all different shapes and sizes with one common goal of putting others before you. I know I still have a lot of growing to do but I can’t say I’d be the leader that I am today without Texas 4000.

Texas 4000 is dedicated to fighting cancer by sharing hope, knowledge, and charity.  We cultivate the next generation to lead the fight against cancer through our cornerstone event, a more than 4,000 mile bicycle ride from Texas to Alaska.  Join the 2014 team on the first day of their 70-day journey in Texas 4000’s ATLAS ride from Cedar Park to Lampasas.  The ride features a 25, 50, and 70 mile option and ends with a finish line party at Pillar Bluff winery in Lampasas that will include Texas BBQ, wine tasting, and live music.  Find more information and register here: atlasride.org

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