Ulrika Doederlein didn’t grow up an avid bicyclist, but the Highland Park High School grad plans to pedal more than 4,000 miles this summer.
“I biked to work every day the summer before, but that’s pretty much it,” Doederlein said.
Then why would she take on biking from Austin to Alaska? The University of Texas sophomore is part of Texas 4000, a cancer-fighting organization that schedules the ride each year.
Doederlein saw one of the group’s flyers on the ground during her freshman year. The last informational meeting was going to start in 20 minutes, and her roommate urged her to go.
“Ulrika and her team were selected in the fall of 2011,” said program director Lance Pyburn, a UT graduate who completed the ride in 2009. “There were 180 applicants, and we took 90 riders at that time.”
In terms of motivation, the effort hits close to home for Doederlein.
“My grandmother on my mom’s side had breast cancer, and I see how much it affects us,” she said. “All of a sudden, Grandma couldn’t come over anymore, and I couldn’t understand why, because I was still pretty young.”
The challenge is two-part: Doederlein must train for the trip and raise $4,500.
Every Saturday, she hits the pavement with her team at 7 a.m. for a 60-mile ride. All participants must complete 1,600 training miles before the ride in June.
As for the fundraising, the Texas 4000 website said this morning that she’s collected more than $3,000. She’s sent letters out to friends and family, “panhandled” the streets of Austin, and taken bulk orders of homemade brownies to raise money. Her family does their part by spreading the word back home.
“It can be very daunting, to look at going from zero to $4,500, so we have milestones,” Pyburn said of the process.
The program is split up into three teams. Doederlein is on the Sierra team, which will bike west to Lubbock, then up through California to Canada.When June comes around, they’ll start biking at 5 a.m., and keep going for about 10 hours with stops to rest, rehydrate, and take in the scenery.
It will be Doederlein’s first trip to Alaska. “We’re anticipating it will be a little chilly,” she said. But she mainly looks forward to the people she will meet along the way. At each major city, the group will present a program full of healthy lifestyle tips.
To learn more about Doederlein’s journey, check out her rider profile at texas4000.org.