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Bicyclists stop in city on their way to Alaska

Only 63 days to go.

A group of 25 students from the University of Texas in Austin rolled in Cameron University Friday for an overnight stop on a 4,000-plus-mile trek that will end up in Anchorage, Alaska. It's a test of endurance, physical stamina, teamwork and  most of all  an opportunity to strike a blow against cancer.

They're participants in the Texas 4000 program, and while the bike ride is a big draw, the program is much more than the longest charity bike trek in the world. Students raise money for cancer research and volunteer in the community, often with patients with cancer. They learn to be leaders and work in cancer education programs.

The bike ride is split into three teams; the one that made a pit stop in Lawton is part of the Rockies ride; the others are headed through the Ozarks and the Sierra Nevadas before reunited in Canada to make the ride into Anchorage.

Many of the riders have personal incentives to work to wipe out the disease: a relative or a friend with cancer, perhaps, or the patients they interact with during their volunteer work.

Adam Sachs of Austin, for example, rides in memory of his grandfather, who died of bladder cancer. He saw Texas 4000 as a way to make sure other people with cancer have the personal attention his grandfather didn't.

"I was really attracted by the fact we spent of lot of time with cancer patients," he said.

The ride, aside from its Texas size, is special for another reason: You can only do it once.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Alex Herbig, a nursing student from Fredericksburg, Texas, is riding for her grandmother, whose colon cancer is in remission, as well as the children she works with at a children's hospital.

Louisa Angly of Austin, who'll be a senior next fall, has been working toward the ride for a long time.

"I heard about it in my freshman year and knew it was something I wanted to do," she said.

Angly and Aliyah Conley of Austin weren't on their bikes Friday. Team members rotate the duties of driving the two support vehicles, and Friday was their day to be behind the wheel.

Conley was driving the behemoth van towing a trailer filled with supplies and luggage.

The Lawton Constitution

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