Archived Story

Texas 4000 rides through Fergus

Published 11:01am Monday, July 8, 2013 Updated 11:10am Monday, July 8, 2013

A group of cyclists gathered on the lawn of the AmericInn in Fergus Falls on Friday morning wearing an assortment of funny socks, bike shorts and bright red and white tan lines. They had just woke from a much-needed night of sleep around 1,700 miles away from home.

The 20-member group was part of the Livestrong Texas 4000, a community of University of Texas students who are passionate about raising money to fight cancer. Many had their own personal connection with the disease, and many chose to ride for that reason.

Alejandro Flores, a native of Texas riding for his grandfather who died of cancer and a friend who passed away after a car crash, said the 4,000-mile ride from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska, honors loved ones he and his teammates have lost.

“I ride to be able to tell his story,” he said. “It’s hard to lose someone you love and in doing this ride you get to bring them back to life.”

More than 20 riders take part in the Ozarks route that travels through Houston, Texas, St. Louis, Mo., and Chicago, Ill. The stop in Fergus Falls is day number 35 out of 70, the ride’s halfway point.

Flores said the long distance is certainly a challenge. Getting up early, tired, sore and irritable, also adds to what can be a struggle. But every morning the group gathers in a circle, arms around each other, to tell the stories of why and who they ride for and encourage one another to keep going.

“It’s kind of like having your own family riding with you for 70 days,” he said. “The people behind me are the best people I’ve ever met before. They’re so kind and humble, I can’t imagine spending my summer with anyone else.”

On day 60, they will meet with two other groups in the organization, forming one large group of 69 riders in Whitehorse, Canada. Since its start 10 years ago, Texas 4000 has sent 395 riders more than 2 million miles and raised more than $4 million to fight cancer. That money continues to support the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, The University of Texas Biomedical Engineering Department and survivorship programs such as the Livestrong Navigational Services Center.

In Fergus Falls, the group was supported by Walmart, Target, Sunmart and the AmericInn. The AmericInn provided four suites for the riders to stay, along with dinner and breakfast.

Fergus Falls resident Aaron Rotering and his wife, Devora, helped organize the support for the riders. After the group made contact through the couch surfing community online, the family used their resources to gather the donations.

Joining the group with his daughter before they took off, Rotering wished the group well and encouraged them to keep on with their cause.

“We were contacted and just wanted to help them out. It’s been great,” Rotering said. “They’ve been easy to talk to and have had some great stories to share. They’re all here for a common cause and doing a great thing.”

The group left on Old Highway 52, making their way towards Rothsay as they rode to their next stop in Fargo. With faces and arms covered in sunscreen as they rode through the summer heat, any signs of fatigue disappeared as they made their way to the second half of the trip.

“We only get this experience once in a lifetime,” Flores said. “We’re just trying to make the most of it.”

A group of cyclists gathered on the lawn of the AmericInn in Fergus Falls on Friday morning wearing an assortment of funny socks, bike shorts and bright red and white tan lines. They had just woke from a much-needed night of sleep around 1,700 miles away from home.

 

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