Texas 4000: Why We Ride

By challenging my mind and body and raising $4,500 or more for cancer research through Texas 4000, I wanted to honor my mother, family, and friends affected by cancer.

Christina (far right) and her teammates raise the bar on a 90-mile training ride.

On June 8, 2012, three very important, life-changing events took place.

1. I turned 20, ending the era that was my teenage years;

2. My mother and lymphoma survivor found out that a growth that could have been her second bout with cancer was not cancerous;

3. I decided to apply for Texas 4000.

Upon discovering Texas 4000 for Cancer in the fall of 2011, I immediately wanted to be a part of this amazing organization. The energy and passion I saw in fellow students who were involved was contagious. I finally felt like I had found an environment where I could share my anger, frustration, and desire to eradicate the disease, and it would be relatable. My mother and so many before her in my family and network have dealt with cancer, and I knew this would be an amazing way to join the fight and make a difference in their honor. Not only that, but it would force me to rejoin the team sport environment, exercise regularly and rigorously, eat better and —oh by the way — learn how to ride a bike.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why someone who could not ride a bike at 21 years of age would feel inclined to, let alone think it was possible to cycle more than 4,500 miles from Austin to Alaska in a span of a 70-day summer with about six months to train.
However, if you’ve been personally affected by cancer, you remember your loved one’s pain and know that no feat is too hard, even if it is mind over body, because you’d do anything so that they would live without hurting. Every day with cancer is involuntarily spent with so much aching and fatigue, and having to watch someone go through that, no matter how much you smile through it, or how long and tightly you hold their hand, feels terrible beyond words.

By challenging my mind and body and raising $4,500 or more for cancer research through Texas 4000, I wanted to honor my mother, family, and friends affected by cancer, motivate them to lead healthier lives and be a testament to the hard fact that anything really is possible.

I had been told by previous riders that no biking experience was necessary, and thought that with my determination and competitive cheer background as well as occasional running, yoga, dancing, and boxing, getting on a bike wouldn’t be so bad. Now, I chuckle thinking back, because biking is a completely different animal. But like with any sport, if you push through with drive and courage, commit time, set goals, and especially with a little (or a lot) of help and inspiration from others, you will improve and succeed.

Another way I’ve been able to transition from my days of not knowing bike mechanics and fearing cars on the road to now completing 90-mile rides is focusing on progress. Many of my teammates are faster and stronger than me, making it easy to feel discouraged, but remembering my first 20-mile ride on a bike trail that took three hours or sustaining a few falls from not knowing how to shift gears or chain rings just three months ago, I remember how proud I am of myself for how far I’ve come, and how lucky I am to have the opportunity of being a Texas 4000 rider.

We ride for those who aren’t able to, and remembering the faces of those people is what allows me to dig deep and keep on pedaling up the most difficult of hills or through intense weather conditions, which are so small in comparison to battling cancer.

This progress would not be possible if it wasn’t for my incredibly dedicated teammates, our hardworking staff and board, and the Texas 4000 mission. They have taught me so much, both on and off the bike that words could never do justice to my gratitude. All of these have pushed me, built me up and taught me so much about bikes, fitness, safety, self-sufficiency, teamwork, and life in general, and there’s no way I could have come this far without them. I also would not be where I am today without the hope that is both the goal of a cancer-free world and the support given to me by my family and friends, the knowledge of cycling, cancer prevention, statistics and resources, and the charity from those who donate to our cause as well as the many people who have given me their time, from riding with me and educating me on bike maintenance to sharing their stories with me and providing encouragement. My Texas 4000 experience will always remind me to believe in myself and has prepared me not only for a bike ride to Alaska, but whatever else life throws my way.

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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