Students from the University of Texas at Austin prepare to leave the Port of Brookings Harborâs kite field on Saturday. They spent the night here during their 4,000-mile bicycle trip from Austin to Anchorage, Alaska. The Pilot/Jef Hatch
"Everybody is touched by cancer," Bucky Ribbeck said. "Whether it is someone you know or whether you are a survivor; cancer touches everyone. That's why we ride, to kill cancer."
Ribbeck, as the ride director for the Sierra group of the Livestrong Texas 4000 ride against cancer, is leading a group of 22 riders from Austin, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska to bring awareness to the people in the fight against cancer.
The riders, a portion of the 69 riders who are split into three groups - there is an Ozarks group and a Rockies group in addition to the Sierras group - are all students at the University of Texas at Austin and each have their own reasons for taking the trip.
"Both my mom and dad have had bouts with skin cancer," assistant ride director David Martin said, "but it is my dad's struggle with multiple sclerosis that has me on this trip.
"He's had MS for 21 years and seeing how he's lived a life full of energy and not let a diagnosis change how he sees life made me want to do something adventurous; do something that not too many people ever get a chance to do."
The group has a number of cancer survivors in it including Chad Ramos who survived a germ-cell tumor in his brain.
"As a survivor - pretty much since the day I was cured - I've been looking for a way to fight back, to give back to the cancer community," Ramos said. "When I found out about Texas 4000, it was another way that I could continue to give back."
The group began their 4,000-mile trip on June 1 and will end it with the other two groups on August 9.
According to Martin, the number of accidents and incidents have been very low.
"It's been tougher on the coast because there are so many logging trucks and RVs and trailers," he said. "But it's been safe so far. We've had more incidents off the bikes than we have had while riding."
One incident happened just after the group got to Lubbock, Texas, when a sudden dirt storm caught the group on their way back from dinner.
"We were trying to close a sheet-metal gate and the wind ripped it right off its hinges," Martin said. "It pinned Bucky against the van and bruised him, but luckily no one was seriously hurt."
According to the Texas 4000 website (http://www.texas4000.org) the organization has raised more than $4 million in the 10 years since it was formed by Chris Condit to share a message of hope, knowledge and charity to those with cancer.
"Texas 4000 has sent over 350 riders on their bicycles, traveling more than 1.9 million miles to honor those affected by cancer."
For Ramos the message is simple.
"Cancer isn't a death sentence," he said. "There is a lot of help out there. There are a lot of options and people shouldn't be afraid of talking about cancer."