BY BRIANNA TIEDEMAN
Cancer does not have a face until it becomes yours or a familiar one.
This summer, Salisbury University senior Neal Angleberger will positively share the faces of cancer survivors, lost souls, and impacted family members, all affected by a growing disease.
Student summers are often spent driving a cash flow or soaking up the sun at the beach, but Angleberger’s sun will come from biking 4,000 miles across the country.
The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults will host Angleberger and his team of 23 riders, just as they have for 14 years prior. The summer of 2016 marks the 15th anniversary of the 4K for Cancer ride, all proceeds and efforts forwarded to young adults fighting cancer in any capacity.
“We are riding for any young adults impacted by cancer, whether they had it, a family member did, or a friend,” Angleberger said.
Angleberger departs from the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, MD on June 5. San Diego, CA will greet him and his “Fam Diego” group chat members on August 13, 70 days and approximately 4,200 miles later.
Each morning, before the sun rises and before pedaling off onto their daily venture, the riders will participate in a dedication circle and announce who they are biking for that day. Angleberger lost his grandfather when he was young to lymphoma and additional cancers that returned.
“I’m doing it for him,” Angleberger said. “My entire family was affected. They still talk about it to this day.”
Cancer does not discriminate its victims, young or old, and in turn, Angleberger will also bike for a close fraternity brother’s family member who was recently diagnosed.
In the coming months, Angleberger is focused on training. Prior to the June training days, he is required to log one 50-mile ride and one 70-mile ride prior to the group’s training rides.
“My goal is to be on my bike as much as possible,” he said. “Everyone else is going to have internships all summer behind a desk and I’m going to be on my bike. My desk will be my bike.”
Angleberger notes that he will travel back home to Frederick County, MD after his finals in order to better prepare for the mountains of North Carolina and the hills of TN. The team will continue south through Illinois, Mississippi, Kansas, and the Ozark Mountains of Oklahoma.
They will then head northwest, where Frederick’s hills will be a remote comparison when the team approaches the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, traveling on through Utah and then the Sierra, Nevada mountains, until finally ending their mission in southern California’s coastal city of San Diego.
Angleberger will be joined by his younger sister during the ride and is looking forward to absorbing the country and being able to see it, rather than glimpsing during a drive.
“Obviously I want to see the country but also I want to help as many people as I can,” he said.
Other preparatory elements Angleberger must focus on other than the physical aspect are the nutritional and hydration pieces. As an exercise science major graduating in 2017 from SU and an intramural sports participant, Angleberger understands the need to balance his caloric and liquid intake and output, biking up to 120 miles each day.
The leaders of the trip have advised the riders to prepare by eating a large portion of fast food prior to training rides to get used to the high volume of calories. Angleberger’s favorite fast food is Chipotle and he will be prepping with burritos.
Amongst the 23 riders will be one mechanic, a route coordinator, and a leg leader who is responsible for coordinating host families for each night. The group will be followed by two vans filled with mechanical tools, emergency supplies, and food and drinks all donated by local restaurants within each area of the trip.
Aside from being nervous for the first week of getting used to being on his bike Lucy all day, Angleberger said that overall he is thankful and excited to pursue the opportunity to see nature’s beauty on another level, all for a noble cause.
“Biking is very relaxing except for hills,” he said. “Going downhills is amazing and you get to see everything.”
A friend of the SU bicyclist and his sister participated in a similar bike ride across America in 2015 for an affordable housing philanthropy, and the sibling pair was inspired by the feat.
The last aspect of the trip Angleberger and the rest of his team are focused on are monetary donations. He has successfully raised 41 percent of his total $4500 goal and is actively accepting donations and sponsorships for his journey. To join Neal and his efforts, visit http://www.4kforcancer.org