Some college kids spend the summer doing internships. Others work odd jobs. Some take extra courses or burn down time at the beach.
For 72 students from Texas, the summer is all about pedaling their way across North America in an attempt to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Called the Texas 4000, it sends separate teams on three routes that meander north out of Austin, Texas, toward the final destination of Anchorage, Alaska.
One of those groups will be riding into Santa Fe on Saturday, making an overnight stop in downtown before heading back on the road early Sunday. Following the Sierra Route since its path takes it through the California mountain range, the group was in Santa Rosa on Friday before heading into Santa Fe alongside a host of volunteer riders from around town.
One of them is Clare Rhoades, a member of the Santa Fe SOBs — an acronym for Seniors On Bikes — whose group will be out in force to lend its support for the Texas 4000.
“It’s such a good cause and, really, it’s a great way for the SOBs to have a formal ride for something fun,” Rhoades said.
The SOBs are for area riders aged 50 and over. It makes the mix of generations an interesting one as the 4000 head into town in the early afternoon.
The team’s path will follow Highway 285 to Old Las Vegas Highway, then down Old Santa Fe Trail to the Capitol. The men and women of the 4000 will spend the night at the Sage Inn and take part in a benefit to raise funds and share the riders’ experience along the way north out of their home state.
What Santa Fe represents is just a tiny fraction of the road ahead. It’s one of 70 stops along the way, and the nightly pit stop is just Day 9 of the journey.
The group will hit the road early Sunday, making a stop in Northern New Mexico by sundown. From there it’s off to Pagosa Springs, Colo., on Monday, back into New Mexico for a stop in Farmington on Tuesday and then through the Four Corners and into Utah by mid-week.
From there comes stops in places like Tonopah, Nev. (the home of Top Gun), Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and finally into Canada and a stop in Vancouver. The group will skirt the Alaskan border through British Columbia and the Yukon Territory before entering Alaska later this summer.
The home stretch into Anchorage on Aug. 7 will allow the group to reunite with the other Texas 4000 routes. One follows through the Rockies while the other heads through the Ozarks.
The goal is to raise at least $800,000 per group.
Each day the riders gather for a dedication circle where they pay tribute to a cancer patient and dedicate that day’s ride to that person.
“The goal for everyone is to hopefully turn this into an annual thing where they’ll come through Santa Fe every summer,” Rhoades said.